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Want to be more successful when seeking grants? Tell a clear and compelling financial story.


A few months ago I had the pleasure of serving as a grant reviewer for a major national funder in the arts. Reading dozens of proposals from small, medium-sized and large arts organizations across the country helped me identify three key areas in which arts organizations as a whole could benefit from added strength:

1. Be abundantly clear about what you intend to do, for whom, and why it matters.

2. Form meaningful and effective partnerships with other, local organizations.

(both of which I wrote about in earlier posts) and

3. Use numbers as an additional – and critically important – way to tell your story!

If you’re submitting a grant application you are, quite simply, asking someone for money. When considering your request, funders want to understand how you’re using the money you have already.

It’s all too common to read a grant application that contains beautiful, persuasive prose – “Lives will be changed if you’ll only fund our project!” – yet becomes muddled and confusing when presenting financial information.

To be more competitive when seeking grants, think of your project budget and other financial information as a narrative – a story, told not with words but with numbers. What’s the story you want to tell? How can you make that story as clear and compelling as possible?

Give as much time and attention to your “financial narrative” as you do to your “project narrative,” and you’ll greatly increase your chances of success when applying for grants.


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