5 Ways to Rock a Grant Application

Editor’s Note: “The Design Activist’s Handbook,” by Noah Scalin and Michelle Taute, is a designer’s guide for how to change the world with socially conscious design. In addition to stories of designers doing just that, this book offers tools and worksheets to help you put your own ideas into action. See an excerpt below for grant writing tips to assist you when seeking funding for design-driven ideas. 

Lifelong activist Noah Scalin talks about ethics, visual pollution and affecting positive change with your work in this Virtual Book Signing for his NEW book. Join us at 2 pm EST Tuesday, Sept. 4. Register now!Design Activist's Handbook

Every grant has different requirements and no doubt many applicants meet them, but we were curious about what sways the decision makers between one application and another. Armin Vit, principal of UnderConsideration LLC, and one of the judges for the 2010 Sappi Ideas That Matter grants provided some tips and insight from the other side of the grant table:

  1. Let your excitement shine through. Don’t check your enthusiasm at the door. “Be passionate about what you are proposing,” Vit says. “We could tell when someone had their heart behind it, and it pays off.”
  2. Be specific about how you’ll spend the money. Show the judges you’ve done your homework when it comes to how much money you really need. Saying printing costs will be about $10,000 isn’t as impressive as a printer quote with the exact price tag.
  3. Tell a compelling story. Take a look at your application materials as a whole. Do they tell a good story about why your project is important and what impact it will have? Are they visually appealing? “It’s very difficult to get people to imagine an end result and many applicants just couldn’t get us there,” Vit says. He says grant writing is an art form and practice makes perfect.
  4. Choose your cause carefully. Judges are human and certain causes simply pull their heartstrings more than others. Take a look at all your project ideas and choose the one you believe will have the most impact when you apply for funding. “It’s hard to NOT give money to an organization fighting poverty or women abuse,” Vit says. “It’s very easy to let your emotions and social priorities dictate who you select.”
  5. Cut out the fluff. There’s limited grant funding to go around, so judges want to make sure every dollar counts. Go through your application and make sure you’re asking for the essentials. Things like stationery, for instance, might not seem as important as the actual project you want to produce and deliver to an audience.
Hear more from co-author Noah Scalin in this free virtual book signing where he’ll talk about how you can apply theories in the “Design Activist’s Handbook” to your life as you work towards creating a design career that aligns with your values and beliefs. Sign up now! 

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