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Accessing Government Funding in Canada - Page 2: First Impressions Count

By Sharon Monahan. President, The Business Guide Inc. |

Page 2: First Impressions Count

In my first article in this series I stated that most people believe applying for government funding is a three-step process, specifically;

  1. finding out what programs are available;
  2. determining their eligibility criteria; and
  3. submitting the proposal.
I also said that what happens between steps two and three is perhaps most important in determining whether a proposal is successful. Call it Step 2.5, "Determining the Assessment Criteria".

Many people mistakenly believe that if they are eligible for funding they will get it. All they have to do is apply.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every government program, which I know of, has a set of assessment criteria that is used to determine whether a proposal is suitable for funding. These criteria are seldom communicated to applicants because they simply don't ask. Let's face it. If you know what your proposal will be assessed against before you apply, you stand a much better chance of getting approved.

So how should one go about getting the required information? You begin by making an appointment to visit the local office of the department or agency you are applying to.

I can not over emphasize the importance of this step. Nothing can replace the effectiveness of personal contact in this situation. If this is not possible, phone. Never do a blind submission. When your proposal lands on someone's desk they should be familiar with it and have been expecting it. Otherwise you are asking too much from your proposal.

Let me explain.

Any funding proposal is designed to do two things:

  • 1) inform the reader and
  • 2) provide a rational as to why you should receive funding.

The best business plans in the world are nothing more than words on paper. That's ok for providing information, but you should never rely solely on them to provide the funding rational.

Most economic development officers decide early in the game, whether or not they like your proposal. Call it their predisposition. If they are positively predisposed, you are merely asking your business plan to reinforce their first impression. If they are negatively predisposed then you are asking your proposal to convince them to provide you with funding. It is much more difficult to convince someone than it is to reinforce his or her initial inclination. The problem with blind submissions is that you don't know what the officers' predisposition is and therefore what you are asking your proposal to do - reinforce or convince?

By visiting the office before you apply for funding, you not only get the required information regarding the assessment criteria but you get a feel for the officers' initial impression and you have a tremendous opportunity to positively influence it. They get to hear about your proposal and they see how excited and determined you are about the proposed venture. Remember they are assessing you and your idea. You want them to meet you, and if possible, like you.

So far you have determined what programs are available (if not see the Business Guide), what ones you are eligible for, and made your initial contact with the department or agency to which you are applying. You have created a good first impression and positively influenced the development officer's predisposition toward your proposed venture.

Next you need to find out what criteria your proposal will be assessed against. In the next article in this series we will examine some of these criteria in more detail.

If you have a question on anything contained in one of my articles, just send me an email @ I'll do what I can to further clarify.

Page 1: Canadian Government grants and loans
Page 2: First Impressions Count
Page 3: Determining the Assessment Criteria
Page 4: Determining the Assessment Criteria (Part 2)
Page 5: More Assessment Criteria
Page 6: Know Your Environment

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