You will need approx 1-2 GRC to get started with solo crunching, which you can obtain from a faucet, a friendly user on our discord server, or an exchange. To collect accrued rewards, you must stake a block or use MRC (manual reward claim) to have somebody stake for you. MRC does have some fees, and the less often you make MRC requests the lower the fees will be. Once you have sufficient GRC (approx 5,000 to stake once a month on average), you will no longer need to make MRC claims as your wallet will be able to regularly stake blocks on its own.
Don't Want BOINC/Folding@Home rewards?
Switch to the Non-Cruncher guide. You do not need to install or run BOINC in order to use GRC as a cryptocurrency.
To earn Gridcoin, you need to crunch whitelisted BOINC projects or Folding@home. BOINC is a tool which connects you to various research projects incentivized by Gridcoin. You must install the BOINC client and select one or more BOINC projects. Note that Folding@home (a non-BOINC project) has some different steps required to earn GRC rewards, please see this guide before proceeding.