TheGrantHelpers.com recently received a question from a reader regarding a grant application that required an application fee. While today’s world of shrinking budgets has forced organizations to get creative in saving or bringing in more money, we would recommend practicing caution when applying for grants that require you to pay a fee for doing so.
Generally speaking, paying a fee to apply for grants should raise several red flags because, simply speaking, most grant-makers do not charge such fees. The existence of a fee could be indicative of a scam, which would cost you much more than the “application fee.” It could also cost you the time and resources you spend putting the application together. Therefore, making sure the organization or foundation you are applying to is a legitimate organization with a solid history is always a wise choice before applying for a grant. Of course, this is true, fee or no fee.
Some organization that require application fees are perfectly legitimate. For example, The American Heart Association (AHA) charges a grant application fee for its AHA research grant application. However, this fee is waived for members of that organization–another growing trend.
Why would the organization charge fees just to later award funding to its applicants? When memberships are down but grant applications are up, there needs to be some way to offset the costs of covering administrative and review costs that are required to select grant winners. Some organizations would argue that if there is not as much income coming in from membership fees or application fees, then there would be less money to award as grants.
Another reason for fees is it deters less serious applicants from applying for the grants. This helps keep those administrative and review costs down, as there are fewer grants to review.
Regardless of your position on whether or not organizations should charge application fees, you’ll want to exercise caution when considering applying to a grant that requires such a fee. If you ever encounter an application and need help sorting out whether or not it is a legitimate opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact us. One of our experts would be happy to help you. Plus, we like to keep aware of what applicants encounter in actual practice.
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