Tips for Successful Grant-Writing

Keep in mind that a successful grant is based on two things - the quality of the project and the ability of the applicant to successfully carry out the project. A few helpful tips to keep in mind:
  1. Do your homework. Read the guidelines thoroughly before you begin writing. Be certain that you are applying to the right program. If you have questions about the appropriateness of your application, contact the Council office well in advance of the deadline.
  2. Prepare a timeline backwards from the postmark deadline that will allow you enough time to think through the project, draft, revise, and edit your proposal. If your application arrives at least 30 days before the application deadline, staff has time to review it and offer you the opportunity to make corrections/changes. Institutional Support grantees whose grants are received less than 30 days in advance of the deadline date will be contacted to make budgetary corrections found during the staff review of their grant.
  3. Fill out a practice application. Make blank copies of the application form.
  4. Draft your application narrative and budgets.
    • Be concise and specific in your narrative.
    • Maintain a positive tone; write in an active voice.
    • Answer all questions, write "not applicable" rather than leaving the question blank.
    • Make sure your budget supports the goals of your project.
    • Itemize where asked.
    • Check your math.
    • Specific information will give the panel a clearer picture of your project.
  5. Put yourself in the panelist's position. Don't overload the reader with too much unnecessary information or verbose language. Simple, everyday language will best convey your ideas. Plan and organize your application with a well-structured outline. Each part should provide necessary information about your organization or project. Have someone not directly involved with your organization read the application. Having read only the application, ask their opinion about what your needs are, what you are requesting, and your ability to conduct the project.
  6. Submit a draft or discuss your proposal with Council on the Arts staff for review and feedback. This doesn’t guarantee funding, but staff can help you strengthen your proposals. Build this into your timeline.
  7. Revise according to feedback. Incorporate outside comments into your proposal, double-check spelling, grammar, readability, and math.
  8. Is your application complete? Follow the application instructions carefully. A checklist is part of the application. Use it to make sure nothing has been overlooked. Has everything been signed by the correct people? Do you have the appropriate number of copies, support materials, etc. (including one for your records)?
  9. Submit the complete application by the deadline date. Faxed applications will not be accepted. Original signatures are a must.
Applicants should contact the Council staff with any questions.