The Art of Writing For Money

Wi$e-Guy  Money Roll

photo by Gnerk



I am a grantmaker.  I am also a fundraiser so that I can continue to be a grantmaker.

We are in the height of the budget season and I am writing a lot of requests to legislators – capital requests for technology and expense requests for programs.  For money to be used to buy equipment and for money to support art activities.  Every so often I write budget testimony to seek funding support from the New York State and from the Queens Borough President.

A lot of different ways to ask for a dollar.

Yes, it is important to know how to write a grant as well as all of these other things.  But the art of writing for money involves other things you may not have thought about


Kat IMG00308-20110503-1344.jpg

Kat Thompson, Community Liaison for NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie,

is crocheting this eye popping bag and is looking for a pattern

for something called a monokini.  Wow!


It is all about conversation.  If you can listen well, you will learn everything you need to know to turn that conversation into a great relationship that will turn into funding.  Kat and I discovered we both love bright colorful yarn.  I sent her some links to crochet websites and she is going to send me a picture of her monokini.  That is something I have to see.  If you pay attention to the people sitting at the table, you may be surprised at the sound of knitting needles but you will hear the sound of money.

Tell them who you are in seven words or less

Legislators meet with lots of people who need funding.  They like things that are easy to remember.  Tell them who you are in a fistful of words that will startle them into remembering you.  A brief well thought tagline, pitch or elevator speech is a powerful way to impress people with who you are.

Let your passion show

Avoid being boring.  Please.  Legislators will respond to you if you are on a mission that you are passionate about.  Most people will.  Especially if you make them feel needed, that they can help you fulfill your mission that will make the world a better place.  Here’s how Beth Kanter got 40,000 people to donate in one day.  Money follows passion.

Talk about what you both can achieve

This is messaging.  This is strategic speaking.  Can you describe what success looks like for you?  If you can, rephrase it so that this success – increased audience attendance, improved communication tools, higher subscription rates – belongs to you and your legislator.  Share the glory – and the photo op.

Describe your success in one descriptive phrase

“100% acceptance rate, $800,000 in scholarships”

“three full scholarships to Cooper Union”

“a world of art in one borough”

These are examples of recent successes of the Queens Council on the Arts.  We like to create these short catchy phrases to use in our email newsletters, as pull quotes in our annual reports, in press releases.

It makes it easier for people to remember who we are, what we have accomplished, and write a check.

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If you want style notes and more for people who change the world, please check out:

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Style Notes from me, your artspy

Hoong Yee

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Thanks so much! I really appreciate your help.


Word of mouth is the best way to share, don’t you agree?

<a href=”” title=”Kat IMG00308-20110503-1344.jpg by hoongyeeleekrakauer, on Flickr”><img src=”” width=”500″ height=”375″ alt=”Kat IMG00308-20110503-1344.jpg”></a>

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