Grant Geek

How Scam Grant Firms Get Away With It

by Resource Associates @ grantwriters.net

Grant Questions? Let’s talk. info@grantwriters.net 505-326-4245


A message from Deborah Montgomery, the CEO of Resource Associates, about scams and consumer fraud

My name is Deborah Montgomery and I founded Resource Associates 20 years ago. I have worked as a professional grant writer my entire career and have very easily surpassed having written and been awarded over $60 million for my customers. I know what grants are out there and I know how to get them. This makes it very easy for me to identify grant scams and marketing fraud. I often ask my staff:

“How can the public believe all the garbage they see on TV or in their email inbox promising grants and free money?”

But I always have to remind myself being a legitimate professional grant writer gives me insight the general public just wouldn’t have. This is why I created this informative website; so I can share this insight with you.

The best advice I can give you as a consumer is to become educated on grants in general and become even more educated on who is trying to sell you a grant service. Before you give out your credit card information or send anyone money for grant services, it is of utmost importance you take the time to investigate who you are working with and what you are getting yourself into. This includes my company, Resource Associates. My staff will be happy to share with you our Better Business Bureau report, our DUNS consumer information, and as many customer references as you desire. When I say references, I mean actual customers we have worked with who you can talk to – not made-up names and testimonials other firms use to fraudulently promote their scams. Stay away from those organizations not willing to provide their customers with all of these types of resources.

When creating this website, I spent a substantial amount of time researching the claims and services of those “top of the search engine” companies providing grant services. Their websites and marketing materials helped me to develop a list of common claims and statements giving you, as the consumer, peace of mind or giant red flags flashing “caution” “caution” this is a scam! The list below summarizes “things to look for” when doing business with grant firms.

The “guarantee” of grant money

What scammers will say:
Most scammers will use phrases like “$25,000 Grant Guaranteed” or “Free Government Money, Guaranteed.” This guarantee is a total sham because it would be impossible for anyone to keep such a promise. Here is why. Other than “entitlement grants” (these are earmarked funds typically made to government agencies like school districts) grants are competitive. This means you have to compete against other applicants for grant funds. Guaranteeing you are going to be awarded a grant is like guaranteeing your football team is going to win the Superbowl.

What legitimate companies like Resource Associates will say:
Resource Associates spends a great deal of time researching grant competition odds. We can tell you what your probability of funding is for most grants you may consider pursuing before you even apply. We encourage our customers to only go after those grants with the best odds of funding. We can only guarantee you will receive the best quality grant services possible and we never make false guarantees NO ONE in this industry could ever keep. Knowing your odds and then pursuing grants with the best odds of funding are effective strategies to minimize your risk of being denied a grant. It is impossible to eliminate such risk.

The misuse of the term “grants” for what are  actually “loans” and other programs

What scammers will say:
There are a ton of grants available for some types of ventures and there are very few available for others. To claim there are millions of dollars in grant funds available to start certain types of businesses (like a hair salon) is a total lie. Yes, there are small business loans and a small handful of other funding streams available for such businesses, but NOT a million-dollar grant. Many scam firms try to convince the public there is grant money for everything under the sun and if you want to apply and receive the grant money (right now), you have to pay them once you hit the “apply now” button. This is false advertising. The way they get away with this is by using the term “grant” or “funding” in exchange for “loans,” “subsidies,” and “programs.”

What legitimate companies like Resource Associates will say:
When Resource Associates conducts prospect research for its customers, it digs for all different types of funding opportunities; including grants, loans, tax incentives, programs, venture capital, etc. We tell the truth to our customers right up front as to if they can expect a lot or just a few opportunities on their research reports. In the case of a hair salon, there will not be a lot of grant-exclusive funds for the customer but we are not going to lie about this fact or hide the truth just to get paid for a research report not meeting the customer’s expectations. Instead, we spend our energy coaching our clients to consider various business, partnership, and/or incorporation strategies which could potentially maximize their chances of obtaining grant funding (and we do this free).

Use of the phrase “Apply Now”– indicating the customer can apply for a grant instantly (and often with just a click of a button)

What scammers will say:
If only applying for a grant was this easy! Unfortunately, it is not. Grants have long application packages containing forms as well as extensive narrative and budget requirements. It takes weeks to write a grant proposal and to pull these pieces together. It is also important to know most grants are only available for application for one very limited period (usually 30-45 days) within a year or every 3-5 years. Grants also have eligibility criteria most members of the general public could never meet. To claim all you have to do is click a button and the right grant opportunity will fall in your lap with a fully written proposal guaranteed to be awarded is completely absurd.

What legitimate companies like Resource Associates will say:
Resource Associates works closely with each of its customers to identify the right grant opportunity to meet his/her individual needs. We contact funders to ensure the customer is not only an eligible but also a competitive, grant applicant. We spend as much time as possible preparing a grant proposal to outshine the competition. We do all of this at a fee much lower than what you would find from most other firms in the US (legitimate and scam firms).

The credit card scheme

What scammers will say:
Scammers will often obtain your credit card information and charge you a monthly fee you never agreed to or one more than what you were quoted. Scammers then make it nearly impossible to cancel the monthly charge.

What legitimate companies like Resource Associates will say:
Resource Associates will always provide you with a written quote for services before services are rendered. We require our customers to sign a contract holding us accountable to deliver the products we promise. We would never ask for or require a customer to pay for something not agreed to by both parties in writing.

The transparency of the organization

What scammers will say:
Most scam firms have multitudes of registered corporations and fictitious names (dba’s). This is because they are being sued constantly and they have many angry customers trying to get their money back, causing the scammers to constantly hide their real identity from the public. Anytime you try to investigate these types of firms, you will find another business it is affiliated with or a dead end. Just try and contact the references they list on their websites. Everything is made up including their testimonials and clientele.

What legitimate companies like Resource Associates will say:
Resource Associates has been in business for over 15 years and has only moved locations (within a few blocks) twice. The only other entity we are affiliated with is our nonprofit organization. We have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and have never had any black marks from funders, the public, or consumer agencies made against us. We also have several clients who are more than happy to talk with the public about their experiences with us.

The grant database full of useless information

What scammers will say:
Many scam firms will claim they have thousands and thousands of grants in their special grant database. They then charge a monthly fee to their customers to search the database. There is nothing wrong with this apart from the fact that I have never found one of these databases to have a full scope of useful information. Most of the time they list grants only nonprofits, universities, and government agencies are eligible for or they have grants with misguided information and broken links to the application materials. The typical consumer would therefore find hours and hours of his/her time searching for the right grant opportunity leads to nowhere.

What legitimate companies like Resource Associates will say:
Resource Associates updates its website with a few of the grants and loans available at any one time, but this is nowhere near what is available. Our research department spends hundreds of hours per week researching new opportunities, tracking old and upcoming opportunities, and talking with funders to make certain our information is as accurate as possible. We don’t sell subscriptions to our databases because we believe it is our job to profile the right opportunities with each customer, not to encourage the customer to spend hours of his/her time sifting through grants which may or may not be a good fit.

About the Author

Dr. Deborah Montgomery
Dr. Deborah Montgomery

For over twenty-five years, Deborah has had a diverse and successful career in writing grants for schools, higher education institutions, and tribal governments and agencies. She has been awarded well over $200 million in the grants that she has written during the past several years for Resource Associates and is nationally recognized as an expert in grant proposal development and grant management. Deborah is a strong dependable leader who is responsible for connecting Resource Associates’ education and tribal clients with the best possible funding solutions to meet the unique needs of their service communities.

As a twenty year resident of northwestern New Mexico and the Four Corners, which is greatly composed of tribal land, Montgomery founded her own thriving nonprofit agency a decade ago. With Montgomery’s help, this organization writes grants and provides direct services to the Navajo Nation and other local tribes in the realm of youth career and life skill development, drug/alcohol/teen pregnancy prevention, cultural learning and the arts, and comprehensive wellness.

Learn More About Dr. Deborah

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