Man in gray sweater counting money into dollar bills.

How to Raise Money You Don’t Have to Pay Back

At a time when securing funding can be so difficult given high interest rates and a credit squeeze, the concept of raising money without having to pay it back might sound too good to be true. How does that work?

The fact is, it’s very possible through small business grants. The government provides many grants. Others come from foundations or companies keen on developing the small business community. FedEx, American Express and eBay are a few examples. 

The U.S. government awards $500 billion annually in Federal Assistance Agreements, consisting mostly of grants. More than $80 million is given out to individuals, colleges and businesses in the form of “free” government grants.

Unlike loans, grants don’t have to be paid back. They are pretty competitive, however, and many come with rigid requirements. Pay particular attention to deadlines and calendar grant periods. The deadline for the latest round of Verizon Small Business Digital Ready grants is this week, for example.

Securing these grants is by no means “easy.” But nothing worth doing is easy, right?

So, how can you take advantage of this avenue as an entrepreneur looking to take your business to the next level or help your business stay afloat?

Here is a brief overview of several ways you can apply for grants to help raise money you don’t have to pay back.

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Small Business Innovation Research Program

The Small Business Innovation Research Program encourages small businesses to engage in research or development projects that have a high potential for commercialization. The SBIR program is meant to increase private-sector commercialization, stimulate technological innovation and encourage entrepreneurship.

Small Business Technology Transfer Program

The STTR program expands funding opportunities for federal innovation research and development. The STTR requires collaboration between the agency and your business. Every year, STTR requires five federal departments and agencies to set aside a portion of their R&D funds to award to non-profit small businesses.

There are also niche grants available for veterans and minority women.

In addition, here are just a few of the many options available in the corporate and private sector.

Verizon Small Business Digital Ready

Verizon has created an exclusive pool of grants for Verizon Small Business Digital Ready participants. Complete two courses or coaching events to be eligible to apply for a $10,000 grant.

  • Multiple $10,000 grants for small businesses in the VSBDR program
  • Join Digital Ready for free and gain access to the program’s free courses, events, coaching sessions and mentoring offered by Digital Ready experts
  • Complete any two of the many courses or events
  • The latest round of Verizon’s $10,000 small business grants is over, but we can expect that a new round will open later this year.
Backing Small Businesses from American Express
  • Launched in 2021 by American Express and Main Street America
  • Created to help economically vulnerable small business owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow their businesses
  • 2024 grant recipients represent U.S. small businesses across all 50 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico
FedEx Small Business Grant

FedEx has a small business grant contest, where the company awards grants to 10 small businesses nationwide, with a grand prize a check of $25,000.

Chase Mission Main Street Grants

To raise awareness for the role small businesses play in their communities, JPMorgan Chase Bank provides yearly grants to 20 small businesses.

Amazon Business Small Business Grants
  • Exclusively for Amazon Business small business customers that make less than $1 million in annual revenue
  • $250,000 in monetary grants in addition to other prizes to a total of 15 recipients
  • 2024 grant period has ended so check for future years
Fund Her Future Grant from Block Advisors by H&R Block
  • Five women small business owners will be selected for the Fund Her Future Grant
  • One small business owner will receive a grand prize grant package of $50,000 and free access to a suite of SMB services for a full year from Block Advisors experts.
  • 2024 grant period has ended so check for future years
Ebay for Business Up & Running Grants
  • In partnership with Hello Alice, eBay is awarding more than $500,000 in grants and education resources to help small businesses
  • 50 eBay business sellers will receive grant packages of $10,000, including cash, eBay education, and a $500 equipment stipend
  • 2024 grant period has ended so check for future years


Use flat-fee crowdfunding with no commissions.

Raise business capital of $100K to $100M.

Connect directly with accredited investors.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

And, lastly, while these grants don’t go to businesses directly, the T-Mobile Hometown Grants are worth knowing about if your business is located in a community with fewer than 50,000 residents. The grants might be a chance for you to help your community secure a grant to kickstart a local development project that enhances your community, whether it’s building adaptive playgrounds, launching small business initiatives, updating the tech at your public library or beautifying downtown. The new application period for the T-Mobile Hometown Grant program is open through Sept. 30.

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