Thursday, September 10, 2009

11 Guidelines to Getting Art Grants

11 Guidelines to Getting Art Grants
-Elizabeth Symington

There are lots of places to find grants for your art projects. In fact there are so many it might be overwhelming. This is an investment of time and staying organized is very important. Grant deadlines are often in the spring, so start looking now for where you can apply and put the pertinent information into a database, like Excel. You don’t want to wait until the last minute and possibly run out of time.

One thing to keep in mind is that most grants are from non-profit organizations since the donator gets a tax benefit for giving to them. One way to work this to your advantage is by teaming up with a local non-profit group. For a list of grants for individuals check out the Foundation Center. (Hi Deb, would you please hyperlink to the foundation center? http://foundationcenter.org/) You can go to their brick and mortar location and search their database for free or pay a minimal fee to use it via the Internet.

Look for grants from the government on the Federal, State and City levels, along with private granters. The government offers grants because they need help fixing a problem. In the application write about how you can help them with their problem. Local grants attract less competition which works to your benefit.

The place to start is by writing out what you specifically need the funding for and how much of a budget is required for the project. Then look for granters who have similar goals. You can find this information on their web site under “Vision.”

How to Put the Odds in Your Favor:
1. Confirm Eligibility. Before going through the work of applying for a particular grant, make sure you are eligible. If you are unclear pick up the phone and ask. This will save everyone time. By talking on the phone you starts the relationship with the funder, which is key to getting selected.

2. Plan Your Time. Put the deadline for the application on your calendar and see if you have enough time to get all of the paperwork together, such as a proposal, budget, and letters of recommendation. Be sure to note when the deadline is and when the application needs to be either received or post marked. If you are late, most likely it won’t even be considered and your hard work will have been for nothing.

3. Follow Their Rules Exactly. Each application process is specific to the granter, so make sure you follow their rules to a T. If there are a lot of great applications, they might narrow down the list by eliminating those who have missing paperwork or who didn’t follow the guidelines exactly.

4. Create an Accurate Budget. Some applications will ask how much money you are requesting, so take the time to plan out a detailed and accurate budget. Be as thorough as possible to show that you are thoughtful and that their money will be safe in your hands. Some granters will let you include in the budget the cost of your labor. If you are unsure about including anything in the budget, give them a call.

5. Research Past Winners. It is a good idea to see who has received the grant in the past to get a feeling for what the grant readers are looking for. Often past winning applications are online for you to read.

6. Proof Read Your Application. Allow time for someone to proof read your proposal. Some granters that you apply to will even proof it for you.

7. Make Their Life Easier. Help the grant reader by making your application clean and professional. Be sure to type up your proposal, use a legible font size, and spell and grammar check everything. Often the grant readers are over worked and may even be a volunteer so make their job easier. They will appreciate it!

8. Create an Assessment Plan. In your proposal include how you will asses if the project was a success. The granters want to know how they can concretely determine if their money made a positive impact.

9. Apply for Multiple Grants. Apply to lots of places. It’s best to get so many offers that you have to turn them down, then to not get enough. If you get a grant, it will show the grant reading community someone considers you trustworthy, so be sure to note on your application (if asked) if you have received any grants. You might end up getting the funding you need from several sources.

10. Send a Thank You Note. Just like after a job interview, send a handwritten thank you note. It will put you in a favorable light as a considerate person and remind them of who you are.

11. Reapply Next Year. If you received a grant a previous grant from them and used the money responsibly, they will know that they can trust you and consider giving you another grant. If you have applied before, it shows you really want the grant and they will recognize your name.

There are lots of places to help you with finding funding. There are free classes on how to write a budget like at the Foundation Center (both in-person classes and online). Or, if you’d rather have someone else write the proposal, hire a grant writer and use the proposal as a template for future applications or purchase DIY grant hunting programs.

If you have any suggestions or when you get a grant, please leave a comment. We’d love to hear about your success!

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