I have been freelancing for over 20 years and I can best describe my love affair with writing as feast or famine. Freelancing provides me with the opportunities to explore the subjects I am most passionate about: women’s and family matters, education issues and the arts. The pay is steady and a nice supplement to my income as a part-time teacher.
But, over the years, I have learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to making a living as a writer. One time, I sold a piece to a popular national women’s website. I was thrilled because not only was this my first sale to them after previous attempts, but they had also just been purchased by a major multi-media conglomerate. I dreamed of writing many more stories that would reach a wider audience.
Unfortunately for me, the woman who bought my piece left for another position, and supposedly forwarded my article to a new editor. I was unable to contact her replacement and, to add insult to injury, I can only presume my check is lost in cyberspace because I still haven’t been paid. On top of all this, I had lost my second part-time teaching job at the same time my mortgage payment went up!
Lucky for me, there are a number of organizations that give money to writers in financial crisis. I have written to these groups to see me through some rough times and, thankfully, they have responded with funds to help me to get back on track.
Emergency grants are designed specifically for writers who are experiencing hardship due to natural disasters, illness, job loss, aging, or unexpected catastrophes.
All require documentation of your circumstances in the way of a detailed personal statement explaining why you are in a temporary financial crunch, banking statements (copies of your checking and savings accounts) and tax records to demonstrate your income as a writer, utility or medical bills, and personal or professional references.
They might be out there, but I have yet to find any emergency grants that give money for writers to pay expenses related to producing a work, student loans or travel. Most of the grants are made possible from donations from professional writers and philanthropists and some are regional in their scope.
The time you can expect to receive your money varies. It can be anywhere from one month to six months after applying. Be sure your application is complete and compelling. Now is the time to summon your best skills as a writer to explain and convince other writers you are in desperate need. Above all, be patient. Your free money may not come exactly when you want it, but it is always right on time.
Stephen King’s Haven Foundation
According to its website, the mission of The Haven Foundation is to strengthen and sustain the careers of freelance professional writers, artists and others connected with the entertainment industry across the United States (“qualified persons”). The Foundation accomplishes its mission through direct financial assistance to qualified persons, including financial support.
Carnegie Fund for Authors
1 Old Country Rd.
Carle Place, NY 11514
Phone: (516) 877-2141
“Emergency assistance to needy writers who have commercially published at least one book of reasonable length, which has received reader acceptance.”
The Authors League Fund
31 East 32nd St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 268-1208
Fax: (212) 564-5363
The Fund gives open-ended, interest-free, no-strings-attached loans to professional writers and dramatists who find themselves in financial need because of medical or health-related problems, temporary loss of income or other misfortune.
PEN American Center
588 Broadway, Suite 303
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 334-1660 x102
Emergency fund for professional – published or produced – writers with serious financial difficulties. Depending on the situation, the fund gives grants or loans of up to $2,000. (They are very hard to get a hold of, but keep trying.)
American Society of Journalists and Authors
Helping established freelance writers across the country who, because of advanced age, illness, disability, a natural disaster, or an extraordinary professional crisis, are unable to work. Membership in ASJA not required. No grants to beginning freelancers seeking funding for writing projects; no grants to fund works-in-progress of any kind. Maximum grant: $3,500.
1501 Broadway, Suite 302
New York, NY 10036
Phone: (212) 997-0947
Fax: (212) 937-2315
Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers of America
Offers interest-free loans to members facing unexpected medical expenses.
Emergency Medical Fund
PO Box 877
Chestertown, MD 21620
For additional information on emergency grants for writers, check out:
Robyn McGee is a freelance writer, author, and college professor living in Los Angeles. Her latest book “Dear Nana: Grandmother Tales of Love, Secrets and Going Home” is an anthology featuring 30 writers from all walks of life and is available on Amazon.com.
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