For our third birthday we launched the Share Your Story: GovGab Guest Writer Challenge. We’re proud to showcase our winning posts, which will run this whole week.

Sandy Pon

Sandy Pon is a librarian with the Foundation Center who likes musicals, the scent of tea olive blooms, southern Arizona sunsets, and sunny days with temperatures in the 70s-80s. Save money…Get a public library card and use it!

I work for the Foundation Center,
an organization that helps nonprofits find foundation and corporate
grants. Naturally, we also get a lot of questions from individuals who
ask about money to start a business, go to school, or help with bills,
home repair, and other personal expenses.

Rarely do foundations give grants to individuals. When they do, it’s
usually to help pay for college tuition or an artistic or research
project. So we librarians will point them to government portals because
they’re content rich and most importantly, can help people zero in on
related local agencies. Below are some that I refer visitors to nearly
every day: is the main portal for any individual seeking assistance, be it for tuition, bills, or other expenses. Answer questions in the Benefit Finder
to get matches from more than 1,000 Federally-funded benefit and
assistance programs. Each program description provides citizens with the
next steps to apply for any benefit program of interest. Page footers
link to programs by state or category. is a comprehensive resources for for-profit enterprises that typically don’t qualify for grants. It even has a link for Loans, Grants, and Venture Capital.
Many people think that they can get grants to start a small business.
On rare occasions that may be true, but generally, one can’t get free
money to start a business, especially from foundations.

See also SCORE,
a nonprofit whose volunteers are working or retired business owners,
executives and corporate leaders that give free and confidential small
business advice for  budding entrepreneurs. contains
all discretionary grants offered by the 26 federal grant-making
agencies and allows users to apply online at its site. Perhaps more
comprehensive is the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, which contains all federal programs. (Is a merge of the two sites imminent? Let’s hope so…)

Last but not least, the Federal Trade Commission also warns how to avoid the abundant grant scams that prey on people’s desperation or vulnerability. Users also can file complaints at its site.

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