Part of my business, Consult Write One, involves grant writing.People often ask me what I do for a living, and when I answer “I’m a writer,” they immediately find something else to do. This always reminds me of Tina Fey‘s brilliant take on the subject at the 2008 Emmys:
They often perk up when they find that it mostly involves business writing: content, blog, and article writing with some grant writing and other types thrown in. I write fiction, but as a hobby–have even been published for it once this year (hopefully not the last time, either) for my story “Damn Tourists:” http://www.deadmule.com/fiction/damn-tourists-by-john-baradell-jr/, but business writing is what I get paid for. The fact that I enjoy this style of writing, too, helps.
Anyway, when I mention grant writing, people’s eyes widen and they perk up about their dream projects. Almost every time, too. Just in the past two days, I’ve been asked about:
- Low-income daycare (twice)- one was a nurse, the other an ADA driver. Both wanted non-profit status, but also wanted to have a paid staff, including themselves.
- Adult home for the disabled- taxi driver this time. His idea was to run a home including cheap board “like the stuff I grew up on. Grits, beans, rice–stuff like that. They could keep pocket-money for themselves,” he generously proffered. He would keep the rest.
- Open a smokeless tobacco shop-my hairdresser, this morning. She wants a small business grant so she can make a killing on the smokeless tobacco craze for a couple of years before they become regulated. I copied some info from the internet for her a bit ago and slid it under the salon door. My thinking is that they won’t last even that long.
Thing is, they all looked at me expectantly after their confession and hoped that I would offer to do the fifty to one-hundred hours of work required on approval. They were universally shocked that they would have to pay me or anyone else upfront for all the research and specification writing involved. And they would pay approved or not.
“Really?” said my hairdresser. “So it’s kinda like a lawyer then, right?”
“Well, yes,” I said.”The difference is that I will generally work on another one for you just for expenses if the first one isn’t approved. But to get anybody legit, you have to pay them just like I’m paying you.” She shut up (unusual for her).
My point is that many folks take getting grants, well, for granted. Grants for college are relatively easy and don’t require help. Non-profit grants are a different beast, make up 90% of traditional grants out there, and are highly competitive–especially in these times. For-profit grants exist too, but they are even more competitive and difficult to get.
If one chooses to do it themselves, great! I always encourage people to google the possibility. Research takes most of the time needed, and writing to a grant’s requirements most of the rest.
It’s doable–just not for the easily discouraged or faint of heart.
My point? Please don’t take getting grants for granted. There’s nothing easy about the process.
In that vein, I worked for the last few weeks on an alternative to a lengthy traditional grants with a crowdfunding appeal for supplemental funds for the West Florida Literary Federation. I am a graduate intern for them this summer (La Tech), and did this gratis: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/500voices/folk-art-and-interpretive-dance-meet-poetry-art-in
I’ll go into crowdfunding vs. traditional grant writing in the 2nd part of this post on Friday: Don’t Take Grants for Granted (Part Two).
No worries, the money’s still out there. It’s just not as easy as certain dubious book “writers” claim.