The Grant People sales people know how to smooth-talk. How to reassure you that your company (or you) will get hundreds of thousands of dollars. How to convince you that your company is a prime candidate and that many corporations will be ecstatic to give you their foundation money.
It is all a scam. After many conversations, many questions, many reassurances, checking out their website, our small business paid this company $2500, the first half of our fee to cover their "research" and time. They said the second $2500 would be due when the grant was given. In fact, they said, they don't get their "real" money from us, the grant applicants. They get huge commissions from the foundations to find someone to take their money, so we should be assured that they are not conning us. Thankfully, we realized it was a scam before we gave them any additional money.
Their lies included:
1. LIE: There are millions of dollars of grant money just waiting to be given out. Corporations and foundations must get this money awarded quickly for tax reasons. If you don't hurry and submit your application (with $2500), the money will go to someone else.
TRUTH: Grants are turned down each year because there is not enough grant money available for all the requests. You never should have to pay to apply for a grant, unless it is a minimal application fee. These foundations have their own grant application process, and are not wringing their hands trying to find someone to take their money.
2. LIE: We will do research to find the grant money available to match your organization's activities and services.
TRUTH: They sent generic form letters that had nothing to do with the services our company provides -- completely unrelated, and not targeted at all. What is worse, they sent these letters in our company's name. The actual foundations that they list have their own extensive grant application process, which you can legitimately follow through the foundation itself.
3. LIE: Your organization fits exactly what grant providers are looking for. The only reason you wouldn't receive a grant is if you are misrepresenting what your company does. 97% of applicants like you receive a grant, and the 3% that don't were lying about their business.
TRUTH: They knew hardly anything about what we do, and did not ask enough questions or gather enough information to really understand our business. They do not even give out grants, much less to 97% of applicants.
4. LIE: They cannot give out references because their customers do not want to be bothered, and the financial information is private by law.
TRUTH: We did get the salesperson to give us one reference, whom I called. He said he received a grant for $100,000 to help expand his business. I now think this was another Grant People employee used to make the scam seem legitimate.
4. The real kicker: a few weeks later, we received a call that there was a $300,000 grant just waiting to be given out by a corporation/foundation, that they had approved our grant. However, in order for tax benefits to be received by the corporation, we needed to file extensive paperwork that we would never be able to do on our own. The Grant People conveniently had a "separate business" that could file this paperwork quickly for us, since they were "experts" at it, for a small fee of $17,000. (You've got to be kidding!) Not only would The Grant People not provide information about what this paperwork was, but they acted indignant and offended that I would question them about the legitimacy of this.
Months later, we of course have no grant money; we occasionally receive copies of "grant letters" that were sent on our behalf but have nothing to do with our actual type of service; and we are out $2500.
The Grant People is a complete scam of a business and should be sued.