Since the coronavirus outbreak shook (and closed down) the world last month, many freelancers have struggled to maintain their businesses and pay rent on time. And while the recent stimulus act has increased the number of loan options available for small businesses, there’s been less media attention on COVID-19 grants that are available for freelancers.
Hold up. What’s the difference between a loan and a grant?
A loan is money you borrow and are legally obligated to pay back. A grant is money that’s given to you and that you aren’t required to repay. In other words, it’s “free money.” Grants tend to be smaller sums than a loan and, usually, the application process is less stringent.
If you feel like a small-business loan is a little extra for your current situation, then a grant may be the way to go.
Here’s a list of eight COVID-19 relief grants for freelancers, hourly workers and small businesses — along with our best tips for grant success:
Freelancers Relief Fund
From the folks at the Freelancers Union, the Freelancers Relief Fund offers financial assistance of up to $1,000 per freelance household. The funds can be used for essential expenses not covered by government relief programs like food or food supplies, utilities (like gas, electric, water, and internet service), and cash to cover critical needs like medical expenses and child care costs.
Any independent worker in the U.S. whose primary source of income is through freelancing, and who has lost at least 50% of their income due to COVID-19, is eligible to apply.
You will be asked to provide:
- 2019 tax-filing or annual financial statements
- Two months’ worth of 2020 financial statements
- Canceled contracts or relevant client communication
To apply: Learn more and apply here.
Facebook’s Small Business Grants Program
Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to up to 30,000 small businesses. These grants aren’t limited to U.S. businesses but are available in the 30 countries where Facebook operates.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have between two and 50 employees
- Been in business for more than a year
- Be in or near a location where Facebook operates
- Experience financial challenges or losses from COVID-19
Funds can be used to pay employees and team members, cover your rent, cover operating costs, and acquire new customers.
To apply: Facebook hasn’t announced an application date, but you can check your eligibility and sign up to get notified when applications go live here. Use the button that says “See available locations” to get started.
Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund
Verizon is investing $2.5 million in grants for small businesses with urgent financial needs. The fund is hosted by Local Initiatives Support Corporation and they’ll process applications and distribute the funds.
Recipients will receive awards up to $10,000 that can be used for paying rent and utilities, meeting payroll, paying outstanding debt to vendors, and meeting other immediate obligations. Entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses and other historically underserved communities are encouraged to apply.
To apply: The next round of applications will open in mid-April. Join the waiting list here.
Bartender Emergency Assistance Program
If you’re a bartender who’s been financially affected by the closure of bars due to COVID-19, or you’re the spouse or child of a bartender, then this grant is for you. A bartender is defined as an individual serving beverages or engaged in the production, promotion or distribution of alcoholic drinks on a full- or part-time basis. To qualify, you need to have worked as a bartender for at least one year.
To apply: Go here to read the eligibility requirements and apply.
One Fair Wage Service Worker Emergency Fund
One Fair Wage is offering cash grants to restaurant workers, delivery drivers, and other tipped service workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To apply: Complete the application here.
Artist and Activist Relief Fund
The fund, created by The Soze Foundation, TaskForce, and Invisible Hand, gives artists and activists cash grants of $250–$750. They have already distributed $90,000 in grants and are in their second round of fundraising.
To apply: The fund has stopped accepting new applications while they fundraise, but you can apply for the waitlist here.
Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund
This fund is for U.S.-based BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) artists and administrators (consultants, facilitators, box office staff, and seasonal/temporary employees) who are financially impacted by COVID-19. The fund will distribute cash grants on a first-come, first-served basis.
To apply: Complete the application here.
Pen America Writers’ Emergency Fund
If you’re a fiction or nonfiction author, poet, playwright, screenwriter, translator, or journalist, Pen America is distributing cash grants of $500–$1,000 to writers affected by COVID-19. To be eligible, you must be based in the U.S., a full-time writer, and demonstrate that a small, one-time grant will support you in an emergency situation.
To apply: Complete the application here. Pen America responds to applications within 10 days.
More grants for freelancers
Here are several lists of freelancer grants and relief resources that have been compiled by other organizations:
- Adobe’s list of grants and resources for artists
- Photo.com’s list of grants for photographers
- WomenArts’ list of emergency funds for artists (divided by discipline)
- GrantStation’s COVID-19 Related Funding database
- Gusto’s state-by-state guide to COVID-19 relief resources
Tips for applying to grants
Start with local grants
Many large, national funds are being exhausted, so it pays (literally) to start within your local area. Begin by searching for grants in your city or county. Then, move on to grants within your state.
Look for grants that are specific to your industry or your personal identifiers. For example, the Women Photograph COVID-19 Emergency Fund gives cash grants to women and nonbinary photographers. Because these grants have additional eligibility requirements, the competition is lower.
Even if you don’t need the funds right now, consider whether you’ll need the funds in a few weeks or even months. With the large volume of applicants, apply now in case there’s a delay in processing your application.
Apply to multiple funds
There’s no guarantee that your application will be accepted. Cover all your bases by applying to various funds.
Small-business loans might be getting all the glory, but COVID-19 relief grants can also make a significant impact on your finances. Apply now, because these small but mighty resources could be the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.
Andi Smiles, small business financial consultant and coach, teaches rad business owners to take control of their finances so they can step into their personal power.
She’s helped hundreds of self-employed folx organize and understand their business finances, while also uncovering their emotional relationship with money. Andi’s core belief is that when business owners are engaged with their finances, their personal awareness around money deepens, creating more sustainable and authentic businesses. She loves helping business owners connect with and feel good about their finances- no matter how many dollars are in their bank account.