Despite the rise of crowd source funding, grants are still the bread and butter for many working artists. While they can be competitive and require a lot of work to secure, they should be a regular part of your daily routine. Securing a grant takes more than just filling out the application, and this process can feel a bit daunting at first. Here are some tips for creating a winning grant proposal.
Before you begin the process of writing a grant application, be sure that the grant you are applying for matches your needs and abilities. This may seem obvious but it is an important point. There are grants for all sorts of very specific art forms and demographics. When searching for grants, read the fine print and be sure you fit the description. All the work in the world on a grant application for a sculpting stipend will get a painter nowhere. Being aware of the specifics of a grant can also be to your benefit, applying for grants within a narrower demographic can help eliminate some competition.
Create a timeline for your grant application. At the outset, sit down and go over the application. Write down deadlines and create an outline to follow as you move through the process. Commit to this timeline and do not, under any circumstances, miss a deadline.
Have a fully realized plan and a well thought out budget. Some grants are project specific while others are broader, allowing for general continuation of work. Either way, it is important that you demonstrate to the selection committee that you are capable and organized. Your plan should be a detailed, easy to follow roadmap with a clear, realistic budget. Remember that they are deciding whether to fund your work over the work of many other applicants. Show them that you are a professional in your field ready to put their money to excellent use.
Make sure that when submitting any samples of your work, they look professional. For example, if you’re photographing paintings, be sure the photos are clear and that the painting is the focal point. Your art is the main objective of a grant application and should be showcased accordingly.
Read the instructions on the application carefully. Then read them again. Do not write a single syllable until you are sure that you understand exactly what is expected of you. The fastest way to find yourself in the “no” pile, is to miss or ignore instructions in the application process. If something is unclear don’t just wing it, reach out the organization and ask questions.
Use correct grammar and spelling. While it may seem obvious, it simply cannot be stressed enough. These days lazy speech is an all too common habit. Mobile phones have created a culture of text speak that seeps in to the professional arena more and more. Do not allow this to compromise your grant. If you are unsure about your grammar and spelling, call on friends who can proofread. Write more than one draft of your grant proposal, editing for content and flow every time. Before you submit, have a few people read through your proposal and offer feedback. It is easy to get so close to your own writing that you can no longer see it.
Be prepared to apply for more than one grant. You will not receive every grant you apply for, but this should not deter you from trying again. And again. Grant writing is a necessary part of every thriving artist’s skill set. The more grants you apply for, the more comfortable you will become with the process. Consider each a learning experience and don’t get discouraged. There are more resources here on the Praxis Center Website. There is also a course on grant writing for artists which takes you through the process step by step from finding a grant to submitting your application.