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Make Money By Finding Free Money for Other People -- Become a Grant Writer

Grant writing is an excellent home business idea for any one with a high school education or better, and for those of you who did fairly okay in your English classes.

Your first notion may be to just disregard grant writing as a possibility for you. Don't! Writing grants is not nearly the high art or difficult science that many people believe it to be. The fact is, thousands of grants are written successfully every year by nonprofessional writers, such as social workers, day care providers, church members and other people who need grants to further their goals of helping their community or helping people.

Just what is grant writing? Well, you know what a grant is. It's a sum of money which a government or private foundation grants to an organization or an individual for a specific purpose. A grant is not a loan which needs to be repaid. It is a gift, or sorts, given for a worthy cause. As we mentioned, a grant is very often given for nonprofit community or charityprojects to help people and make a town or neighborhood a better place to live.

But grants are given for many, many other purposes as well. Individuals, such as artists, scientists, educators and students often apply for grants. Private businesses both large and small apply for grants to be used as venture capital for entrepreneurial projects.

Who gives grants? There are two primary sources of grants - government and private foundations. The federal government hands outs literally billions of dollars in grants each year. In addition to government sources of grant money, there are thousands upon thousands of private organizations, called foundations, which were established with the specific purpose of giving away money to worthy causes.

That's where grant writing comes in. In order to get a grant, you must make a pitch - in writing - to the government agency or the private foundation you want money from. That pitch is a written document, which is called a proposal, or grant. Thus the need for a person to write that document - a grant writer.

That's where an opportunity for you comes in. You can hire yourself out as a professional grant writer. Because hundreds of thousands of people are organizations are seeking grants all the time, you may find yourself plenty of business no matter where you live.

How do you write a grant?

As we said, writing a grant is more simple than you might think. The fact is, many grants are as simple as filling out a lengthy questionnaire which is provided by the granting institution. Most other grants follow a certain formula, something like: Introduction, statement of need, description of project, outline of the budget and conclusion.

It is a good idea to take a couple of grant writing classes, which are often available through community education programs, or as night courses at local colleges. Generally, you can learn everything you need to know about grant writing at one weekend seminar. Some programs, such as that offered by The Grantsmanship Center of Los Angeles, are week-long, intensive seminars that prepare you extremely well for this business.

Once you have written your first couple of grants, you will fall into a groove. Also, many granting institutions provide you with specific guidelines and points to cover when you make a request. In that case, it's simply a matter of covering all the points mentioned. When you give all the information asked for, you're done!

To get started in this business, you need to get the word out that you are a grant writer. In most states, you do not need a license or any special qualifications to set up shop.

The best way to get started is to approach a local charity organization, such as a food shelf, a homeless shelter, YMCA or YWCA, community center - and tell them you want to write a grant for them, and that you will do it for free. Doing a few grants for free will teach you how to write a grant, and will give a potential grantee incentive to give you a try. Start small with easier grants of perhaps $5,000 or less. The smaller the grant, the easier it will be to write, in general.

Even if you can successfully obtain a $500 grant for someone, you will have passed an important milestone. You will have proven that you can write a proposal that brings in money.

Having a few grants under your belt is important because the first thing potential clients will ask you is about your experience, and what grants you have obtained successfully. If you can claim even one small success, your position will be greatly enhanced.

Once you have cut your teeth on some of the smaller grants for local charitable institutions, you can begin to charge for your service. Obviously, what you need to start making money are clients. That means you have to market yourself. There are several ways to do that.

The first is advertising. We recommend you start with a small display ad or classified ads in your local newspapers. Be persistent and consistent about running your ads. Don't expect a one-time ad to bring you any clients or results. Most ads take 6 to 8 appearances to catch people's attention, and encourage people to call you.

It is a very good idea to buy a Yellow Pages ad as well. Some 80 percent of all people use the Yellow Pages when they look for a specific service. A large part of your calls will be generated by a Yellow Pages ad.

When people begin to call you, you must be prepared to answer their questions and put forward a professional image that projects confidence. That means you need a professional looking business card, letter head and envelopes that will identify you as a grant writer.

Surprisingly, though, one of the best ways to drum up business as a grant writer is to do it in person, and by word of mouth. As we said, you should first approach local charitable institutions and offer your services for free. Once you do that, however, you will have your foot in the door among the social services community. In most cities, the local providers of human services - from churches to food shelves - will most likely keep you busy for as long as you want to be busy.

How Much Should You Charge?

Some grant writers work on a percentage basis, such as 5 to 10 percent of the total grant award. For example, if you land a $10,000 grant for someone, you get 10 percent, or $1,000. Sounds simple, but in general, working for a percentage is not always a good idea. The reason is obvious. Most grants, now matter how well written, are turned down. If you fail to get the grant, you will have nothing to charge a percentage on.

It's better to work for a flat fee. That way you get paid whether your grant is successful or not. You should make it clear to your clients that applying for a grant is never a sure thing - far from it. Even the best, most sophisticated grant writers have a very small success rate. But you still need to get paid for you work. Just as a lawyer gets paid whether he wins or loses, you as a grant writer get paid for you efforts, no matter what the outcome.

Some grants writer have a flat fee of $1,500 per grant. Obviously, you cannot charge that much for a grant of less than amount. Just use common sense. If you are trying to get a small grant of $1,000 or less for someone, you should charge about $200. That's okay money because small grants will generally take just a day or two to complete. Just make sure you size up the job, the complexity of the grant that will be be required, and charge accordingly. Remember, some grants can run up to 100 pages in length! For a grant that big, you should earn big bucks - perhaps $5,000 to $10,000 - at least!

For more information on grant writing and how to get started, contact:

The Grantsmanship Center
P.O. Box 6210
Los Angeles, CA 90014.

World Class Grant Writing
P.O. Box K
Greenbush, MN 56726
Toll-Free Phone: 1-888-404-5365



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