Facebook Twitter pinterest.png  Google Plus

Omphaloskepsis Blog

How to Answer 6 Commonly Asked Questions on Grant Applicaitons, and other great advice on grant-writing

Apr 28, 2015

6 Commonly Asked Questions on Grant Applications and How to Answer Them





1. How will grant funds be used?

Operational: Name concrete expenses you expect to incur, like space rental, equipment costs, or artist fees. This helps the funder see their gift in the context of your individual budget. Mission: Clarify how those specific expenses help you achieve your mission - you need to rent space, purchase equipment, and pay your artists, but it’s ultimately with the goal of making your work and fulfilling the goals you set out to achieve. Make sure you address both aspects of this question, so a funder can see the impact of their gift not only on the specifics of your operation, but also on your mission.

2. How will you define success?

Funders are interested not only in what success looks like, but also how you plan to measure it. Let the funder know the specific metrics you plan to use to track the progress and success of your mission. How many people do you need to reach for the project to be successful? How do you plan to measure this reach? What procedures for receiving feedback will you have in place? Will you distribute surveys? You’ll want to show funders not only your vision for success, but the concrete methods that success can be defined, measured, and achieved.

3. Who are the key collaborators?

Grantmakers often ask for bios or resumes of key staff or collaborators, or they may just ask you to list the names of the people you’ll be working with. Funders like to know who’s involved with the organization, and get a sense for their qualifications and background. In addition to sharing the specifics of your collaborators’ past work, you can discuss how these particular individuals are essential to the success of your project.

4. What will you do if you don’t receive full funding?

Show the funder that their support is essential, but also that you’re resilient and will find a way to make the work no matter what. Let them know other potential funding sources - you could throw a fundraising party, run a crowdfunding campaign, or seek more in-kind contributions to help make up the difference. You might talk about adjusting your expectations - finding less expensive rehearsal space, for example. You’ll want to show them that the work is essential and important enough to you that you’ll find a way it happen.

5. Budget Narrative.

Grantmakers often ask you to include a budget narrative along with your budget. This field is usually optional. It’s usually a good idea to include something. You can use this field to explain how your budget figures were calculated - whether they were based on past income/expenses for your company or research into typical expenses for similar organizations. You can also use this field to discuss other funding sources. Even though this field is optional, it’s important to include some information here, to help shed some night not only on the specifics of your budget but how you are thinking about them.

6. How will your work help further the mission of the foundation?

This is the ultimate question that all grantmakers are asking you to articulate in your application materials. Remember that foundations are also mission-driven organizations, and are looking to support organizations that will help them fulfill their own mission. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the funder’s mission, and find ways to let them know, throughout your application materials, that your work is essential to helping them further that mission.

Every grant application is different. Depending on the priorities of a given funder, they may ask you a wide variety of questions about the work that you’re making, but there are some questions you can expect to appear (in some way, shape, or form) on all grant applications. There’s a reason these questions are found across the board: most funders need to know information along these lines in order to determine whether they’re able to fund your work. When applying for a grant, try to put yourself in the shoes of the funder and imagine the kind of information they might need to know and why. This kind of consideration will strengthen your application tremendously, helping the funder see not only how your organization will achieve its mission, but also how your success will help them achieve theirs.


Here's some additional good advice from Bianca Lynne Spriggs:

Dear Artists, Stop Turning In Bad Grant Applications (Part 1)

Have this artist kit ready at all times

  • Artist Bio.  Keep two types of bios saved on your desktop/USB drive: A short 50-word bio and something a little longer, but no more than 200 words. That way, you can drag, drop, or easily tweak it to fit the needs of the application. 
  • Artist Resume.  Keep it to a page or so, certainly not more than two.
  • Artist Statement.  About 250 words that explain your aesthetic, your process, what drives you, inspires you,
  • Work Sample.  (make sure these are professional quality!) 
  • Elevator Pitch of Current Project.  No more than 1-2 sentences about what you are currently working on. Have a pitch for each project. 
  • Letters of Reference. 

  • Thank You Letters.


The queen of grant-writing is Gigi Rosenberg who wrote THE book on grant-writing for artists

Tags: Art Business
Category: How to
blog comments powered by Disqus
blog comments powered by Disqus