I choose to stay here; PFP Documentary

Grantwriting Tips and Sample Proposals

Prepared by Fund for Folk Culture Staff (2002)

The Fund for Folk Culture received many requests for information regarding grant proposals: how to put together a proposal, how to compose a project budget, what to include as supplementary materials in application packets, etc. They developed these materials to provide some answers to these questions, as well as two successful sample applications. (We include it here with their permission.) One of these applications is for a large regional project and uses a standard form from a particular funding program, while the other is for a small local project and uses a narrative proposal format. One application was prepared by an organization with paid, professional staff. The other was prepared by a small, community-based organization with volunteer staff. But both are excellent examples of well-thought-out projects and each one contains concise information which gives the FFC a clear picture of the organization's goals and the project's activities and objectives. Both also exemplify the kinds of folk cultural activities the FFC supports. We hope you will find these examples helpful as you prepare proposals for FFC programs or other foundations and public funding organizations.

Basics. While all funding organizations have their own specific guidelines or areas that they fund, just remember that most funding organizations will look for answers to three basic questions (and variations thereof) when they review a proposal.

1. What is the nature of the project? Does it fit within our guidelines? Is it a sensible, high-quality project?

2. Does the applicant have the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out the project successfully? Does the organization have what it takes to run the project? Do they have the appropriate people involved? Does the budget make sense?

3. What need does the project serve and what impact will it have? What is the purpose of the project, who will it serve, and what will result from it?

Letter of Inquiry and Cover Letter
. Several FFC programs request a letter of inquiry before a full proposal is invited. Please refer to the specific program's call for proposals for information on the content of inquiry letters. Generally, a letter of inquiry should include basic information regarding your organization, including its non-profit status, and a brief overview describing the project's activities, goals and outcomes, along with the proposed dates of the project, the amount of funding you would like to request and the probable uses for that funding. The name of your contact person is also important to include in the inquiry letter. Usually, letters of inquiry are two to three pages in length.

Once a full proposal has been invited, the proposal cover letter should point out any changes which may have been made in the proposed project since the initial query. If there is no application form for the funding program to which you are applying, be sure that the information below is included in your cover letter (in the masthead, the body of the letter, a postscript, etc.)

Organization Information. Nearly all funding applications, whether they require a narrative description or are composed of short answer questions, ask for your organization name, address, telephone and fax number, name and title of the director or contact person, name and title of the project director and e-mail and website contact addresses. Often an alternate address and telephone number is also requested. In addition, the title of the project, the amount of funding requested and the dates of the project are usually included on the first page of any application. Following is an example of this part of an application. All of the information is fictitious.

Organization Name: Local Hawaiian Cultural Project
Address: 1234 Palm Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90123
Telephone: (312) 751-1326 Fax: (312) 751-1327
Name and Title of Organization Head: Name, Executive Director
E-mail: hula@online.com Website: http://www.hawaii.org
Alternate Address: P.O. Box 2345, Los Angeles, CA 90234-2345
Alternate Telephone: None
Project Title: Kumu Hula Workshops
Proposed Start Date: January 1, 1999 Proposed End Date: December 31, 1999
Grant Request Amount: $5,000 Organization Total Budget, FY (fiscal year) 1998: $100,000

Project Description

Most funding applications will ask for two project descriptions: first, a brief (usually 50-100 words) summary statement, and, secondly, a longer project narrative that details the following:

- background and nature of the project
- a description and brief history of the art form or cultural activity which is the focus of the project
- the exact activities involved in the project
- the timeline for the project
- the names and backgrounds of project personnel and what their roles will be
- the target audience for or participants in the project
- the intended outcomes and longer-range goals of the project
- the method of evaluation which will be used to gauge the project's success.

If your proposal clearly addresses each of these areas, it will stand a better chance of being positively considered. Also, an important rule of thumb to remember is that project narratives need not be long (generally, three to five pages). Some funding agencies, in fact, limit the length of the narrative in their applications. The more concise you can be in your writing, the better off you will be.

Samples. Below are the project narratives for two sample applications. The first sample was written on an application form that asked specific questions; the second was a narrative response to a more general request for project information.

Sample #1

Please summarize the proposed project as concisely as possible, in 125 words or fewer: (Name or Organization) seeks $15,000 to support an intensive audience development initiative following its successful Community Residency Program, a statewide program of week-long residencies by esteemed Texas traditional musicians in underserved communities. [The] Community Residency program targets interested rural communities that have little or no experience with cultural programming, then works with local committees to design residencies that: 1) seek the best fit between artist and community; 2) provide the greatest opportunity for ongoing involvement in folk arts and cultural programming; and 3) create opportunities for collaboration and exchange for local artists. The audience development initiative will help promote [the organization's] continued work with the sites, most particularly in the areas of Folk Arts in Education (FAIE) and Touring.

What will be the results of the project? The project will result in increased arts presenting and programming competency, appreciation of traditional music, and appreciation and knowledge of the musical heritage of the community and region. The artists involved in the Community Residency Program are some of the best known and most respected traditional musicians in the state of Texas. They are generally acknowledged as tradition bearers who are also articulate about the importance of the musical traditions they represent, and so the communities are interested in working with them. They serve as important conduits for introducing communities to presenting and programming. Working quickly on the heels of successful residencies, [the organization's] FAIE and Touring staff will work with each community to reinforce newly developed presenting skills. Through informational brochures, telephone follow-up and on-site consultancies, staff will inform communities of [the organization's] education and touring program opportunities as well as the technical, promotional, and fundraising assistance the organization provides as a part of these opportunities. It is our past experience that successful education and tour programs develop into ongoing relationships between [the organization] and host communities, and [the organization] anticipates working with at least 10 of the Community Residency communities through 1999 and 2000.

Provide a brief descriptive list of the folk artists and tradition bearers who will participate in the project: If artists and tradition bearers are not yet selected, how will they be identified? The Community Residency artists include:
*legendary fiddler and National Heritage Fellow Johnny Gimble;
*long-time blues duo Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon;
*Western Swing fiddler Alvin Crow;
*Conjunto accordion master Santiago Jimenez, Jr.;
*Cowboy singers Pipp and Guy Gillette;
*Conjunto accordionist Mingo Saldivar; and
*Texas competition-style fiddler Valerie Ryals Bates.
[The organization] has selected artists it has worked with in the past who have proven articulate about their own particular musical traditions as well as flexible in the face of new situations. Each also makes his or her living as a musician, so they can be available for a week at a time. Artists who may ultimately participate in programs resulting from the audience development initiative will include these, [the organization's] many stellar touring artists, and tradition bearers associated with [the organization's] education program.

Provide a brief descriptive list of the folk cultural specialists, including community scholars, involved as project staff or advisors. Also list key administrators, and technical staff or advisors: [The organization provided a list of project staff, contracted scholars and others and briefly noted their roles and primary tasks]

Provide a project timeline. Describe the key stages of the project, including planning, fieldwork and implementation. Give expected dates for beginning and completing each stage: September through December 1998: 1998-99 Community Residency begins; two residencies scheduled during this period. Meet with scheduled communities. January 1999 - May 1999: 10 residencies scheduled. Begin intensive follow-up program with 20 communities from the 1998 program focusing on [the organization's] FAIE and touring programs, to encourage future folk arts collaborations. Additionally, contact each 98-99 local committee shortly after residencies finish for continued programming. June 1999 - December 1999: Continue audience development initiative with all 32 residencies: mail and telephone, work with interested communities on education and touring applications to TCA, negotiate and design future programs. Begin third year of residency program. Schedule and complete follow-up work with residencies scheduled before December 31, 1999.

Whose cultural traditions are being presented, interpreted, passed on, or preserved by the project? How will that community or those communities be served? How have community members been involved in planning this project? How will community members be kept involved and informed? Initially, the cultural traditions of the town involved in the Community Residency are presented by the musicians [the organization] works with a community committee to match up appropriate artists. For example, in 1998 Santiago Jimenez, Jr. worked in communities with predominantly Mexican American populations; Johnny Gimble, Alvin Crow, and Valerie Ryals Bates worked with communities whose majority populations were Anglo American, and Carol Fran and Clarence Hollimon worked in towns in East Texas with large African American populations. The community's own music is involved, so local musicians come out for jam sessions and lessons, and are then identified as resources. One of the most important aspects of the residencies is the community involvement. Each community is represented by a committee that may include representatives of the chamber of commerce, school district, local churches, local arts organizations, and other local cultural organizations. [The organization] works intensively with each committee on arts programming and presenting. The committees' work is vital - each decides on the schedule for its own community. Additionally, the committee's work, the publicity generated, and the sites donated for workshops, etc., constitute the in-kind match from each community; no cash is required. This in-kind match is what makes most of the community residencies possible.

For the audience development initiative, the Touring Coordinator will continue working with the committees to inform them of the best and most appropriate opportunities available to them through Touring Traditions; the Folklife Specialist will identify regional artists to participate in school programs. Each community will work with artists who present the community's own traditions as well as the very best of the state's folk music.

Who are the targeted audiences for the project? How will they learn about the project? What efforts will you make to enhance their involvement, understanding and appreciation? The entire population of each town selected - usually between 2,500 and 6,500 - is the targeted audience for the audience development initiative. The schedule developed by the local committee for the Community Residency attempts to place the artist in as many varied venues as possible throughout the community during the week, including Rotary and Lions Clubs luncheons for presentations; nursing homes for mini-performances; schools for demonstrations; seniors centers for presentations; and other scheduled jam sessions and lessons to involve others in the community. All events are scheduled both during the day and in the evenings so that a larger percentage of the population will be able to attend. Programming at varied sites introduces a larger percentage of the population to [the organization's] folk artists and so begins developing a broad audience base.

The committee members will learn about the follow-up project through, first, information distributed by the Community Residency Coordinator. Following the residency, the Folklife Specialist working with the Folk Arts in Education program and the Touring Coordinator will individually contact the key person on the committee to determine who best to work with for subsequent programs. [The organization's] follow-up work will build on community involvement, understanding, and appreciation through scheduling folk arts programs in the schools as well as bringing touring programs to the Community Residency sites.

How will you assess the results of this project? How will you know you have reached your goals? [The organization] will be able to assess the results of the follow-up work by the numbers of communities that schedule programs after the Community Residency is finished. Each committee completes an evaluation after the residency, rating its own performance in the areas of scheduling and presenting the artist and describing the community's response to the program. In 1998, the evaluations were quite candid; [the organization] made several changes for the following year based on those suggestions or comments. Many suggested that [the organization] develop ways to continue working with the communities in the future, and this grant request is a response to that suggestion.

Describe your organization, including mission, founding date, major programs, and the size and nature of the various communities or audiences served. [Name or organization] is a nonprofit cultural arts organization dedicated to the public presentation and preservation of the folk arts and folk culture of the Lone Star State. Incorporated in 1984, [it] is the only organization in the state whose sole purpose is the development of public programs designed to encourage increased levels of appreciation and awareness of Texas folk art and folklife. In its inaugural year, [the organization] undertook the Texas Folk Art Survey. The resulting exhibition, “Handmade and Heartfelt: Contemporary Folk Art in Texas,” toured the state through 1985-86. Subsequent [the organization’s] activities include scores of exhibitions, festivals, performing arts events, symposia, media, and educational projects. Growing out of all these are several ongoing statewide […] programs including the multicultural statewide Touring Traditions program, the Apprenticeships and the Folk Arts in Education programs, and the annual Texas Folk Masters concert series. In 1997, [the organization] implemented its Community Residencies program in collaboration with the Texas Commission on the Arts, serving 20 small Texas towns in Spring 1998.

Sample #2

Project description and total amount being requested:
On October 10, 1999, [the association] has been invited to join the prestigious Halau o Kekuhi in a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California to commemorate the opening of the World Festival of Sacred Music. In order to prepare for this major undertaking, the halau (hula schools) will be hosting three dance workshops in Southern three-day workshop. Since our letter of inquiry was sent to the Fund for Folk Culture, we have been informed by the Master Kumu Hula of Halau o Kekuhi that one workshop is not enough time to learn all of the hula (dance) numbers that will be performed on the evening of October 10. Hence, three workshops have now been confirmed, each lasting two full days for a total of six intense days of instruction and rehearsals.

The opening ceremonies of the Festival is being coordinated by [a professor from a local university's] World Arts and Cultures Department and her staff. Along with the master hula instructor, both have asked that [the association] select from its pool of haumana (students), 120 dancers. These 120 dancers will be taught the performance numbers in the scheduled workshops.

The first workshop is scheduled for May 22 and 23, 1999. Preparations are already in place to host the master hula instructor and two of her alaka'i (assistants) that weekend. Two more workshops will follow in August and September (tentative dates, could possibly occur in June and July). To meet the needs for hosting the workshops, [the association] is hereby requesting support from the Fund for Folk Culture in the amount of $5,000. The total cost for the project is $12,075 of which $7,075 is in-kind. Some of the components of the budget requirements include round trip airfare from Hawaii to California, hotel accommodations, ground transportation, per diem, instruction fees, etc.

The participation of [the association] in the opening ceremonies of the World Festival of Sacred Music is a collaborative effort and [the association] feels honored to have been asked to perform. It will be a single concert event presenting profound examples of our living heritage of sacred music. It will be a nonsectarian gathering that will also include the participation of other distinguished artists and leaders from all over the continent. It is also the occasion in which His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a special choir of 108 Tibetan monks will make their musical offering for peace and universal understanding. It is expected that this event will garner major popular interest and broad media attention. Broadcast (radio, television and Internet) opportunities will ensure that people throughout the region, continent and world, can participate and benefit from the messages of this event. [The association] is honored to be invited to perform.

Organizational background: On November 29, 1997, representatives from twelve halau hula (dance schools) met for the first time in an open forum to discuss the challenges that kumu hula (dance teachers) face in teaching, performing and perpetuating hula in Southern California. The discussion was closed to the general public which allowed the kumu hula a time and space to exchange fruitful discussions among themselves.

The gathering of kumu hula was scheduled during the 6th annual Ho'oulu Lahui Cultural Faire sponsored by the Hawaiian Community Center Association. Support for the gathering was provided by a grant from the Fund for Folk Culture's Conferences and Gatherings Program, underwritten by the Pew Charitable Trust.

Since that first meeting, the kumu hula have organized themselves and formed an association still in the process of seeking nonprofit status from the State of California and the Internal Revenue Service. Little over a year old, the association meets at regular quarterly meetings to address concerns they face teaching the hula outside of Hawaii and have become a support base for one another.

[The association] has identified its mission statement to be the following:
E ho'opaa I ka mole o ka hula
To maintain the foundation of the hula
E ho'omau a lokahi I ka hula
To perpetuate the hula in unity
E ho'oulu I ka 'oihana o ka hula
To develop professionalism in the hula
I mohala ka 'ikena o ka hula
So that knowledge of the hula will flourish.

Today there are twenty-one halau hula in the association. Each is required to pay annual membership dues that are used to offset costs for mailings, facilitator travel expenses (when applicable) and other administrative obligations. Operating funds for the association are raised at annual community cultural events and association-sponsored performances. A presiding Board has been identified and is working diligently for nonprofit recognition.

Key participants:
[Background information and project duties of all key participants followed, along with the name of the association's fiscal receiver (a non-profit organization serving as an umbrella for a group which has not yet secured IRS approval for 501 (c) (3) tax status).]

Project timeline:
The first of three project workshops is scheduled for May 22-23, 1999. [The master hula instructor] and her alaka'i are scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on Friday, May 21. They will be housed at the Carson Hilton located in the city of Carson, California. On Saturday, May 22, the workshop will be held at the Carson Community Center located at I Civic Plaza in the City of Carson and is scheduled to begin promptly at 8:00 a.m. The hotel and the center share a common parking area and are therefore in close proximity to one another.

The participants (120 performers) will be divided into three groups of (40) and will begin their first day of intense hula instructions. The day will end at 4:00 p.m. with scheduled rest periods and lunch in between the eight hours of workshop time. On Monday, May 24, [the master hula instructor] and her alaka'i will leave Los Angeles and return to Hawaii. A second workshop is scheduled for August 21-22 and September 18-19. For each of the workshops, [the master hula instructor] and her alaka'i will arrive the Friday before and leave the Monday after.

In between the scheduled workshops, the halau will rehearse as a group until the return of the instructors. The haumana will be taught by their kumu hula at each of the rehearsals where they will practice the dances, songs and music that they have learned in the workshops. They will also work on their costumes, accessories and the designing of their floral leis After the September date, there will be one final dress rehearsal at the Hollywood Bowl on the morning of the opening celebration. If the Bowl is not available, then a space at UCLA will be provided by the World Arts and Culture Department.

All costs related to the actual performance including costumes, accessories and flowers for the leis, will be absorbed by the association and its participating haumana. This request for funding through the Fund for Folk Culture covers the actual costs related to the workshops.

Project evaluation:
Our objectives for the project are: a) to meet the expected goals established by the World Arts and Cultures Department at [local university] and the performance concept of [the master hula instructor], b) to work cohesively as participants in magnifying a true image of the culture that is truly Hawaiian in every aspect and c) to project that image of the Hawaiian people that is positive throughout the continent and the rest of the world at the opening ceremonies of the World Festival of Sacred Music.
We intend to meet our objective in the following manner: Under the direction [the master instructor] and her assistants, local halau will come together with a total of 120 dancers to endure six days of intense instruction in the hula, music and language (oral chants). On-going rehearsals will be conducted by individual kumu hula in each of the halau. Success will be determined by the Master Kumu Hula to see if the haumana from Southern California can perform at her level of expectancy as they will be meshed into a cast of thirty other professional, culturally authentic haumana, from Hawaii who will have already mastered the performance numbers.

A total of 150 dancers are expected to perform on October 10, 1999 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. At each of the three dance workshops scheduled to take place, haumana will be taught rigorous dance motions, music and the language of oral chants. Those haumana who are not able to meet the standards of performance determined by [the master instructor], will be replaced by other dancers. Success of the project will be in seeing all 120 dancers from Southern California joined on the stage at the Hollywood Bowl by the thirty dancers from Hawaii. Their efforts will have paid off and the world will get a sense of the beauty that is Hawaii.

Evidence of community support:

The scheduled workshops will not be offered to the general public as it is only a performance of participants belonging to [the association] in Southern California. The community at large will not have access to the workshops. A letter of commitment from the [non-profit organization] who supports the project as an outside agency and as a fiscal receiver is enclosed with this application. (Note: Letters of support can be very important. If you are collaborating with an organization or featuring the work of a particular artist, it is good to have letters from them indicating their support and willingness to participate).

Itemized income and expense budget for the total project:
An itemized budget for the project is enclosed with this application along with a budget narrative.

Sources of in-kind support:
The entire amount of in-kind support will be raised by the (17) halau participating in the performance. The fiscal receiver's fees are being donated back to [he association] and the cash on hand will come from [the association's] bank account. This will meet more than half of the entire costs for the project. Monies to cover the first workshop have already been raised to meet the needs listed in the budget.

Proof of Federal Tax Exempt status:
As [the association] is still in the process of establishing nonprofit status, the [non-profit organization] has committed to being the fiscal receiver for funds received through this grants process, should the project be funded. A 15% service fee normally assessed for their services, has been donated back to the Association as noted in the enclosed budget. Attached is a copy of their letter of determination from the Internal Revenue Service.

Include resumes of all major project staff and artistic personnel in your application. A resume should clearly indicate the person's qualifications for the work they will be performing during the project. Resumes may be in either standard format or one to two descriptive paragraphs. The latter is often more helpful when describing the training, background and experience of traditional artists.

Project Budget and Financial Information
Generally, requests for project budget information will ask for both expenses and income. Expenses should be listed by categories, often spelled out in the application form itself. Salaries, materials, travel, perdiem fees (meals and lodging), office expenses, postage, space and equipment rentals, film, publicity expenses and fees for artists, speakers and project specialists are all expenses which you may reasonably expect to cover with most foundation and public grants. In general, entertainment and capital expenses are not eligible costs for most project grants. In addition to the project budget, other financial documentation usually required by a granting organization include the most recent annual budget of the applicant organization and an IRS letter of determination of 501 (c) (3) (non-profit) status for either the applicant or its fiscal receiver. In all cases, double check your budgets to make sure they add up correctly.

The following hypothetical project budget is from an organization with an annual organizational budget of $70,000: Note: It is important to specify which line items will be paid for by FFC funding, either through placing an asterisk by those items, using a parenthesis (as in the example below), or placing FFC-funded items in a separate column.

Sample Project Budget

Executive Director @ 5% $1,200
Project Ass't @ 25% $3,000
Fringe benefits 1,000
Tapes, film & processing 400
Publicity flyers 500
Educational brochures (FFC $300) 900
Office supplies, copying, postage 500
Staff @ 500 mi x .30 mi 150
Per diem (Project Director @ 10 days x $75) 750
Perdiem (4 Artists @ $75 x 3 days) 900
Artists’ Fees (4 x $300/day x 3 days) (FFC) 3,600
Project Coordinator 5,000
Rent and utilities @ 25% x 3 months 450
Printing and copying 1,200
Telephone @ 15% for 3 months 70
Promotion (Advertisement for public performance) 200
Performance space rental (1 night) 600
Sound and technical support (5 hrs.@ $76/hr.) (FFC) 380
TOTAL 20,800

Along with your project budget, most grant applications also ask for an annual budget for your organization. This budget should reflect the non-profit nature of your organization, with income and expenditures matching or a clear explanation of excess or loss. If you have a fiscal receiver, that organization must submit their annual budget.

Supplemental Materials: Successful grant applications supply pertinent supplementary materials as requested in the application guidelines. These may include photographs, videos or sound recordings of the artists and/or works you intend to present; publicity materials, such as flyers, brochures or paid advertisements; and newspaper articles or reviews of past projects your organization has presented. Make sure that labels identifying the work are attached. This is especially important for art forms that may not be familiar to many people (hula, for instance, or Brazilian capoeria, Armenian lace making, or Mexican papel picado). We are often surprised by how many applicants do not clearly identify the work samples (who the artists are, what is being presented in a tape or photograph, etc.).

It is worth paying attention to the supplemental materials you submit. If a funding agency does not know you or your work, they will form their first impressions from the work samples you submit. Sometimes, panelists or grant reviewers will reject proposals based on poorly-presented work samples. This is especially true if you are submitting an application for a media project. So, while it is not necessary to spend large sums of money on your materials, make sure that audio or visual materials are of decent quality and clearly labeled.

Application Checklist
Many application guidelines from the FFC’s programs include an application checklist which must accompany the proposal when you send it in. Below is a checklist similar to one which you might find in an application form or guidelines.
- Cover Letter
- Organization Contact Information
- Grant Amount Requested
- Summary Description of Application
- Project Narrative
- Resumes of Project Personnel
- Project Budget
- Organization’s Annual Budget
- Organization’s 501 (c) (3) letter from the IRS
- Supplementary Materials

PROOF-READ YOUR APPLICATION BEFORE MAILING IT! An application with typos and spelling errors makes a bad impression.