Step six is the actual writing of your grant. Many grants will ask the following:
- Your organization’s mission
- The details of your proposed project
- Why your project is needed
- Your expectations of the project
- How the project’s success will be measured
- How the project will be promoted and advertised
- How the funds will be used, what your budget will be
By this step, most of this information has already been identified. However, to articulately present it, practice concise and consistent writing. Many grant applications allow only so many characters or words for each section; however, there is no need to use the maximum number of words. If it can be said in fifty words, then say it in fifty. More words do not equal more importance. There is no need to give the grant writer and the reader unnecessary work. Don’t lose your audience.
Consistency is rule number two. This applies to the name of the project, the titles of staff involved, and so on. For example, a project titled “Battle Bots in the Library” is different than “Library Robotics Club.” Comparatively, “Teen Librarian” is different than “Youth Services Specialist.” Decide on what titles will be used, and stick with them. A similar approach applies to acronyms. The first time an organization is mentioned, spell out its full title, followed by its acronym in parentheses. Afterwards, use only the acronym. Flipping back and forth from full title to acronym throughout the application will appear confusing and unprofessional.
Most importantly, recruit several peer editors. Typos are everywhere, and it can take several pairs of eyes to catch them. Coworkers from the same or different departments, a supervisor, and state library consultants all make great editors. Having a diversity of editors may also give the grant writer helpful feedback. A colleague in the same department may already know the details of a project and therefore subconsciously gloss over sections of the application. A fresh pair of eyes can help pinpoint the application’s problems and inconsistencies. Remember to be gracious with all peer editors. Reading a grant can be as mind numbing as writing one. Let them know how much their help means. In other words, tell them thank you.
There are countless grants out there, but here are a few to get you started:
Federal and State:
- State and Regional Arts Commissions
- State and Regional Humanities Councils
- State Library Commission
- National Education Association (NEA)
Associations & Foundations:
- American Library Association (ALA)
- Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)
- Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
For more grant opportunities, visit YALSA’s wiki. Last but not least, don’t let the grant kill your spirit. The final results make all the work worth it. Keep organized copies of all paperwork. For a first time grant, consider smaller grants, which are sometimes called “minigrants” or “contests.” If one application is denied, do not give up. Use that idea for another grant. If it is a great idea, fight for it and the funding will come. Remember, it never hurts to ask.
Jaclyn Lewis Anderson is the youth services director at the Madison County Library System.