Mini-Grants: A Catalyst for Growth

Written by Eloise Vitelli, Director of Program and Policy


Catalyst: “An agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action.”


For the past six years, NVME has provided Marketing Mini-Grants of up to $400 to over 130 small business owners around Maine.  We believe even small grants can serve as a catalyst for growth.

How Does the Marketing Mini-Grant Process Work?

NVME’s Marketing Mini-Grants are awarded through competitions that take place two times a year. These competitions take place through our 6 regions statewide.  Applicants are judged based on the following:

  • How well they spell out their marketing project or activity
  • How the proposed activity fits with their business plan
  • How their business will benefit

In some regions, the applicants are asked to make a ‘pitch’ to a panel of judges in addition to completing a brief application form. To qualify, the business must have 5 or fewer full-time employees and gross annual sales of $250,000 or less.

How Are The Mini-Grants Used?

Grantees have used these funds in several ways. Examples include:

  • Website design and development
  • Designing professional brochures and other print material
  • To buy ads in a variety of media
  • Paying for signage
  • Trade show entry fees and displays

Our most recent mini-grant recipient, Maddie Purcell, founder of Fyood Kitchen, will use her $400 marketing grant to launch a Kickstarter campaign. She wants to grow her business by more clearly identifying her target audience and building relationships with local food producers.  During her presentation, Maddie’s creative and determined spirit impressed the judges.

Let’s Evaluate! 

This winter and spring, NVME will be reaching out to past grant winners to ask for their ideas on the mini-grant program and how it influenced their business.

NVME is grateful to the Maine Women’s Fund who is supporting this follow-up project and for their generous support of the mini-grant program in the past. Others who have contributed to this program include: Norway Savings Bank, NVME Ambassadors, Key Bank, WGME.

The deadline for the next round of grants is May 5, 2017. Stay tuned!