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Myth: Anyone can get a grant.

Reality: Grant makers require evidence of eligibility.

 

This post is part of a series on Myths in Grant Seeking.

 

Some applicants pursue grants under the influence of the Myth of Universal Eligibility. This myth resembles the Myth of Automaticity, except that it has to do with who can get a grant rather than how readily grant awards are made.

 

Under the Myth of Universal Eligibility, any individual or organization is eligible for any grant — as if an applicant’s specific legal status played no role in whether it can get one. Among the variants of this myth are: ‘Anyone can request a grant,’ ‘All we have to do is just ask for a grant, no matter what kind of applicant we are,’ and ‘All we have to do is tell the grant maker how big a grant we need.’ The Myth of Universal Eligibility reflects the peculiar notion that all any organization has to do is to ask for a grant in order to get a grant.

 

Applicants whose headlong pursuit of grants reflects the Myth of Universal Eligibility ignore public and private grant makers’ nearly ubiquitous requirement that applicants prove their legal status as part of establishing their eligibility for a grant. Private foundations require copies of formal letters conferring nonprofit status; public agencies require signed certifications of an applicant’s legal status. Exceptions to such requirements may exist, but they’re far too few to be the rule in grant seeking.

 

Beyond an applicant’s legal status, another significant eligibility criterion is its history as a recipient of past grant awards. If an applicant has proven to be a responsible steward of a funder’s past grant awards, it is more likely to win a future grant award from that funder. If an applicant is a novice grant seeker, it may or may not be a competitive priority as a future grant recipient, depending upon the specific grant maker and its specific grant programs.

 

The consideration of a grant seeker’s legal status as an applicant, its track record as a steward of grant awards, and its status as a first-time applicant are three of the many factors in winning future grant awards that commonly fall outside a grant writer’s control. All of these factors – and others – serve to limit the organizations that can apply for a specific grant. Such factors thus serve to limit the eligibility of grant seekers to something far less than universal.

 

The next post in this series on Myths in Grant Seeking will address the Myth of Substitutability.

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