By C. Hope Clark –
I forget that new writers enter the profession daily, and I’m most reminded when a slew of them write me after seeing FundsforWriters.com for the first time. The first thing they see is GRANTS, and that throws their fledgling minds into overdrive, wondering how they can find some generous grant provider to offer money to a new writer. It’s like rumors that some government agency will pay off your mortgage or write off your debt.
In writing, nobody offers you a free lunch. You pay for that lunch. You can hope for a coupon here and there, or a free sandwich if you buy a coke, but nobody is going to offer lunch for free.
Let’s look at grants. Why do grants exist? Nobody cares about that, but grants have missions, too. Grants have specific purposes, and providing money to people who don’t have it isn’t the leading purpose. It’s more about what someone wants to do with that money that matters.
1) They are created to fill an identified need.
2) They are created to make a difference with humanity.
3) They must demonstrate to the world that the money they spend has done great things.
4) They answer to high authorities about how effective and efficient they’ve been with the money they doled out.
5) Their money depends upon politics, donations, and the economy.
In other words, there aren’t pots of money waiting for people to apply for a share. The applicants for any grant must qualify using the following mindsets:
1) As if they were applying for a job,
2) As if they were promoting a product, and
3) As if they were seeking a loan at the bank.
As noble as grants sound, grants are a sort of business venture for the grant provider. If they don’t do well with the money they provide . . . if the projects that obtain grants do not demonstrate a positive end . . . then the grant provider has failed. The results? Less grant money to use in the future or even the dissolution of the entire grant entity.
Let’s visit a scenario of a new writer seeking a grant:
A new writer may be from Montana and want to write about a boy who immigrates to New York and experiences a coming-of-age story. The writer asks for a grant to live in New York for several months to do research and think about how he will write the story.
Nobody will fund this grant. Why?
1) There is no need to fund unpublished writers. There is a glut of writers out there as it is.
2) The writer is not experienced and cannot assure the grant provider they can write.
3) The writer cannot assure the grant provider they can publish.
4) The writer cannot assure the grant provider they have a market for the work.
5) The grant provider has to have a mission that somehow fits the story, the writer, or the writer’s need.
So…when you think of a grant, think of it as a loan. They give you money based upon your qualifications, you have to follow their rules, and you pay it back with your project’s success. Grants have needs, too, and they are careful with how they write their checks.