10 Tips to writing a Successful Grant

If you’re an artist or producer living in Canada, then you’ve probably heard that the federal government and various provincial government organizations offer financial support to Canadian artists for various projects. Perhaps you’ve been awarded funding in the past by organizations like FACTOR or the Canada Council for the Arts. Maybe you’ve applied in the past without luck. Maybe arts and culture funding is news to you altogether. Whatever your situation is, Indie Pool has put together ten tips on how to improve your chances of getting your projects funded!

1. Do Your Research

BeyondCanada’s most popular granting organizations like FACTOR, Canada Council for the Arts and SOCAN, there many more funding programs available through various provincial Music Industry Associations, private companies and more. Additionally, eligibility is also specific to various Canadian demographics depending on your personal heritage, ethnicity, the languages you speak, your financial situation, geographical location and the list goes on. Browse through organization, council and society websites to find out more! There’s something for everyone.

2. Stay Organized

70% of the job is getting all of your materials together in an orderly and timely fashion. Giving yourself enough time to gather all the materials you need from proof of citizenship to all necessary attachments, will make things a lot less stressful when deadlines roll around. Less time spent scrambling for materials means more time for writing a convincing and compelling story! Keep a calendar, don’t forget deadlines and make sure all of your work is completed in full.

3. Ask Questions

If you’re ever stuck on a question or curious about guidelines, call a submissions rep at your respective arts council, M.I.A., organization or society. Chances are that unless it’s the day before a deadline or during a lunch break, you’ll likely get a hold of someone who can answer your questions in full or at least point you in the right direction. All contact info can usually be found on the same site that you downloaded your application from.

4. Be Truthful and Engaging

You’ve poured your heart into writing songs, lyrics and riffs. Write your grants with the same TLC and remember who your audience is. Most grant and loan applications are reviewed by juries made up of industry professionals, musicians, artistic directors, business owners, government officials and many more. These people want to make an investment in projects that will help our music industry thrive. Tell them a truthful story and make sure you cover all of their expectations. Be engaging, be creative and make sure to write in a clear and concise fashion!

5. Referrals

A letter of support is never mandatory but they sure do help. Flip through that rolodex and call in a favor. Sometimes all it takes to push you into approval is a professional note from an industry professional or successful musician, vouching for your character and why you deserve to receive funding. Make sure the letter is an original copy, on official letterhead, signed and dated by the writer. One of these letters can certainly go a long way.

6. Keep Applying

Remember that every time you apply, your application gets in front of an entirely new jury – new eyes and ears every time you submit your application. Most of these organizations and societies aim to get rid of as much of their budget as possible in order to secure the same budget for the following year. They want to give you the money but they have to make sure your project is worth investing in. Prove to them your determination, commitment and professionalism and they’ll give you the green light.

7. Do what you set out to do

You’ve been awarded funding and you’ve got a few thousand bucks for that new album or a chunk of change to help get you out to that big showcase. Spend the money you’ve been given on what you told the council you would spend it on. We’ve heard a few horror stories about misuse of funding and how artists have eventually had to pay back their grant in full or worse. Don’t get caught off guard. Before you start spending, make sure you understand what your eligible expenses are and if you have any questions, call your respective organization, council or society. Remember that most grants only cover a percentage of overall expenses up to a certain amount. Be ready to contribute your percentage of the costs and keep all of those receipts!

8. Keep a Copy!

Most grants and loans can be applied for through an online portal that you’ll be able to access with your own username and password. Sometimes councils will request a physical submission to be sent in the mail. In either case, it’s a good idea to print off a physical copy for your own records. Mail gets lost, pages go missing and sections get overlooked. We’re only human. Make sure you have a back up; at the end of the day this will only help with your completion process.

9. Careful Completions

Give your completion process just as much attention and care as your application. If you’ve been funded, chances are the organization, council or society will ask you to submit some sort of a follow up report. This could be as simple as submitting a demo or lyrics or as dense as submitting receipts, variances and written reports for an international tour. Make sure everything is complete and submitted on time!

10. Give credit where it’s deserved

When an organization, council or society funds your sound recording project, they will likely require that you recognize their support somewhere on your album. This recognition is usually more than just a shout out in your liner notes and can take the form of a graphic logo and/or a mandatory statement. Make sure you read the guidelines of your application before submitting your artwork to your artist rep!

Keep an eye out for funding opportunities! For more information visit the websites of FACTOR, Canada Council for the Arts, SOCAN, your provincial Music Industry Association and municipal arts councils.

Try your hand in applying and cross your fingers! Good luck!