Grants & Investments
Are there differences in the sorts of people who ‘give’ Grants, from those who ‘make’ Investments? Are these fundings for genuinely different types of activity? Or do we sometimes forget that all funding from the public purse has at base the same objectives of improving quality of life?
When is a Grant an Investment? This is probably only a meaningful question in the context of the public and not-for-profit sectors, either as recipients or as giver.
In private-sector-to-private-sector transactions everything is Investment; but when we go to other sectors, the likelihood that an Investment will become a Grant seems to increase with the supposed distance from hard commercial factors.
Thus, IT projects are likely to benefit from Investment, but Cultural ones receive Grants.
The implications of this for how we perceive these activities are significant. Yet, for instance, cultural activities can be both business-like and of benefit to their communities, as can technological ones. If we seriously believe that varied and high-skills activities of all kinds are necessary in a modern economy, it might help to recognise that Investment is what we do when we support activities of any sort which help to build that economy, by making jobs, engaging people and – whisper it – just generally improving quality of life.
But there again perhaps Investments are made by people who have experience of business, and Grants are made by those who usually don’t. Whether this matters or not is an open question.