Matthew Lesko offers these pointers to people in search of government money:

* If you find a likely program, assume there are others. "Ask about similar programs in other departments."

* Remember the money you seek may not be where you think it should be. "For example, the Department of Agriculture supports teen-age entrepreneurs, and the Department of Labor will finance doctoral dissertations."

* Don't give up if you think you are ineligible. "Many programs for state and local governments," for example, "make individuals their ultimate beneficiaries." That could mean you.

* Ask to see a copy of a successful application. "If you encounter any difficulty, write the federal office in charge of the program, and request a copy under the Freedom of Information Act."

* Talk to the people in charge of the money. "Review your forms with the program officials. Many funding agencies have offices throughout the country to assist you."

* Ask your congressman's office about copies of appropriation committee hearings. "Often the program of your interest may be discussed in these hearings."

* Use a personal approach. "Even getting money from the federal government can be a people business, and it is up to you to encourage it."

* Provide what's needed. "When you prepare your applications, give the government exactly what it asks for, even though it may not make much sense to you."

* Start small. "Initially, ask for enough money to complete a small portion of your project. The next year, ask for the rest. In this way a program officer can get to know you before he gives you a large amount of money."

* Don't give up. "If your proposal is rejected, learn what you did wrong and try again next year, or try a different program.

* If you get stuck, contact your congressman. But only when the bureaucracy comes to a halt on your paperwork."