How to Obtain a Grant for the Arts

A feature image for a blog post about grant writing in the arts.

Like many other creatives, I’ve had my fair share of moments where I needed to come up with some funds for my projects. Despite relying heavily on donations and fundraisers, grants were always on my mind as a possibility.  All I knew was that a lot of charities, small business, and art projects relied on grants, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about obtaining one. Here are a few things I learned while looking into how to acquire a grant: 

Understand the Kinds of Grants Available  

Before you start applying to grants, you should know the difference between the kinds of grants available to you.  

Public funders are the three levels of government (federal, provincial, and municipal). Each level of government has funding opportunities for the arts. Pursuing government grants are probably where you’ll have the most success. However, there are also private funders, private organizations, that are willing to allocate funds to artists whose project aligns with their goals. Landing a deal with a private funder is a bit harder. Unlike government grants, a private grant’s application process isn’t as straight forward. They often change with each foundation and it’s very rare that their application process is publicized.  

After discovering a variety of grants situated to certain purposes, I realized that not I’m not going to always be eligible to apply.  

Research Your Eligibility  

The last thing you want to do is start applying for a grant and then half way through writing the application, you find out that you aren’t eligible for it. Now, you’ve not only wasted your time, but the grant jurors time as well. Many applications will have different requirements. In some cases, you might need to prove that you’ve already gained a sum of money through donations or other grants. Others might ask for proof that you’ve already completed a certain amount of your project or have been in business for a year or more. Whatever it might be, make sure you know what the application is asking of you.  

Know the Basics  

Not every grant application is the same, but from what I can tell, most are going to require you to be able to explain these key things: 

  • who you are and what it is you do; 
  • what exactly you want to do with the funds and why; 
  • what the goals of your project are; 
  • how much it might cost to accomplish those goals;  
  •  and how much money and time you’re willing to contribute. 

If you feel confident that you could answer all those questions, then you’re more than likely ready to start filling out applications. That being said, writing applications takes time and shouldn’t be left to the last minute. 

Be Aware of Grant Deadlines 

Every grant is going to have its own deadline and you should be giving yourself enough time to prepare a solid application. This also means allotting yourself enough time to make sure you’re able to submit the application in early. There is a lot of competition when it comes to obtaining a grant and most applications are submitted online. This means you could easily miss a submission deadline with everyone trying to submit their applications at the same time—not all sites can handle that kind of traffic. It’s also very easy to miss a deadline because you’re not keeping an eye on the dates. If you can, spend a moment putting application deadlines in your calendar, giving yourself ample reminders. Don’t spend all that time filling out an application and then failing to submit it because you didn’t manage your time.   

My last and final tip is a simple one. 

Hire a Professional Grant Writer  

I enjoy a good challenge, and writing a successful grant application is definitely that. I am sure after a few trial and errors I’d eventually land a successful application, earning my company or project a nice sum of grant money. The achievement in gaining the grant would be rewarding. Not to mention, once you’ve succeeded in doing something, it only gets easier the second and third time around. Which is why I encourage you to give it a go.  

On the other hand, I want you to ask yourself where your time, in regards to your project, might be better spent. Remember, writing grant applications can be time consuming and sometimes it might be more efficient to invest in the skills of others. Of course, it will cost you a bit of money, possibly a percentage of the grant amount obtained, but a professional grant writer will know the ins and outs of how to write grant applications and have successfully gained funding. They already know things like:  

  • the right grant for your project, 
  • what needs to go into grant application, 
  • the questions that need answered,  
  • and the deadlines for when applications close.  

Just make sure you do your research and hire the best grant writer for your needs. Here is a good place to get started.