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To grant or not to grant

Today’s question — how did we get to be so dependent on grants?

There is certainly no joy in hearing that Carey Price is  hurt.  What  rotten  luck.


Today’s question — how did we get to be so dependent on grants?

The “grant industry” is huge. Thousands of non-profits get mazillions of dollars in grants; lower levels of governments get money from higher levels; even businesses get grants. Corporations have grant programs and some private foundations exist only as grantors. Our economy would collapse without the system.

You can get a grant for almost anything if you can write a convincing application. There are even organizations that get grants to teach people how to get grants.

Grants can be a good thing. Or not. Many valuable programs wouldn’t exist without them. The best projects, in my opinion, provide needed services and a job or two. On the down side, grants are a cheap way for governments to get out of providing the services themselves, too many projects end when the grant isn’t renewed, and sometimes iffy projects get funded.

Private foundations seem to be pickier in awarding grants, but maybe that’s because politics or personal biases often influence government decision makers. For example, the Harper government’s vendetta against environmental groups. Then too, most grantors have a set budget and feel obligated to spend it all regardless of a project’s value.

Most grant receivers have a project and hunt for a granting source. Others (grant groupies?) hear of a grant then invent a project to fit it.

My first experience with grants was decades ago with the federal Local Initiatives Program. Former city councillor Terry Issigonis and I were on the B.C. selection team. Faced with hundreds of applications, we divided them into  “yes, no and maybe” piles.

On the first go around, the yes pile was really skimpy. The money had to be spent, so poor programs were funded. That experience coloured my thinking.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.