Tips for better grant writing.

Artist managers are constantly looking to find and introduce new revenue streams to their clients' revenue mix. One way is to take advantage of grants. Grants represent money for the taking, money that organizations are more than happy to give away as part of their mission.

Photo by sparkieblues.Once an opportunity has been found, it's important to capitalize on it by writing a winning proposal. Here are some thoughts from my experience:

Read the request. Read it again. And again.

To write a successful proposal, you must have an intimate understanding of what the grant is about and what is required. Keep in mind that details may be hidden, and a painstaking review of the request is necessary. Despite this, the grant-making body wants a proposal that addresses their specific needs, so all the answers you need to write a compelling application are part of their request. Read their materials closely, being sure you understand not just what you should provide, but what exactly they are looking for.

Write a story.

The application is not a checklist to work your way through. It might feel that way, given the list of required supporting documents you will use to keep track of it all. However, a convincing proposal will tell the story of your organization as it relates to the goals of the grant-making body. Their request is actually a story about a successful candidate. Write your own story in return.

Speak their language.

As you read through the request, take careful note of the language. The grant-making body is telling you what they are looking for. Use their words in returnwrite your proposal using the same language. Doing so will increase the chance that your proposal will be understood for what it is. Be clear and concise; don't lose them with complicated jargon. Also, don't assume anything about the reviewersfailing to explain even a simple point that you think is universally understood can exclude you from contention.

Ask questions.

The grant-making organization's goal is to give away the money. To ensure this, they will offer seminars, FAQs or even one-on-one consultations. Take advantage of them. If you have a question about a part of their request that seems vague, ask the question. The request lists specific requirements, so if there is any confusion about them, be sure to clear it up. Otherwise, your proposal won't actually include what the grant-making body is looking for.

Get organized.

Your proposal will be overlooked if it doesn't provide what is asked for, so keep your own checklist of the requirements. Include anything extra that you might uncover through multiple readings. If the grant requires one stapled original application and eight paper-clipped copies, provide that. If it calls for original samples of marketing materials, don't submit copies. If there are limits on page length or font size, heed them. When it comes time to assemble the application, use the checklist you made and lay out all the materials so you can keep track and assemble everything neatly. Don't forget the timeline: Researching, writing and compiling the materials for a successful grant take time. Make sure you allocate enough to ensure you can make the deadline.

Get feedback.

Some grant-making bodies will offer feedback to candidates they did not select. Take advantage of this valuable resource. Grant writing is a skill that benefits from experience, so if you get the chance to have the grant-making body explain why you weren't selected, take it. Also, see if you can find a copy of the winning proposal and try to see if you can determine why it was successful. This information will be invaluable for your next proposal.