Friday, May 14, 2010

Writing grant proposals as screenplays

I recently took a half-day workshop in grant writing by Jonathan O’Brien which was sponsored by an organization offering Technical Assistance Grants. He compares writing grant proposals to writing screenplays - a useful slant for organizing one’s thinking about important elements to be included. “Time is of the essence” took on new meaning for me. He encourages us to present our proposal within a context of urgency and state the consequences if the project is not funded. He suggests this will get your proposal set in the “consider” pile on the first review. Of course the proposal still has to be compelling and well documented to make it through the process toward funding.

While investigating funding source for a couple of computers for an arts organization, I discovered a case for getting to know staff at the granting agencies... On the website the scenarios were all organizational development with no mention of actual equipment funding. By talking to an assistant at the granting agency I learned equipment would be an excellent cause and was encouraged to apply. The trick is to focus on how the equipment, program or materials (digital images) will serve your audience - not how it will serve the staff or department. Connect each reason of need to an overall goal for your organization. Example - With a goal of creating broad support to develop a more stable base for programming by enhancing communication and increasing membership, the computers will allow us to expand our correspondence with the larger community by creating an email list to share upcoming events, reminders, and an avenue for dialog. Specific details also enhances your request. Example - The single ten-year-old computer has crashed several times in the past year bring all work to a halt each time; most recently it caused a week’s delay in sending invitations to artists to participate in an exhibition, which is a major fund-raiser for the operations of the Center.


The National Endowment for the Humanities

The Humanities Collections and Reference Resources

Deadline: July 15, 2010

If this is a perfect match for your project and you lack experience in grant proposal writing, get help from someone experienced in Federal grants...

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