Free Money from the Government
There is a humorous commercial that is shown from time to time in which a rather funny character does his pitch wearing a suit that is covered with question marks and dollar signs. The man is pretty funny looking in his own right. But the upshot of the pitch is that you can buy a book from him that will tell you how to get “free money from the government”. Of course, the book itself is not free and the chances are that the business and/or the pitchman make their living from selling that book and not from free money from anyone. But the reason that advertisement is appealing is that we have an urban myth that the government is overflowing with money that it is looking to give away if we can just know how to punch the right buttons. This is the mystique of the system more formally known as government grants.
When you do your homework, it turns out that the truth about government grants reveals a much different situation than the windfall of funds that they funny man in the question mark suit might lead us to believe. Now, it’s true that the federal government does issue dozens and dozens of grants for research and other community related causes each year. Many of these grants are used to help small businesses get off the ground that might otherwise flounder. This is one of our government’s methods of leveling the playing field in the business world to give the little guy a chance to get started. But it is also a way for the government to get funds to worthy nonprofit efforts that have a mission statement that benefits the community or the culture at large.
Another insider’s trick that the man in the question mark suit doesn’t want you to know is that you can find out all you could ever want to know about government grants for free. The government wants you to know about these funds so they can find the most qualified businesses or nonprofit charities to help out. You can go directly to the government web site on grants and use their search engine. Use the .gov domain search tool on Google and you will find ample resources to guide you. Another great resource on the web is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance which has the tools to find grants by topic and by your area of expertise, The misconception that we get in our heads is that because these are “grants”, there is no work to getting or using this governmental money. The process of applying for and competing to win a government grant can be just as much work as any job and perhaps even more frustrating because you are in competition with others for limited resources. Just as some people win at getting government grants, other people are not granted the money they seek. This is a part of the gamble of going after a government grant that you must reconcile yourself to before even you start the process. Be prepared to be patient, learn about the steps and give each stage in the development of your application for the grant plenty of time and tender loving care.
You will have to gain a good comprehension of the myriad of government agencies to find the one who would be most likely to look at you for a grant. The process of filling out the grant paperwork and submitting your proposal is a discipline in its own right that you may even have to seek professional help to do well. But if you do well, use plenty of patience and your project is worthwhile, there is government out there to help you. You just have to take the time to learn how to go after it. PPPPP 645 .
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