If you are going through a difficult financial situation as a result of unemployment, health problems or another hardship, you may qualify for hardship grants. Although most grants focus on nonprofit organizations, there are grants available for personal use.
Getting Hardship Grants
Begin by applying for financial assistance through your local health and human services office. Some counties provide one-time financial hardship grants but require that you apply for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, food stamps and other assistance programs first. Some foundations may want proof that you have been denied other assistance before considering you for a hardship grant.
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Research potential grant opportunities by using a grants database, such as foundationcenter.org. Foundation Center offers a user-friendly database where you can search for grants for individuals. When you are searching, it is important to understand the terminology. For instance, if you are seeking a grant for living costs, you can search under food assistance, rent, mortgage, utilities and housing. If you don't understand how to use the database, Foundation Center offer a simple, free tutorial.
Make a list of potential foundations that you can apply to for hardship grants and review their requirements. Get to know the organizations and look at their giving history, their website (if there is one), and other information. Double-check each organization to make sure that it provides funding for individuals for the area of hardship for which you need assistance.
Write out a personal statement about what has led to you to your hardship. If you have a lot of medical bills or lost your job, explain what happened, what effects it has had on your life and what you plan to do. Figure out how your situation might be different from what other people experience. Try to back up your personal statement with facts, such as income statements showing a drop in income, a letter from a physician stating your medical situation or other information that might be helpful when preparing your application.
Review your application and make sure that you clearly describe your hardship but that you are not exaggerating about your situation. Make sure that you have all of the necessary documentation required to support your statements.
Send the application for a hardship grant by regular mail. You can request a delivery confirmation. Some organizations and foundations are transitioning to online systems, so make sure that you are applying according to the organization's specifications.
In addition to public assistance and grants from private foundations, many local organizations offer assistance, including churches and the United Way. If they cannot provide assistance, they may be able to connect you with the resources you need in your local area to help you get back on your feet.
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Avoid buying books that promise free money or online sites that want you to pay a fee. Avoid paying for a grant writer’s services if she provides a 100 percent guarantee. There are no guarantees in the grant process, as it is highly competitive and each funder has a specific review process.