Writing a Grant Application

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Creative grants are notoriously competitive. Here are some of our top tips to help you stand out from the crowd. Looking for grants? Check out our

Before you Begin

  • Review the guidelines: do you meet the eligibility criteria?
  • Review the application form: what information will you need to submit, and in what format?
  • Check what support materials are required: do you have these already, or can you create these by the deadline?
  • Call to discuss your proposal. Sometimes this is mandatory. Even if not, a phone call often helps when writing your application. Before you call, write yourself a paragraph of what your project is, and have it in front of you. This is a fantastic way to make yourself known to the grant officer and establish a connection with the organisation. Write yourself a list of questions that you want to talk through with the grant officer: do your homework so you make the most of the conversation together.

Writing the Application

  • Start with your own blank page and write down the who, what, when, where, why and how of your project in the simplest language possible.
  • Begin a first draft of the actual application using dot points under each question, to help you sort out which information about your project goes where. Sometimes you might like to copy and paste the questions into a word document so it is easier to write, edit and share with others for feedback
  • As you write, note the word limit required for different questions. This indicates how much detail you are expected to go into. Don’t be afraid of using dot points and headings to make your word limits
  • Review the objectives or guidelines of the grant program. What keywords or language is used? Where is there alignment with your project? How can you now use some of this language to describe your project?
  • If you are writing the grant together with others, use an online platform like Google Docs, or use track changes on a document that you email back and forth. Be super clear about who is responsible for which section, and when it will be shared with others
  • Use the writing process as a way to deeply consider your idea. The application process can actually be a useful, creative task
  • Always give yourself more time to write a grant application than you actually think you need. Good applications take time, feedback and editing!
  • Consider getting someone who doesn’t know you or your art to read you grant application. Do they understand what you are proposing? Are they confused by any of the art terms you’re using? Good grant applications should be clear and easy to understand
  • A hot tip: try not to say you are making something that nobody has ever made before, unless you have done the research to back that up.

Artistic Support Material

  • Give yourself time to prepare, consider and design this material. Good support material will be incredibly useful for lots of different applications, contexts and opportunities
  • For performing artists, support material will often be in filmed/audio format. Check what the length of support material is required (usually maximum length of 10 mins)
  • Consider what filmed material you have and whether you can use it in its current format, edit it yourself, or whether you need to make material specific for this application. For example, a video with opening credits saying “Support Material for Application for X”
  • Think about where to host it. You can upload a video to Vimeo or Youtube and make it password protected so only the grant assessors can view it
  • For sound or audio artists, specific links to Soundcloud, Bandcamp or other hosted sites are good, or you may be able to attach existing audio files
  • For writers, text is your friend
  • When you are applying for support for a new idea, it is always hard to think about what support material is appropriate. You can provide documentation of a previous, completed work to say, “Look, how great was this last thing I did!” Or, you could make a completely new video with you speaking to camera talking through what you are interested in. Another option is to edit together a collection of materials and references that offer insight into your idea. This can be a creative act in itself. Give it time.

Other Support Material

  • Many grant applications give you the opportunity to provide letters of support. This could be from an organisation you would like to collaborate with on your project, or someone you have worked with before
  • If asking someone to write a letter of support for your application, make sure you ask them well in advance of when the grant is due. You can also offer to draft them a letter of support to that they can edit and personalise
  • If you have large costs in your project budget, it can be a good idea to include copies of quotes or cost breakdowns in your budget support. Check your grant application requirements as some grants will expect you to provide quotes for all costs above a certain amount.

Final Review Before Submitting

  • Try to finish at least a day before the deadline. Take a break from what you’ve written and review it with fresh eyes. This also gives you time to sort out any technical issues with your submission
  • Re-read the guidelines for the grant program, and then your draft application. Have you addressed everything required?
  • Double check the support material requirements—what format should files be in? How many attachments are you allowed to use?
  • Triple check that your budget balances and reflects what you’ve proposed in the main body of the application. Make sure you’ve added any budget support material you need to include too
  • Be sure to save a copy of the application before pressing submit
  • Set up a Dropbox or other hosted program that holds all your submitted materials for applications. They are very useful to build on for future proposals.