Tips for Successful Grant Writing: Part 1

#grantwritingbasics #thesamblog

Grant writing is a tricky beast. It is one of SAM’s most requested areas of expertise and our consultants frequently sit down with artists and arts organizations to share their knowledgeprovide valuable feedback, and work on specific grant proposals. But for those of us just starting out and looking for some general advice, SAM has you covered too!  

We rounded up some of our consultant’s best advice for the beginner grant writers out there, to help you get your ideas in order before writing your proposal. No more confusion halfway through writing! Get your thoughts organized first.  

Answer "The Six Ws” and make those details clear.

When you are writing your proposal, it is helpful to have a document open that breaks your project down into really clear bits of information. Start out by asking yourself “The Six Ws” – who, what, where, when, why and how? Answer those questions as clearly as you can in the document, and then refer back to those answers as you continue developing your idea, edit them as needed, and then have the document open on your computer later when you write your proposal. That way you won’t leave out any important information the jury needs to know.  

Practice the elevator pitch.

You have the time it takes to ride an elevator to convince someone of your idea… now GO!  

Practice pitching your idea in your head and to friends, always making it clear what you are doing and why it will achieve what you want it to. Make a game out of it! Try explaining your project in one sentence and in 10 sentences, in the time it takes to brew a coffee and in the time it takes to make your bed. Practice it until you find the right words. And then write those words down!

Know who you are, not just who you are not.

Resist the urge to compare yourself to others, in your own head and in your grants. Avoid saying things like: “Well, our organization isn’t like so and so, and we don’t do this…” In the end, the jury doesn’t want to know what you are not, they want to get to know you.  

Remember that you are an artist, not the idea of an artist. Be the thing you are, own that, and then find a way to explain that clearly to the jury. 

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