By now you have researched and found some organizations that fund writing projects. What do you do next?
Get organized. It can be demoralizing as you stare at a stack of grant info with no way to determine where to start. Do not throw up your hands. Instead, sort the information by deadlines. For each deadline that is more than two months away, file the info and make a note in your calendar to start work on this grant two months before it is due.
Next comes a crucial research phase that lays the foundation for successful grant writing. Think of it as a matchmaking game: you are trying to figure out if this funder and you are a good match. Starting with the grant that is due first, look at the criteria for applying. What types of projects does this organization fund? Read its mission statement. What is it looking for? What might make a project irresistible to it? Investigate: What projects has it funded in the past?
Check out the other writers who have received grants. What’s the common denominator in the projects it’s funding? Your project does not need to be identical to other projects the group has funded, but it does need to be in the spirit of projects this group likes to fund.
Then, make a list of questions. At some point you will be ready to have a conversation with the granting organization, but not yet. When you finally do call it, you want to have a list of the smartest questions to ask. You don’t want to ask something that is clearly stated on its website or in the application guidelines.
Your goal at this point is to assess whether this organization is worth pursuing. Is it worth your time? Is your project worth the organization’s time-and money?
If you conclude that this group is not a good match, Bravo! You don’t need to spend any more time with it. On to the next grant application!
Your assignment for this month is to find one or more organizations that fund writers and be your own best investigator: What makes this organization tick? Do you think it could love your project? Do you think you could love it? Or do you feel you’d have to tweak your project so much that it wouldn’t interest you anymore? Your research will turn up questions. Write them down.
Next month we’ll talk about that first phone call with the funding organization. For now, remember that your time is too precious to waste on organizations that aren’t the right match for your project. Go gather your prospects. You’re looking for the perfect match.
Gigi Rosenberg is a writer, teacher and occasional performer of edgy, comic monologues on motherhood, relationships and the existential nature of being. Her essays and how-to articles have been published in Writer’s Digest, The Oregonian, The Jewish Review, Cycle California! Magazine and Parenting (forthcoming). “The Hanukkah Bush,” her radio commentary, was featured on Oregon Public Broadcasting. She coaches writers on how to read in public and teaches regional and national workshops on “Grant Writing for Success.”