What The Heck Is A Grant?!

So- I have this amazing, time consuming (and sometimes boring) small business as a grant writer (amongst other things). I have so many people who are confused about what a grant writer does, and what exactly a grant is. Hopefully this will help clear up the confusion.

“What exactly is a grant?” is a question that I am asked constantly! A grant is money given to a company, non-profit, or educational institute, or an individual for a specific purpose. The money normally comes from a larger government organization, foundation, or company. It’s kind of like when your church raises money to give to a needy family. Or when a company pools money together to give to the family of an employee that just passed. It has a specific purpose, and normally there is a limit to the amount of money that you can receive.

I know that the though of FREE MONEY sounds absolutely enticing, but it’s not 100% free. And it is definitely not for just anyone. Most of the monies that are given away are to non-profit organizations and small start-up companies. What is a non-profit organization, and how can you become one? A non-profit organization is an organization with the purpose of which is something other than making a profit. A nonprofit organization is often dedicated to furthering a particular social cause or advocating for a particular point of view. In English, this means a company that is not seeking to make a profit, is a charitable organization, and has a goal or a purpose for being in business. I particularly love working with non profits who’s focus is youth development and education. There is an abundance of grant money out for people who want to work with our youth. Examples of non-profits are The American Red Cross, The Ronald McDonald Charities, Doctors Without Borders, The ASPCA, and the Make A Wish Foundation. All of these organizations have a specific cause, and all of the money that is given to them is to help with whatever their focus is. Now, how do you become a nonprofit? Well, it’s not an easy process. First you have to get your EIN (employer identification number). You get this from the IRS website at http://www.irs.gov; it helps them and other organizations know who you are. It’s kind of like your business social security number. Make sure that you register the EIN under a nonprofit status! Next, on the IRS website, you’ll have to apply for the recognition of exemption. It is called a form 1023-series. It is a really long application with a whole bunch of questions, so please be prepared! And you will have to pay the appropriate fee in order to complete the registration; I believe the price is $500 now. The process can take anywhere up to 6 months, but once it is completed it will most definitely be worth it!

Now, on to the biggest question that I always get- what the heck does a grant writer do? A whole HECK of a lot of research! Lol! So when I get a new client, I find out a ton of information about what it is that they are looking for funding for, how much they need, and how many people the funding will be providing for (granters want to know all of this). Then, I go into the grant databases (there are multiple ones, but I like to use grants.gov, grantwatch.com, and grantgopher.com, as well as google for small businesses). Then I research. I sort through thousands of grants, and see if I can find something that aligns with what the client is looking for. I compile a list, and send it over to my client so that they can review it and pick the ones that they like the most. I gather as much paperwork from my client that is needed for the application, then I start the process. Depending on the application and the foundation that it is coming from, a grant can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks to apply for. It can go from a simple page application, to a 20 page proposal, not including attachments. I just got a headache thinking about it…. Lol! After I have completed the application process, I submit the proposal. There are normally 2 ways to submit an application- either electronically through the grant funders database, or manually in the mail. Once the application is submitted, the grant writer has nothing more to do with the application. All correspondence will be made to the applying agency, and the main point person that was designated in the application.

One question that I come across with many of my clients is if I can guarantee that an application that I submit will be approved. There are NO guarantee’s in grant writing. There are many different factors that grantors (or funders) look for when they are selecting an application to approved. And, there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of other people who are applying for the exact same grant. But, I can guarantee that I will work extremely hard on the application that I am submitting, and ensure that your organization stands out from the others. I  may not get you EVERY grant that we go after, but I will get you funded!

If you’re reading this blog because you found it on my Instagram and you want a free grant, happy hunting!



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