Advice & Assistance
Simplicity of Getting Grants
By Brenda Smith
you have ever considered applying for a grant but were intimidated by the rather
complicated procedure, then maybe you need a little help finding a place to start. Once you get your
feet on the road, you'll find the journey much easier than you imagined.
go to a comparison between writing a grant proposal and remodeling your house. If you were going
to remodel, lay down new carpet and reupholster the sofa-you wouldn't start by ripping
looking under Home Improvements. This would give you a good idea which stores offer the kind of price
range of these goods will be. Once you have a clear idea of what is available, you can call each store
to talk to the salespeople and see if they had what you were interested in. Only after
taking this initial contact would you take the effort to drive down to the store and make a
like that home improvement project, receiving a grant starts with a little research.
1. First you'll want to determine
what is available.
Then you need to make initial contact with the agency or foundation and see if your need for money fits
their guidelines. Once that's done, you will find it easier to complete your proposal and obtain a grant.
The Foundation Directory is a directory of private
grant foundations in the United States. Each State may also have a directory
of the foundations in their state. For instance
Foundations & Grantmakers
By reading through these listings you will find grants for every
purpose you can imagine, from education to artistic
projects, scientific research to projects to help the homeless. You will also learn what kind
of funding the foundations provide to these projects-some will offer a few hundred dollars,
while others will give thousands and even millions of dollars a year.
is another Yellow Pages for government money: The Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance. Like the Foundation Directory, The Catalog of
Federal Domestic Assistance lists every source of free money given away
by the government, and the number of causes funded by private
dwarfed by the scope of government grants.
While looking through these grant listings, jot down the addresses and
phone numbers of any
foundations or government agencies that look promising along with any
other important information. Later, you will be able to access this list
easily rather than having to go back through the entire book.
can also search the internet under grants and find information and
names of organizations.
Now you have a list of initial contacts for your grant needs, much like
you would have after glancing through the Yellow Pages for your
remodeling needs. Next, you need to get a little more information about
the foundations on the list just as you would about the hardware stores.
But how do you do that? In the case of the home improvement stores, you
would pick up the phone and call them. Unfortunately, you cannot make a
phone call to most grant foundations and calling government agencies is
an effort which is abortive as often as it is productive, but you can
write a letter to them.
letter, referred to as a "letter of inquiry," will be your first contact with the foundation.
It is your way of reaching out and shaking hands with the foundation director and introducing yourself.
In order to make a good impression, keep this letter brief and to the point. Being long winded or
redundant will only start you off on a bad foot.
people are rather hesitant to compose this letter even though they stand to lose nothing and given
thousands of dollars. Perhaps the reason is because they are not sure exactly what should be included
in the letter.
When putting your letter inquiry together, be sure to include:
Your name, address and phone number
A brief introduction and description of your project or need for money.
A Request for the foundation's annual report and grant application.
A request for a list of previous grant recipients, a sample grant proposal and the foundation's tax
returns form the previous year.
annual report is sort of a prospectus for the grant foundation. Reading it, you will learn
the foundation gives money away for, how extensive your proposal will need to be, how much money they
give away to particular projects, and when the applicant deadline is. Although not all foundations make
the information available, if you can obtain a list of past recipients and a sample successful proposal
you will be ahead of the game because you will have concrete examples to guide you. Or, you can contact
the past grantees and inquire what they did to set their proposal or project above the others. With
this information, you can hardly go wrong when you begin to write your own proposal.
you have your letter ready, send it out to every grant foundation you feel you might be eligible for.
By sending one letter to each foundation, you will assured of a large volume of responses.
the material you requested from the foundations will begin appearing in your mail box. When you read
through all of these papers, you will discover that some foundations are not what you thought they
would be, while others do not fund projects exactly like yours. However, you may discover that some of
them are willing to give money. In fact, it shouldn't be too long before
have a list of at least a dozen foundations that are likely grant givers. It is to these you must send
your finished grant proposal.
I don't qualify for any of these grants!" That's one of the most common complaints uttered by
grant seekers when paging through the Foundation Directory or The Catalog of Federal
Assistance, and sometimes it's very valid. After all, most grants are very specialized, and many are
not available to individuals. However, it's hard to imagine, with the huge variety of grants that are
available, that someone is not eligible for any of them.
is a common misconception about nonprofit companies: Most people seem to think that they cannot engage
in any activity which brings in cash. In reality, the nonprofit status simply means that the company
cannot disperse its profit as bonuses among its employees. They can make money, pay regular salaries to
their employees, advertise, and reinvest their profits by putting them back into the corporation.
may want to seek the assistance of a Grant Broker. Many first-time grant seekers imagine that a grant
broker would charge a percentage of the total grant awarded. It is illegal for grant brokers to collect
a commission. instead, they must charge a set fee for
their services and collect only that amount.
FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE
you think you have a project that might interest a corporate philanthropic program, consider all the
major companies in your area. Many corporate programs are geographic in nature, that is, they may apply
mainly to the region in which the company has a major base of operations. Unfold a map of your area and
draw a 25-mile radius circle around your house. Then consider all the major industries
that fall into
all circle and start writing. If none of these attempts pan out, you can start trying other companies
at progressively farther distances away. As a last resort, try large companies out of state. Exhaust
all possibilities, and always remember that the money may not be where you think it is.
Most important, be honest with yourself and the
grant makers about your reasons for the Grants. If
you are simply seeking free money so you don't have
to work, you will be wasting your time. How you
spend the Grant money you receive will be under
scrutiny, and if you don't use the money as you
proposed, there are severe penalties and potential
Here is a brief list
of grant foundations:
Money given for projects associated with research, training and other activities related to urban
poverty, human rights, rural poverty, education and culture, public policy and international affairs.
THE BABY FOUNDATION FOR THE MUSICAL ARTS
501 Fifth Ave.,
York, NY 10017 Contact:
Eleanor C. Mark
Grants given for musical study based on need and talent.
Carolina State University P.O.
Financial Aid Office
If your last name is Gatling and you want to attend this university, you qualify for this
grant. There is $1.2 million available in this fund.
CARNATION COMPANY SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION
Angeles, CA 90036
Board of Advisors
Scholarships for higher education to relatives of Carnation Company employees on the basis of academic
merit and financial need.
NEW HORIZONS FOUNDATION
700 South Flower St., Suite 1122
Los Angeles, CA 90017
G. Grant Gilford
Financial assistance to needy Christian Scientists who are at least 65 years old and reside in Los
Angels, County, Calif.
THE CLARK FOUNDATION
York, NY 10005 Contact:
Edward W. Stack
Grants for convalescent and medical care for needy individuals in the area of Upstate New York and New
THE VERO BEACH FOUNDATION FOR THE ELDERLY
First National Bank 225
South County Road
Beach, FL 33480 Contact: Program
Relief assistance only to indigent residents of Vero Beach, Fla.
About the Author Brenda Smith, Grant Writer
Smith worked for a government agency for over 15 years and saw numerous grant applications rejected
because of simple misunderstandings and omissions.
currently works as a grant writer for a major charity foundation, securing some of those same
government grants. Although she no longer accepts new
clients, she offers her expertise through Self-Investment Company, LLC, Solving the Entrepreneurial Puzzle
Educational Events and
Contact Brenda Smith-Jackley
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