Decoding Grant Eligibility: A Comprehensive Guide

December 22, 2023
min read

The hustle and bustle of Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub, is a testament to the country's entrepreneurial spirit. From the roadside vendor hawking orange, to tech startups revolutionizing fintech in Yaba, the city's Silicon Valley, Nigerians are not short of innovative business ideas. However, the path to turning these ideas into thriving businesses is often filled with numerous challenges, key among them being access to funding. One way many businesses, non-profit organizations, and individuals can overcome this hurdle is through grants - a less explored, yet highly rewarding financial solution.

Unlike loans, grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed by grant makers, often a government department, corporation, foundation, or trust, to a recipient, often (but not always) a nonprofit entity, educational institution, business, or individual. Unlike loans, they don't need to be repaid. However, they do come with their own set of complexities - one of them being the eligibility criteria.

So, who qualifies for these grants? Are they only for established entities or can startups and individuals also benefit from them? This blog post aims to demystify the intricacies of grant eligibility to help you navigate this complex landscape. Let's dive in!

Understanding the Basics of Grant Eligibility

1. Eligibility Defined

Eligibility, in the context of grants, refers to whether an individual or an organization meets the criteria set by the grant-making body to apply for and receive a specific grant. These criteria vary from one grant to another and are influenced by the purpose of the grant, the source of the funds, and the goals of the funding organization.

For instance, some grants are designed to support research in a particular field, while others aim to stimulate growth in underdeveloped regions. Some grants are open only to non-profit organizations, while others are available to businesses or individuals. The eligibility requirements for each grant are typically outlined in the grant announcement or application package.

While it might seem daunting, knowing the eligibility requirements is crucial as it can save you a lot of time and effort. There's no point in spending hours preparing a grant application only to find out you were never eligible in the first place. So, it's always a good idea to thoroughly review the eligibility criteria before you begin the application process.

2. The Role of the Funding Body

The grant-making body plays a significant role in determining the eligibility criteria. Government grants, for instance, often have strict eligibility requirements related to the applicant's location, size, and industry. This is because government grants are typically designed to support public policy objectives. For example, a government grant might be available only to businesses operating in a particular region or industry to stimulate economic development in that area.

On the other hand, grants from private foundations often have more flexible eligibility requirements. These grants are usually intended to support the foundation's mission, which could be anything from promoting education and health to supporting the arts or environmental conservation. So, a private foundation might offer a grant to any organization or individual who shares its mission and can demonstrate a strong plan for using the funds to achieve a meaningful impact.

Therefore, it's important to understand the goals and priorities of the funding body when assessing your eligibility for a grant. This will not only help you determine whether you meet the eligibility requirements but also whether your goals align with those of the grant-making body.

Who Qualifies for Grants?

#1. Non-profit Organizations and NGOs

Non-profit organizations and NGOs are often the first entities that come to mind when thinking about grant eligibility. Indeed, many grants are designed specifically for these types of organizations, as they typically focus on serving the public good. These organizations may qualify for grants aimed at supporting various causes such as education, health, social services, environmental conservation, and more.

However, it's important to note that not all non-profits and NGOs will qualify for all grants. The organization must align with the mission and goals of the funding body, and the proposed use of the funds must meet the grant's objectives. Additionally, many grants require the organization to have a certain level of financial stability, a proven track record of success, and strong leadership.

Moreover, non-profits and NGOs need to have a clear and detailed plan for how the grant funds will be used. This includes a budget that outlines how each dollar will be spent, as well as measurable goals and outcomes. Grantmakers want to see that their funds will be used effectively and will have a real impact, so having a well-thought-out plan is crucial.

#2. Businesses and Startups

Contrary to popular belief, grants are not just for non-profits and NGOs. Businesses, including startups, can also qualify for grants. These grants are often aimed at stimulating economic development, supporting innovation, or promoting certain industries.

For example, a government might offer a grant to businesses that are developing innovative technology, creating jobs in underdeveloped regions, or operating in a key industry. Similarly, a private foundation might offer a grant to businesses that are making a positive social impact or align with the foundation's mission.

Just like non-profits and NGOs, businesses and startups must meet certain criteria to qualify for a grant. This might include being in a certain industry, having a certain number of employees, or demonstrating financial stability. Additionally, the business must have a strong plan for using the grant funds to achieve the grant's objectives.

#3. Individuals

Yes, individuals can also qualify for grants! These grants are often aimed at supporting education, research, artistic endeavors, or other individual pursuits. For example, an individual might receive a grant to conduct scientific research, pursue higher education, or create a work of art.

Individual grants are often highly competitive, as there are usually many individuals seeking funding for similar pursuits. To qualify, individuals typically need to demonstrate a high level of talent or potential, a clear plan for using the funds, and a strong commitment to their pursuit.


Understanding grant eligibility can be a game-changer for businesses, NGOs, and individuals seeking funding. While the process may seem daunting, with a clear understanding of what grantors are looking for, you stand a better chance of securing that much-needed funding.

Whether you're a non-profit, a business, a startup, or an individual, there's a good chance you could qualify for a grant. The key is to understand the eligibility requirements, align your goals with those of the funding body, and submit a strong, well-thought-out application. Hire a grant writer here to get started.

Do you need an expert to help with your next Grant?
Yes please!