Sometimes I hear the term “free money” used when people discuss grant funding. Whatever grant funding is, it is NOT “free money.”
In the sense that you do not have to pay it back, it is free money. But that is the only way…
It is a misnomer to refer to grant money as free money, because it is not free.
1. The grantmaker, whether public or private, is going to make you WORK to get their money. They will ask you for all sorts of background on you, your organization, and your project, and you will usually have to put all that information together in a short period of time.
2. To get grant money, you need a thorough, well-written application that answers all the grantmaker’s questions, but also shows in detail how your grant request fits into the grantmaker’s goals and mission. Every grantmaker, whether public or private, has certain guidelines and purposes which they want their money to accomplish. A good application will make this connection, tying the grantmaker’s expectations strongly to the grant applicant’s request for funding. Not all grantwriters make this connection. To get a good application you should plan on paying your grant writer. You can do it yourself, of course, but that is a bit like extracting your own tooth or cutting your own hair – you can do it, but your chances of success are diminished unless you have done it before. A lot.
3. Sometimes there is the idea that the grantwriter will write the grant application for free and get paid later if the application is successful. This is not a satisfactory course of action for many reasons… For a full discussion of this, see my post titled “Why do you charge for grantwriting…?”