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Tips and Tricks for Securing Museum Funding and Library Grants

As a result of COVID-19, securing museum funding and library grants has become a serious priority for 2020. You need to write a stellar application that catches attention and clearly articulates the unique value of your work. We polled some of our active fundraising clients to create a list of tips and tricks for granting success to help you in your fundraising journey.

Getting started:

For research-related grants, there’s usually an annual deadline. Collections-based grants are ever-evolving. You have to sign up for alerts. Get on notification streams to receive emails every time there are new museum funding or library grant opportunities.

Once a year, go back through all the listservs you sign up for and clean up your subscriptions.

Then assemble your grant team. Pick a small crew to spearhead writing the grant. It’s usually up to one person to create the first draft with others coming in as quick editors. Alternatively, you can chunk out the grant into smaller sections where expertise resides. In either case, choose a small group of people who are able to invest time in the writing process. Know that it will be pedal to the medal until the day the grant is submitted.

Strengthen your application:

Think Collaboratively within your Organization
If you can draw a commonality to another entity at a higher administrative level, do it. It’s all about buy-in and sharing resources, not sitting in a silo. At an even larger scale, follow the standards in your discipline. Point to other collaborative projects that have developed standards and protocols that you follow. iDigBio for example.

And think collaboratively beyond your Organization
Look to other regions to see what has been done previously because often you can capitalize on other regions and other projects. If another group’s work can be incorporated in any way shape or form it will help. That’s general grantsmanship 101.

Appeal to the visual learner
When you are writing grants make sure you have compelling pictures or graphics to supplement your points. A visual gap
analysis is powerful. If you can transmit the story in bullet points and a couple simple pictures, you’ll be ahead of the

If you are rejected:

Make sure you speak to your grant sponsor. This is so important. Pick up the phone and call the person who is assigned to your grant. Calling instead of email gives you the ability to have a candid conversation with the granting officer. Ask if something came up in the panel conversation that hasn’t been communicated.

If you are awarded:

Sit down with your accountant and create a simplified spreadsheet of the budget and use that to report monthly on what has been spent. Then meet with your project team to create a calendar with milestones and due dates for each phase of the project. The calendar becomes a giant to-do list to track your progress. You’ll also want to review the grant requirements which
often include reporting. Reporting deadlines should be marked in your calendar to ensure all requirements are being met and that the grant stays on track.

Pro Tip:

You’ll want to know if it’s possible to ask for an extension. Sometimes you can get an extension up to a year. Because of COVID, you might be able to ask for an even longer extension.

This is just a small subset of the insightful advice we collected from museum funding pros in our community. Find the full list of Tips and Tricks plus other helpful resources and a list of open or upcoming grants in our Ultimate Museum Grant Guide.

Get the Guide

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