Back when I was a struggling starry eyed author, I made one single decision that changed my life.
I listened to the voice in my soul that said,
“You story is what the world needs to hear.
And I started to study what I needed to be successful.
And perhaps even more importantly, what obstacles I needed to kick out of my way from being successful because I knew what was at stake.
That was just a part of it…
I now had more than a goal – I had a mission.
I was driven by a newly focused passion to fulfill my mission to share stories about what connects us as people with the world.
That started me on a path of personal development as a creative soul that has never stopped. Along the way, I’ve been successfully published and built a happy life never straying from that single mission that guides me every day.
It wasn’t always fast or easy, but it has been an amazing journey.
And here’s the interesting thing…
Over the years I have met hundreds of successful artists and creative people. Do you know what EVERY SINGLE ONE of them share in common?
They are all serious students of success armed with a powerful mission.
Why this is so important for you
The fact is, you have to get your inner game together before the outer success comes.
To gain success in creating a rich life, you need give the world unique value only you can create.
How do you start?
Writing a grant is the best way to begin.
Consider it “a shot across the bow” into a world of foundations and philanthropies who exist soley to make the world a better place by giving away money to people with passionate missions like you.
Not to workshops…
Not to exhibitions….
Not to projects….
People fund people.
That is, people with passion in their soul for a mission that matches perfectly with their own.
If that basic chemistry is amiss, the workshops, exhibitions and projects are meaningless.
I have worked with hundreds of artists after sitting on international, national and local grant review panels for over a decade and I know what works and what doesn’t.
Successful artists do certain things right.
And when they get a grant, they move up to the next level. They do what I call “grantstacking” to build successful careers and lives.
Are you an artist looking to grow your career?
Have you ever written a grant?
Did your grant proposal get turned down?
Here’s how to study for success
I want you to be the one clutching an award letter in your hand.
You deserve to have the money and support for your creative project.
Because you are an artist with a vision that can change the world.
The same world that foundations, philanthropies and yes, even the government wants to make better.
The same world that wants my stories.
The world that wants what only you can create.
The Most Important Question
Of all the questions you have to answer in a grant proposal, the one that is not always obvious but is the most important one you need to nail is this:
This is your mission speaking.
And the second most important question is:
This is urgency speaking.
Even if you do not see this clearly spelled out for you, answer it.
The answer to Why? is why you are the best candidate for the grant.
This is the answer a grant panelist needs to guarantee that your proposal makes it into the Yes pile.
Your answer will show that you know exactly what the funder’s mission is and what is important to her. That your missions are aligned.
You will make her confident in your ability to successfully carry out your project and achieve your shared goals.
The answer to Why now? is that you recognize an urgency, a need, a moment and you have a vision for something amazing to happen.
Yes, we need information.
Your proposal will include a lot of that.
But on a deeper level we need inspiration.
Consider this when you put your proposal together:
A stack of proposals towering over a bleary eyed, under-caffeinated group of grant panelists. A handful will be really great and immediately rise to the top. Another handful will be really bad and get eliminated. That leaves a lot of proposals sagging in the middle.
You want to be in the the fistful of winners.
The secret sauce
“God, I just want to be unexpectedly delighted,” sighed one of my fellow grant reviewers at the midpoint of a fellowship panel recently.
“Can you be more specific?” I probed, secretly delighted myself because I, too, was feeling the fatigue of wading through a sea of faintly inspired proposals.
“There’s this great quote by J.D. Salinger –
What really knocks me out is a book that,
when you’re done reading it,
you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours
and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.
– well, that’s the kind of feeling I look for in a great proposal.”
That has to be one of the best definitions of delight I have ever heard and it really captures the essence of that unmistakeable quality of a great proposal.
How are you going to use this?
Some of you may be newbies at writing grants.
Many of you are busy and quite overwhelmed thinking about doing another thing like writing grants.
Some of you wonder how you will stand out from your competition if you are not well known.
If this is you, it is great to be you!
You can use these 2 questions to drill down to what your core mission is as an artist and why you need the grant now. Your answers will position yourself not as an applicant, but as a partner to your funder.
What do funders really want?
Some of you don’t know where to start.
Mission is the bedrock of your inner game. It is what you build your passion on and what attracts success.
Start by defining and refining the answer to Why? and Why now? to bring your personal creative mission into crystal clear focus.
This internal journey will probably take the most time and effort but will be the most powerful message you can create for yourself.
A little research about recent grantees can tell you a great deal about what a funder’s mission is and what they are passionate about.
If that resonates with your answers to those 2 questions, you have a good prospect.
One last, but very important thing…
You are competing for a scarce commodity: attention.
The one thing that will startle people into giving you another precious moment of their time and attention is –
Convince me you are the best candidate for the grant, persuade me that the time is now…
Startle me with a bit of imaginative thinking, or simply delight me, and you are golden.
You people are amazing artists, you know how to do this better than anyone.
About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists & creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies & mindsets she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker & grant writer. Sign up to download her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.