MMMMMMMM! This Biscuit Tastes Like OPPORTUNITY!
TIPS ON APPLYING FOR GRANTS AND PROJECT WORK
WITH DARA SILVER OF THE NORTH CAROLINA ARTS COUNCIL
Creatives can generate an infinite amount of amazing ideas. Generating the funds to bring those ideas to life isn’t quite as easy or exciting. But, it’s an absolute necessity.
That said, how do you craft an effective grant application? For advice on that, we turned to our friend Dara Silver, senior program director at the NC Arts Council. Silver reads hundreds of applications for arts funding every year and she wants to help you write applications she’ll enjoy reading … and funding.
GRANT ADVICE FROM A PROFESSIONAL GRANT READER
Silver joined us for an online training session in June where she provided insight into what makes the difference between applications that secure funding and those that don’t. We highly suggest you consult her slide deck and watch this full video of her talk.
BELOW ARE A FEW OF OUR KEY THOUGHTS AND TAKEAWAYS INSPIRED BY SILVER’S TALK.
Give yourself as much time as possible.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Grantors are serious about application deadlines. If your application is a minute late, it’s a minute dead.
Read (a lot) before you write.
Before you start to write and fill out grant forms, read. READ. READ. READ.
Before you do anything, learn as much as you can about the grant. Read the actual grant questions and requirements all the way through … twice. Read the grant website. Look for a Q & A section or a grant outline page. Find out if there are live/online grant education sessions.
Good things (may) come to those who plan ahead.
Silver advises that grant readers may agree to read your application and give you helpful feedback before you submit your final application. But, you’ll need to ask for it and give them time. The week the grant is due is likely too late to ask for their help.
Make sure you (and your idea) are eligible.
It’s too easy to get excited about how the grant can help you and overlook the fact that you do not fit the grant criteria. Or may miss that the grant has restrictions that will not allow you to use the funds as you hoped. Before diving in head first, make sure you’re eligible. Reviewing past people, organizations and projects the grant has funded is a big help here. Often, grants offer an online list of past grantees.
Tell your story to sell your story.
This is where you should spend the bulk of your time. To sell your story, you need to tell your story well. An effective grant engages the imagination and the heart as well as the head. You want anyone who reads your application to know who you are, what you want to do, why this project is important to you, why it matters to the public, why you are the right person or organization to get it done and how you’ll complete it successfully.
Don’t go it alone. Find effective proofreaders.
Make sure you reserve time for someone (better still, several “someones”) to read your grant application to ensure it makes sense, is engaging and error-free (typos and facts). Ask people who will tell you the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable. Friends who don’t want to risk hurting your feelings won’t help you here.
Do the math. And, make sure it adds up.
Vague, unrealistic or sloppy budgets can dampen the enthusiasm of a reviewer quickly. It’s one thing to sell them on an amazing idea. It’s another to prove to them you have a realistic plan to use resources to get it done. As much as your project needs to paint an easy-to-understand and compelling vision of what you’ll create, an effective budget creates confidence in how you’ll do it. If the grant offers a budget template, use that. For suggestions on crafting a project budget, watch this video from Priya Sircar, arts and culture officer from the City of Charlotte.
Show your work.
Include exciting, vibrant and recent work samples that are similar to what you are proposing. Give reviewers an idea of your process and work ethic in the images you provide. Often, you may share your website and Instagram feed to offer extra imagery. If you don’t have previous work that matches your proposal, create mock-ups and submit those.
READY, SET … APPLY!
Now that you have expert advice on grant application strategies, it’s time to put them into practice.
Below is basic information about grants and paid work opportunities available to you now … or very soon. They’re arranged in chronological order by deadline.
SVP Investee Grant
Administered by Social Venture Partners Charlotte
Register for a Q & A session on 8/21
High-impact nonprofit organizations/initiatives working to address social and economic inequality in Mecklenburg County are invited to apply for the 2023 Investee Grant. Those selected can expect:
- 12-months of volunteer professional support to work in partnership with the organization and its partners designed to strengthen the investee’s effectiveness and ability to fulfill its mission.
- $20,000 of unrestricted cash grant up to be used for capacity building.
- An annual opportunity to renew for up to three years.
A Statement from Executive Director Kristin Winkle Beck:
“We are looking for organizations that are emerging – on the precipice of rapid growth. What they’re missing isn’t just extra funding, but also the components it takes to really run, accelerate and expand the impact of the nonprofit. That could look like board support, a fundraising strategy or a strength in overall nonprofit strategy. Perhaps they have a great program, but are not sure how to scale and expand it. We’re looking for someone who wants that strategic thought partnership who also happens to be a funder.”
NOTE: Click the image above to watch a short video with suggestions on applying for the Investee Grant from Winkle Beck.
SEVEN MORE OPPORTUNITIES
ONE: Beyond Open
Administered by FFTC Partners For Empowering Communities (FPEC)
Deadline: 8/31 at Noon.
Beyond Open is focused on building economic mobility within the Corridors of Opportunity and diverse-owned small businesses. Independent creatives and creative businesses that meet the grant criteria are invited to apply. Nonprofits are not eligible this round. The deadline to apply is just under two weeks away — August 31. The grant application will take time, effort and care on your part, but the rewards are transformative. Grants range from $10,000 to $150,000.
TWO: H.U.G. (Helpful Unfettered Gift) Micro-Grant
Administered by Charlotte Is Creative
$250 micro-grants awarded on a monthly basis to 6-8 Mecklenburg County-based creatives. Applications are always open. Both nonprofit and for-profit entities are invited to apply.
THREE: Urban Design Awards A.K.A. “The Urbies”
Administered by Charlotte Urban Design Center
Nominate your favorite public spaces for the third annual Urban Design Awards from the Charlotte Urban Design Center and UNC-Charlotte’s School of Architecture.
FOUR: Artist Support Grants
Administered by Arts & Science Council
Deadline: 8/28 at Noon
These ASC grants are intended to help artists enhance skills, create work or to improve their business operations and capacity.
FIVE: Create Art for Three Branch Libraries
Administered by Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Professional artists or artist teams may apply for the opportunity to create up to two original, two-dimensional works for three branch libraries that do not currently have public art – Plaza Midwood, Pineville and South Boulevard Branches.
SIX: North Newton Textile History Mural
Administered by Newton Public Art Commission
Artists from all backgrounds, cultures and styles are invited to submit qualifications for a public mural installation recognizing the “men, women, and children who labored in North Newton’s early industrial mills, weaving the fabrics that made Catawba County a textile manufacturing powerhouse by the beginning of the 20th century.” Installation will be Jan. through March 2024.
SEVEN: ArtPop Class of 2024
Administered by ArtPop Street Gallery
Applications open on 9/17
Twenty artists will be selected for innovative public relations aid, events, training and more. If you’ve marveled at the billboards and digital screens sharing works of art all over Charlotte (and beyond) and wondered how your art can be featured, this is the program for you.
PAID GIGS FOR QUEEN CITY CREATIVES IN OCTOBER & NOVEMBER
Charlotte Is Creative is working to organize dozens of interactive, public creative pop-ups in the Corridors of Opportunity, County parks and more in October and November. We’re looking for artists representing a wide array of creative pop-ups to entertain and excite the public, ranging from music to dance to visual arts and hands-on crafts. But, to get started, we need you to share what you can do through this quick survey.
A few notes about these opportunities:
- Creatives living and working in one of the Corridors (map here) or Mecklenburg Districts 4, 5 and 6 will be given special consideration
- Ideas should be vibrant, attractive and temporary
- Hands-on ideas are appreciated, but not necessary
- Pop-ups should be 1, 2 or 4 hours in length
- Ideas should be planned for an outdoor presentation
- Ideas not requiring using power (unless you are providing it) are preferred
- Budgets for these engagements will range from $250 to $1,000; please provide ideas that can scale up or down
- While you are welcome to suggest them, permanent murals may not be feasible for many of our available engagements
- Pop-ups will take place on weekends during daylight hours
HOW TO APPLY
Submit your ideas by 11:59PM on Monday, August 21. If you have completed this survey before, you may submit a new idea for a public engagement. Otherwise, don’t worry. We will be taking your previous submission into consideration for this work. It may be several weeks before you hear from us, but please know we’ll be in touch.
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