Talk to ‘Em: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Getting a Grant (But Were Afraid to Ask)

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Woman Signing a Check

7. STOP! DON’T GO THERE! Grant makers aren’t about to change their rules and deadlines, not even for sweet, wonderful, creative you. It’s their way or the highway. Follow the rules exactly as they’re written.

8. Grant makers give money based on what matters to them, not what matters to you. Make sure what you’re doing fits into their “mission,” because if it doesn’t, you’re just wasting your time, paper and ideas.

9. No one is going to write you a huge check—no questions asked—then drive off into the sunset. This is an urban myth that has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Don’t expect something for nothing. You’ll need a complete, logical, WRITTEN plan to win a grant. Remember,

a. Don’t take offense when grant makers ask you questions (and believe me, they’ll ask plenty of questions!)
b. Don’t get upset when they tell you they expect quarterly reports of what you do with the money. It’s not personal–they do this with everyone.
c. Don’t, under any circumstances, tell the grant maker to mind their own business. THIS IS THEIR BUSINESS!

10. A POP QUIZ FOR YOU! Choose the best answer:
You could be turned down for a grant…

a. Because your proposal doesn’t fall within the grant maker’s area of interest.
b. Because it’s obvious you don’t know what you’re talking about.
c. Because you made a couple dozen mistakes on the application.
d. Even when you did everything right on the application.
e. Because, baby…just because.
f. All of the above.

Answer? F, All of the above! Remember, no one owes you a grant—or anything else, for that matter. Apply…and hope for the best.

11. Winning a grant, then spending the money on whatever catches your eye is an urban legend. Grant makers get your name, address, social security number and other information before they even think about cutting you a check, so follow your written plan to the letter.

12. Don’t apply for a grant just because it offers huge sums of money. Make sure you know something about the grant (and the grant maker) before you apply. Study, study, study…and know what you’re talking about! I’ve had grant makers tell me there’s nothing worse than getting applications from people who know nothing about their grant or its mission, but only see dollar signs.

13. There’s no such thing as getting someone else to apply for a grant for you, then splitting the money with them and going off on a shopping spree. Grant makers can tell when something is “thrown together” just to get some money out of them.

14. Don’t be surprised if your writer-friend or teacher-friend (or whomever you ask to write a grant for you) flat-out refuses to help. Even if you’ve got begging down to a science, you’ll find that people familiar with grants and the grant-making process just aren’t chomping at the bits to take on your project…even if you do promise them half the money. They know what’s involved. The time, prayer, energy, sweat, thought, planning, networking, researching and writing it takes to win a grant cannot truly be priced, and if it could, you’d probably discover it’s cheaper to buy a new computer and do it yourself. Besides, if getting a grant was really all that easy, they could just search for their own grant, keep all the money to themselves, and politely tell you to talk to the hand.

15. Many grants are non-taxable, but some are taxed. Ask the grant maker before you accept, or you may find yourself bumped up into a higher income bracket.

16. No, you don’t have to know how to use the Internet to find a grant…but it’s quicker if you do. If you don’t, the Public Library is always a great starting point. Ask for books on Foundations and Agencies offering grant money in your field of interest.

17. Yes, there are government grants for individuals, and you don’t have to buy the book from the man with the question marks to find them. Click on http://www.grants.gov/search/subscribeAdvanced.do and sign up to be notified when grants are announced. You will probably have to read through several hundred notices before you find a grant you qualify for, but you would have to do the same amount of reading if you bought the book from the man with the question marks.

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