Monday, August 18, 2008

Resources for Tough Economy

I've recently received emails from people looking for grants that aren't, well, typical. By and large, grants are for non-profit organizations. But it seems that everyone is trying to make ends meet, and it is getting harder and harder, so people are looking for creative solutions. (I've even published a book of my short stories in addition to Fifty Funders and Simply: Grant Writing - see sidebar.)

While I'm always glad to help when I can, I've found myself out of options or at least not the best resource for some who have contacted me. So I decided to put together this rather unusual list.

1. Grants for Individuals

If you are an individual artist, you may be in luck. Grants do exist to assist artists (dancers, writers, visual artists, musicians), but most of these go to established artists with a body of work and positive reviews.

Otherwise, if you are looking for assistance due to a medical condition, you need to contact your church, your commissioner, possibly your consulate if you are from or in another country, or your human resources director if you work for a large company. These options may lead to a fundraiser on your behalf or some discretionary funds. Another option is the local branch of the national organization that deals with a particular type of condition (American Cancer Society, for instance), which may be able to provide additional information.

2. Scholarships

Many people are changing fields, and some may have to go back to school. The best place to start is the Financial Aid office of the school you want to attend. Get to know this staff well, ask about Pell Grants, grants for your particular course of study, loans, work options (part-time, on campus, co-op, etc.), fellowships. Staff will help advise you, may be able to help fill out applications, and they will have you in mind for anything that comes along.

3. Small Business (other than non-profit)

The Small Business Administration does not offer grants for small businesses, despite all those ads on television. However, if you own a small research or technological firm, search to find competitive bid options for small businesses. The Small Business Administration does offer loans, training, and other types of assistance for small businesses. You may also sometimes find local grants such as Mom and Pop grants offered through your local commissioners. Rare grants exist for women owned businesses, minority owned businesses, or limited types of industries. Companies in the education field might try the Department of Education.

If anyone knows of other options, I welcome comments or emails to Hang in there.