Katerina and Geoff talk the application that won and share a grant proposal sample.
Recently we held our second webinar in our ongoing short courses series, featuring Alison Croggon on grant writing. We learned lots, most notably that ‘bullshitty’ is a word and should be used when talking about grant and fellowship budgets. We also heard from our viewers - a fantastic community of writers and creatives who were generous in their time and support in one another. Marisa Wikramanyake, one of our participants, suggested we cover what a successful grant looks like and so here we are, getting meta and sharing a grant proposal sample. This is the application which awarded us funding from the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund that allowed up to create our short courses.
In the interest of transparency, we’d like to say first up this contains only certain parts of our grant application. The application came in at 1,053 words so we don’t have room to share it all here. Plus, we have a few surprises up our sleeves for our remaining courses that we want to share with you when the time is right.
Grant Proposal Sample #1: Who will benefit from the project? (150w)
Writers Bloc wants to create a series of videos that will benefit writers of all experience levels, but particularly emerging writers, by connecting them free of charge to advice from Australian industry professionals. This video series will have a broad reach; the content will be accessible globally but we are particularly excited to reach Australian audiences (both central and remote) as this is where the majority of our readership lies. The short courses series will be a valuable resource, connecting established writers with writers who cannot access development opportunities, either due to remote locations or because of a lack of financial access to writers’ centres and festivals. The short courses series will be an openly accessible project; it will be delivered free of charge to the public.
150 words is not a lot! Each part of the grant for the Copyright Agency was concise, so it was a considerable amount of work whittling our answers down (account for a few days of trimming in your timeline if the grant you are applying for is similar). I was definitely thankful we were working as a team since we could go back and forth regarding editing and phrasing.
Here, we managed to say that the project will benefit ‘everyone’ (which is good) but we honed in on a particular group of people we wanted to help: emerging writers living in regional or remote Australia and/or do not have access to growth opportunities due to financial constraints. I think it is good to be as concise as possible here. The better you know who will benefit from your project, the smarter you can be in reaching out to them.
You mean besides us? Writers obviously. We always pay our writers but also know that courses like this are often inaccessible, so that puts us in a tricky position. Just how can we provide excellent resources for free but also pay writers? Like Katerina said, it took quite a while to shave out all the extraneous words from our application and do what Alison suggests, and be concise.*
*Extraneous details would definitely be cut in a real application.
Sample #2: Project Description (200w)
Writers Bloc as an organisation is spread throughout Australia: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory. We wanted to create a project that expressed this diversity. Rather than running workshops throughout Australia, we decided on a low cost initiative that uses an online medium to reach writers throughout Australia.
Using Everwebinar, Writers Bloc will develop and host a series of videos aimed at educating new and emerging writers. We will cover topics such as freelancing, grant writing and social media. The videos will be broadcast live online, but will also be available to watch again after the event. Viewers will have the ability to ask questions of a moderator, even though the event has already happened. This series will showcase industry talent, placing Australian writers and creatives in the global marketplace.
The videos will be free of charge and openly accessible. It is important to us to pay our speakers according to industry standards so we have decided upon the ASA fee of $438 per presenter, so they are earning a rate of $219 per hour.
I think what really works here is that we used the project description not only as a space to say what we want to do, but to sing Writers Bloc’s praises. Remember, you’ve got to sell yourself! Geographically, we are diverse (as is the literary industry in Australia) and so we wanted to create a resource that everyone could have access to, despite their location.
It’s also worth noting the budget here. Before submitting this application, I spoke to the Copyright Agency over the phone. Originally, we had written into the grant to compensate for my time as I was not yet a paid part of the team. However, after talking to the Copyright Agency, I learnt that their focus was to support the artists and not members of an organisation. It was an expectation that labour would be donated in kind. We were able to change our costs accordingly so we didn’t rule ourselves out!
Katerina is being modest. Her effort writing this grant and setting up this awesome project has been priceless. Perhaps that’s literally why we couldn’t put a price on it. Alison mentioned it in her course and I wholeheartedly agree, while project funding is wonderful, finding payment for the effort of editors and the people inside the organisation is tough.
Sample #3: What are the expected outcomes of your project and how will you know if they have been achieved? (150w)
For our expected outcomes, we are focusing on delivering an increased skill base for creatives in Australia. Within this, we are wanting to create an educational series that is accessible to remote and regional Australia as well as creating publicity for our speakers.
Our expected outcomes will be an online audience of 2,000 people. We believe this is achievable as our site reaches an audience of over 5,000 different users a month. We also expect our message board to reflect audience participation and believe at least 200 users will continue the conversation on the message board.
The demographic we are aiming to reach are young and emerging Australian creatives. We will reach out to our demographic through social media, our website and by spreading word throughout our organisational networks.
We expect that as an outcome of this project, a significant number of Australian creatives will be more skilled and have more resources available to them in areas such as grant writing and financing. We will know if our expected outcomes will be achieved through social media and webinar analytics as well as through audience feedback.
It sure is concise! I remember going through application multiple times. We’d asked then-editor Liam Pieper, our friends and family as well as each other to read over it and refine it what we wanted to say. We use Google Docs to ask questions of each other in order to find, what exactly are we trying to say. We got there and I think this is by far the most impressive grant application we’ve ever made.
The biggest takeaway from this experience, for me, is that a good grant application takes time and support. We’re lucky that Writers Bloc has a big team of supportive friends behind us that could give us feedback. And on a personal note, I was lucky to have Geoff to talk through ideas and how best to articulate them. I think the most heartening thing about grants, whether they are for an organisation or an individual, is that they bring communities together.
I’ve often shied away from writing grants for Writers Bloc. I felt grant writing was a bit chicken and egg when we were starting out. In that, we hadn’t proved that we could do anything yet so wouldn’t be considered as viable. So we self-funded to get us off the ground. I’ve been very fortunate in that I could pay our editors and writers, build our website and work on Writers Bloc around my day job as a teacher.
But this wasn’t sustainable, or probably even true so my partner urged me to find a way to support what we do long term. I reckon I could write 10 columns about the ideas and ways we’ve tried to become sustainable. We’re getting there and the generous support of the Copyright Agency Limited has been instrumental in helping us test a new idea and open up more opportunities for emerging writers.
Geoff Orton is a teacher, founder of Writers Bloc and former Co-ordinator of the Younger Young Writers’ program at the National Young Writers’ Festival. He’s also a tragic Boston Celtics fan.
Katerina Bryant is a writer based in South Australia. She is the writing development manager at Writers Bloc.
Like what we do? Become a Patron! For as little as $1 a month, you could make us this happy:
Katerina Bryant is a writer based in Adelaide and Writers Bloc's Writing Development Manager. Her work has appeared in the Griffith Review, Kill Your Darlings and The Lifted Brow, amongst others. She tweets at @katerina_bry.