You’ve researched the grants that are available, and culled those that are best suited to your work. Now, you want to write as strong a grant application as possible. Here are five tips to help your application stand out from the rest:
- Give funders a vivid, passionate description of your project. Your application is a summary of the current state of your project. You want to include details that lead funders to think you have thought through every aspect of your project—even things that could go wrong, and solution for those anticipated obstacles. Give funders the confidence that your project would be carried out even if they didn’t end up funding it.
- Apply to opportunities that narrow your competition. For example, if you’re making a series of documentary photographs about the residents of a neighborhood in Atlanta, consider submitting it to grants that fund projects about the city, instead of grants that fund documentary photography work in general. The latter will mean competing against a much larger pool of applicants than the former, so your chances of being funded are inherently less likely.
- Start writing your application way in advance of the deadline, if possible. If you wait until the last minute, and you rush through the process, it’s unlikely you’ll get funded. Not only do your ideas need to percolate in order to take their most articulate and substantial form, other applicants who did take the proper amount of time to think about and write their application will submit an application that will be far more articulate and convincing than yours.
- Share your application with people who both are and are not familiar with your project. Most photographers aren’t writers, and we’re often so mired down in our own thoughts that what we articulate in a grant application isn’t accurate or clearly expressed. Consulting others with a fresh eye can help you determine whether you are expressing what you intended to express—and in clear and direct terms.
- Look at other writing about art to gain a critical distance from your work. Analyze the structure, and the ideas it articulates. Summaries on the inside cover of a book or text on an exhibition wall at a gallery or museum are helpful sources of guidance. In both cases, the texts inform readers while also enticing them to read the book or experience the exhibition. Your project description should comprise your creative process, as well as the steps you intend to take to use funding, in an exciting, well-written way.
In my next blog post, I’lll share five more grant writing tips. Stay tuned!