Some say it begins with the first six words:
“We are pleased to inform you…”
The blood rushes to your face, you leap out of your chair, you shout, you scream, you fistbump your cat and the world will never be the same.
And of course you should do all those things and savor the moment. Getting a grant, especially if it is your first grant, is an amazing accomplishment
One of my students called me to tell me this the other day and since it was a few days since his last fistbump, coming back to earth has made him realize that he didn’t really know what to do next.
He had focused solely on getting the grant not thinking too much about what his next steps were once he got the grant. Some artists tell me they purposely don’t do this so they won’t jinx the grant
Don’t do that.
The Sequence of Success
I think about this whole grant cycle as a loop. I call it a Grantstacking Sequence.
It begins with you being very clear about aligning your mission with your targeted funder’s mission.
Example: You are passionate about arts education in the public schools. Your funder’s mission is to provide access to test prep for eighth grade students applying to specialized high schools.
You identify common goals.
Example: You and your funder share a common goal: To get more eighth grade students into the specialized performing arts high school of their choice.
You develop a unique offer.
Example: Your project is a training program for eighth graders that is co created with dance, music & art teachers from the specialized high schools that leads to a portfolio review day prior to the school audition dates.
How did you get to this point?
You and your funder did this together
You both entered into the Grant Conversation.
You shifted from being an applicant to being a partner with your funder. By engaging your funder in a conversation prior to submitting your proposal, you learn what is truly important to the funder and you understand more clearly the nuances of their priorities.
The example above is based upon a situation that happened to me recently. The funder supported afterschool portfolio development for visual art students and the grant I submitted was for a program that was exactly that.
Well, not exactly.
My program was for high school students aspiring to enter college. This funder’s specific priority was for eighth grade students preparing for the specialized high school entrance exams.
Same program content.
Different student grade.
I learned this by immediately putting myself in the Grant Conversation phase with my funder after my application was turned down and this is how the program evolved.
The Grant Conversation
This must happen whether you get the grant or not.
As in my case, I did not get the grant so of course, I called for panel comments and this is what I learned. I can take this valuable information and create a project that better aligns our missions and therefore has a better chance of being funded the next cycle.
For my student who did get a grant, the Grant Conversation begins with an immediate thank you.
I always call my funders for comments when I get a grant. You can always be better and by asking for feedback you demonstrate true interest in constantly improving. People like that and it never fails to amaze me that very few people take the opportunity to do this.
You do your project.
You keep your funder informed by sending updates, press releases, or blog posts in addition to any interim or final report they require.
Invite them to the culminating event.
Inquire about a grant renewal.
If there are other ways you can be more than a grantee, find out what they are.
Some corporate funders have blogs on their site and are always looking for good content from their grantees. You can submit a post about your project.
If a funder holds a gathering of grantees, make sure you attend and offer to be helpful, participate on a panel or offer to pitch in the day of the event.
Acknowledge your funders on your printed materials, on your website, on all of your program communications and social media platforms. Give them SEO love.
Remember, the best approach to getting a grant is to take the long view.
Your grant award is part of the relationship you are now building with your funder. Make sure you follow the steps above during the life of your grant to ensure there will be more to come your way.
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. Get her FREE Master Grant Strategy Worksheet and a weekly dose of insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view.