A grant is a fund given by an end entity grant – often a public body, charitable foundation, or a specialised grant-making institution – to an individual or another entity (usually, a non-profit organisation, sometimes a business or a local government body) for a specific purpose linked to public benefit. Unlike loans, grants are not to be paid back.
The European Commission provides financing through numerous specific calls for project proposals. These may be within Framework Programmes. Although there are many 7-year programmes that are renewed that provide money for various purposes. These may be structural funds, Youth programmes and Education programmes. There are also occasional one-off grants to deal with unforeseen aspects or special projects and themes. Most of these are administered through what are called National Agencies, but some are administered directly through the Commission in Brussels. Due to the complexity of the funding mechanisms involved and especially the high competitiveness of the grant application processes (14%) professional Grant Consulting firms are gaining importance in the grant writing process. EU grants shall not be mixed with EU tenders, that can be sometimes similar.
Another funding body in Europe is the European Council. Similarly there are calls and various projects that are funded by this council.
Denmark has an educational universal grant system, SU (Statens Uddannelsesstøtte, the State Education Fund). It is available to all students from 18 years of age, with no upper limit, who are currently taking courses. There are two systems of SU.
In addition to the government grant scheme, more than 35,000 grants in Denmark exists, which is the second largest number of foundations in Europe by country. The foundations are estimated to possess 400 billion Danish kroner (US$60 billion) in accessible funds.
Grant-giving organizations in Ireland include the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology and Science Foundation Ireland for research grants.
Major grant organisations funded and operated by the government include:
Grants are made available in the United Kingdom for a variety of business, charitable and research purposes. The biggest grant distributors are government departments and agencies which offer grants to third party organisations (often a charitable organisation) to carry out statutory work on their behalf.
Other major grant distributors in the United Kingdom are the National Lottery, charitable trusts and corporate foundations (through Corporate Social Responsibility policies). For example, Google contributes to the grants process through its Google Grants programme, where any charitable organization can benefit financially from free Google Ads advertising if they share Google's social responsibility outcomes.
Grants are time limited (usually between one and three years) and are offered to implement existing government policies, to pilot new ways of doing things or to secure agreed outcomes. A grant will usually only be given for a specific project or use and will not usually be given for projects that have already begun.
Over the years the discipline of writing grant bids has developed into a specialised activity. Many organisations employ fundraising professionals to carry out this work. In the United Kingdom the fundraising profession is governed by The Institute of Fundraising and is independently regulated by the Fundraising Regulator in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and by the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel in Scotland. The grant writing process generally includes search, proposal and accounting for competitive grant funds. Traditional search methods - for example referring to the Charities Aid Foundation Directory of Grant Making Trusts - are quickly becoming replaced by online fundraising tools.
In 2016, the UK Government introduced proposals to include an "anti-lobbying clause" in grant-funding agreements, i.e. payments which "support lobbying or activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action"  would not be treated as eligible for grant funding and therefore funded organisations would need to fund these activities in some other way. The Scottish Government indicated it would not be introducing similar measures.
As of 2021, 6 out of the top 10 charities in England and Wales (as measured by expenditure on charitable activities) make grants to individuals and/or organisations.
Main article: Federal grants in the United States
See also: Federal assistance in the United States
In the United States, grants most often come from a wide range of government departments or an even wider range of public and private trusts and foundations. According to the Foundation Center these trusts and foundations number in excess of 88,000 and disperse in excess of $40 billion every year. Trusts and Foundations are a little more complex to research and can be found through subscription-based directories.
Most often, education grants are issued by the government to students attending post-secondary education institutions. In certain cases, a part of a government loan is issued as a grant, particularly pertaining to promising students seeking financial support for continuing their educations.
Grant compliance and reporting requirements vary depending upon the type of grant and funding agency. In the case of research grants involving human or animal subjects, additional involvement with the Institutional Review Boards (IRB) and/or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) is required.
Econometric evidence show public grants for firms can create additionality in jobs, sales, value added, innovation and capital. For example, this was shown to be the case for large public R&D grants, as well as for public grants for small and medium-sized firms or tourism firms.