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Grant Proposal Writing

Grants are free financial assistance given through a variety of sources to further specific aims.  Such aims may include research, education, artistic expression, capital development or support for a project of exceptional merit.  Grants come in different forms: some are made to the individual, others are made to institutions.  There are also grants for travel, materials, organizational alliances and collaborations.  It is important to determine the reasons for requesting a grant, such as project completion, community outreach or continuing education.  Applying for a grant is similar to applying for a job – ideally, the applicant seeks to match the goals of the proposed project with the mission of the potential funding source so that both grantor and grantee will achieve a common goal.

Most funding sources fall into one of the categories, below:

  • Federal, state, regional, county, city governments
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Corporate foundations
  • Public foundations
  • Individual trusts

Allow plenty of time to research funding sources and even more time for the application process.  It may take some time to find the best funding sources for a project.  Create a list of possibilities to increase chances of finding an appropriate match.  Whenever possible, ask a colleague to read and critique your proposal, prior to submission.

Books Recommended for Researching Funding Sources

  • Money for International Exchange in the Arts
  • Annual Register of Grant Support
  • Money for Artists
  • Shaking the Money Tree
  • Grant Seekers Guide
  • Free Money for People in the Arts
  • Grants for Film, Media, and Communications

Additional Resources for Potential Funding

  • Grants.gov – www.grants.gov
  • The Foundation Directory –  foundationcenter.org
  • Community of Science – www.cos.com
  • Federal Register – www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/
  • Federal Business Opportunities – www.fedbizopps.com
  • Many foundations maintain websites and email listserves to which one can subscribe for regular updates on funding opportunities

Common Mistakes

If your proposal was rejected because of presentation, it should be rewritten before it is submitted again.

Possible Reasons Why Proposals are Declined

  • Unclear or unfocused proposal
  • Unrealistic in terms of time and money needed
  • Unoriginal proposal that is too similar to a project funded previously
  • Funding source does not award grants in the area requested
  • Materials received AFTER deadline
  • Directions for the application not followed properly
  • Supporting materials missing
  • Poor quality of slides and photographs
  • Work not mature enough to warrant a grant

Sometimes the funding source will provide feedback on why a proposal was rejected.  If not, contact the source to find out in a professional manner.  This information can help improve a proposal for application to other funding sources.