As the Grant Writer at Kent ISD, I have been writing grants for education for the past eight years. Along the way I have run into several types of grants that raise alarm bells. These are grants that, for a variety of reasons, may not be a good use of your time to pursue. Below are a couple of “bad players” that you should watch out for:
- Sales discounts masquerading as a grant. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to a teacher who was looking for money for technology who ended up being bamboozled by a fake “grant” offer.
What to watch for: Read the fine print! The offenders are the grants that end up being a discount for money off a product or maybe an offer for something free like software.
Green light: This doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you really wanted whatever they are trying to sell or give away, but if you wanted cash to buy something, this is not the place to look.
- Elaborate grant “contests.” There has been a trend towards “crowdsourced” or “crowdfunded” grants. Case Foundation has been a leader in exploring these new ways of giving. A particularly toxic strain of this practice has developed, usually offered by corporate funders. Many of these grants seem to be aimed at teachers and subsequently their students.
What to watch for: They usually involve the submission of a nontraditional “application” but one that has a lot of marketing value. Frequently, it is in the form of a video or perhaps a written essay. These “applications” are then posted on the company’s website and then the second phase starts. This is when applicants must encourage people to vote for their submission. The one with the most votes “wins” the grant or funding.
The problem: For the cost of one of these grants, the company has gained a lot of video content they can post on their website, as well as, people driving traffic to their social media site. Seems like a pretty good deal for them.
Green light: If having your entire class creating a video on the given subject aligns with your curriculum goals, then go for it. If not, then I’d probably pass.
If you are interested in more grant writing timesavers…
In my Grant Writing 101 Class, I spend a lot of time talking about making the “right fit” with a grant funder before writing a grant. Let’s face it, writing a grant takes work. In my class I can show you a number of tricks to make it less work, and one of them is not wasting your time on the wrong funder.
Click Here to sign up for⇒ Grant Writing 101
held on Tuesday, October 28th from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. at Kent ISD.
To learn more about Grants and Fundraising, you can also subscribe to my free e-newsletter. Subscribers to this newsletter receive lists of grants you might be interested in applying for, as well as, good information on fundraising for parent groups and small non-profits.
Also feel free to contact me if you have questions about the grant writing process, need help locating funders or any other questions about grant writing or fundraising. I’m here to help! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 616-365-2273.