Grant writing 101


1. Research

Research funders that share the same vision
Small vs. Large funders

Small: community grants fund smaller projects – these dudes love small projects.

Large: Federal grants fund larger projects/operations – these dudes love showing how awesome big organizations can effect change on national level.

Canada Council - How we make funding decisions
Funding principles > decision making process > commitments
Try and see if your project vision aligns with the Canada Council’s principles and long term commitments


  • Vancouver Foundation - Neighbourhood Small Grants - community projects in your hood, up to $500.

  • Access Copyright Foundation - for publishers to promote publishing through events grants, professional development to support writing community.

    • Event Grant - Organizations and artists groups may apply for up to 50% of eligible project expenses to a maximum of $7,500.

    • Research Grant - Applicants may apply for 85% of eligible project expenses to a maximum of $7,500.

  • Cultural Spaces Fund - for cultural infrastructure to support improvement, renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities. The maximum contribution payable for an individual construction or renovation project is $15,000,000 or 50% of total eligible project costs, whichever is less.

  • VS Arts Grants - $5,000 for a musician in Canada who is Indigenous, Black 
    or a person of colour, between the ages of 18–28, to create their debut EP recording.

  • Creative Spark Grant - supports emerging artists (of any age) to engage young people in artsbased projects. The grants offer 100% funding for small projects, up to $2,000.

  • Canada Council - Professional Development for Artists - Project grants to support career advancement activities for artists and artistic groups. Grant amount is up to $10 000.

  • Canada Council - Research and Creation - Project grants to support creative research, development and the creation of new works by artists, artistic groups or organizations. Grant amount is up to $25,000.

  • Canada Council - Concept to Realization - Project or composite grants to support activities that will result in completed works that are shown to the public. Project requests $60,000, exceptionally up to $100,000.

  • FACTOR - The Artist Development Program offers a $2,000 subsidy toward one year of artist development activities including sound recording, touring & showcasing, video production, marketing and promotion.

2. Get to know the grant

Found an awesome granting program??

Read their guidelines. Don't be afraid to ask (a million) questions to Grant Coordinator/Program Officer*

It’s THEIR job to help you. They get paid big bucks to give away big bucks. They would rather answer a million questions beforehand than see you hand in an incomplete/crappy grant application and reject off the bat.

Make friends. Good way to start to build a relationship with the funder. 

*these dudes were probably in your shoes 

3. LPT: Learn the grant assessment process

Is it assessed by a jury/committee*? If so, seek out previous jury members and ask them for advice, these dudes can probably will give very general advice or help you look over your grant.

Is it assessed by the organization or volunteer committee ? If so, maybe they can look over your grant before hand, maybeeeee but doesn’t hurt to ask.

*just like grant program officer, these committee is usually made up of like-minded people in same sector or community members, previous artists/arts administrators. AND the list of jury/committee is usually posted online. 

Example: Jury assessment

4. Diversify

Diversity sources of grants

Travel grants, professional development grants, marketing, etc
Apply for as a much as you can, seriously. This is just practical.

Diversify your revenue

Get funding from other sources, don’t heavily rely on grants. 

Other revenue sources:

Step 1: Before you write

lisa simpson writing

Read guidelines over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, etc.

Know your deadlines
Deadlines vary: ongoing, annual, semi-annual, etc
In case you’re wondering, deadlines are based on funder’s fiscal budget.
Government funders are based on political decisions, do they like arts? you can make an impact by VOTING for political groups that support arts & culture. 

Don’t rely on grants and don’t rely on getting it the first time. Sometimes the number of received grant applications exceed the grant budgets so newer applicants might not be able to receive funds (yet). Basically the everyone wants a piece of the pie. 

Don’t get bummed if you fail the first time (or the second or third time). It happens to everybody (even me), so keep on applying and building a relationship with the funder. 

Project funding first then Operating funding. This kinda applies to organizations only. Small projects grants gets funded before operating grants that support wages, rent, etc.

Step 2: The actual writing

Use plain language
Someone else (grant reviewer) is going to read this. If a stranger can understand your project, you’re good. Give your application to someone to look over, if they are confused, you’re doing it wrong. If they get it, you’re doing awesome.

The grant reviewer is probably reading like 20 or 100 applications in a short time, so keep it snappy. 

Answer questions directly. 
Typical grant question: What are expected outcomes of your project?
Answer: The expected outcomes are……everyone is awesome (or whatever).

Example: Canada Council Supporting Artistic Practice - Sector Innovation and Development APPLICATION NAME : The Future is You and Me - Fall 2018 workshop series

Write out a big master plan of your project (this is like a business plan):
Typical grant questions:

  • Who will be involved in the project?

  • What form will the project take? What will be involved?

  • Where will the project take place?

  • When will the project take place?

  • How will the project proceed?

  • Why are you doing this project and why is it important?

If you’re applying for multiple grants with the different funders, use the master plan as a guide. Easy to copy/paste and keep your ideas straight.

Budget - template for you
Include potential revenue from other grants
Include expenses (as real as possible)
Include in-kind stuff (labour, volunteer hours, office/phone/etc)

Resources on professional artist fees because compensation is important!

Resources for Non-artist / administrative positions

Other things that they might include (you should include as much as you can, srsly!):

  • Samples of work
    If the grant asks for specifics, do it! For example: if they ask for a video DVD for your work, do not send a YouTube link and vice versa. 

  • Letters of support (super valuable if you are collaborating).

  • Documentation (photo / video of previous or current work, include your work and your audience if possible).
    Examples: HKX (performance with photo and video), Lindsay Nixon (writing / curatorial).


Read / Proof / Edit / Repeat
Let a friend read it, if they get it, you are doing awesome. 

Confirm all your stuff
Go over the application checklist (if provided). And actually check off the boxes.

Send grant application on time. Ideally before the deadline, snail mail could be delayed or online portals could not be functioning properly. 



Now what?

- Acknowledge your funder (logos, shoutouts, etc etc)
Funders will be more kind to you in the next application if you give them credit, obvs.

- Invite funders (program officer) to your events/concerts/programs/parties
Let them see what’s going on, how awesome you are with their money. 

- Do any final reporting 
It’s boring but seriously, do them and send them on time. They wanna know how well you did with their money. You can not receive a grant next time if you do not do the final report for your previous project. 

This stuff will result in higher chance of receiving funding next time!!!!