You Got This: Thoughts From A Grant Program Officer Before Deadlines
Things are heating up over here now that we’re about a month to deadline. I thought it may be helpful to address some things that usually come up this time of year. I won’t speak for my fellow grant officers (I’d love to have them weigh in!), but I have a feeling some of these apply to many funding programs.
You will not be denied funding for marking an X next to your name on the seminar sign in sheet instead of signing your initials.
I’m not sure if it’s back-to-school trauma or what, but starting around now there seems to be a sense that every step you make from now until January goes on your permanent record, and could be taken into consideration for whether or not you get funded. The panel doesn’t see the seminar sign in sheets, so they don’t know how you made your mark on them. If there’s something next to your name, we see that you came. (PS – it becomes pretty clear closer to deadline who didn’t come to a seminar.)
The panel sees your proposal: your narrative, budget, work sample and supplemental materials. Read the guidelines and instructions and try to focus your energies there.
Get creative with your project, not your proof of residency
This is similar to the above: your chances of getting funded are based on the quality of your proposal materials. Whether they’re tied in a super hip twine bow vs. binder clipped together is irrelevant. Just like with the seminar sign-in sheets, the panel doesn’t see the super hip twine bow or the slick binder, they care about the meat of the proposal. Send in a proof of residency that is on the list in the guidelines. Get creative with your work and focus on keeping the proposal clear and organized.
This is a proposal, not a contract.
If you’re not accustomed to asking for support on an annual cycle, it can be tricky to get into the mindset of having to plan a project you don’t know you can afford to do yet. It’s a learned skill, but a necessary one if you’re planning on working grant seeking into your process. Remember that it’s a proposal, and the panel understands that. Talk about what the project would look like should it receive this funding. If you receive funding, you will have the opportunity to revise your project description and your budget based on the amount you receive.
We learn a lot from you.
This may be helpful to remember if you’re having a crisis of confidence or fear of having your work judged: administering this program is a huge learning experience every year, and not just for staff, but also for the borough’s cultural policy makers, and fellow artists and administrators. Our applicant pool shows us cultural trends that are occurring across the borough. We glean a lot about funding priorities and application needs and process from your questions and your feedback. We let our elected officials know each year how much money was asked for in their districts vs. how much we’re able to distribute, and funding amounts are determined by panels of your peers. Your proposals are entering a city-wide conversation about the projects occurring, who is making them, where they are being made and what needs to be supported.
Acknowledgement: you got this.
We try to help you understand that even if you don’t get funded your first time out, creating this proposal can be a great professional development experience. I want to acknowledge all of the grant seekers and writers, especially the first-timers, who have come out to ask questions and seek support for their work. Learning a new skill is a whole lot of awesome, but it can be humbling and feel really vulnerable at the same time. Throughout this process, give yourself credit for branching out and asking for support. Trust yourself and your work. Try to keep in mind that you are passionate about your work and that you deserve support for it. If all else fails, shouting SERENITY NOW!!! and having a solo dance party can be surprisingly effective. (I’m currently on a Twin Peaks re-watch/peanut M&Ms kick. Whatever works.) Based on recent history, you have around a 40% chance of getting funding from our program. Give it a shot. You got this.
Morgan Lindsey Tachco is a creative administrator, actor and writer. She joined BAC in 2008 and filled several roles in the Grants and Arts in Education Departments prior to becoming the Grants Program Manager in 2013. Morgan holds a B.A. from Goddard College in Individualized Studies, with a concentration in Performance and Arts Administration. You can find her current theatrical commentary on nytheaternow.com. about.me/morganlindseytachco