The ‘golden years’ of public media stations quickly grabbing six-figure grants from government and community foundations may be over, but there is still money available to support public media organizations. The problem is that few stations have a staff person focused on researching and writing grants. Plus, all grants should support specific projects. It doesn’t help an organization if you simply chase money that you don’t have the resources to support or sustain.
Either you or your staff will need to research the grant making organizations that may be interested in helping you meet your station’s goals. The general manager or head of fundraising may want to schedule a meeting with a program officer so that you can begin developing a relationship. You are more likely to be successful if the granting staff knows something about your mission and objectives. Invite them to your station.
Obtain their guidelines for funding. Agencies might have a one-page letter request or a specific process.
If your station is affiliated with a university, it is likely that there are grant writers on staff. You might be able to get their help. If that is not possible, there are many freelance writers that have this experience.
Not all writers are grant writers. That is why experience is important. Grant writers must know how to express the needs of the organization that meet the needs of the funder and capture the attention of those who review the proposals.
- – Gathering information about the organizations needs
- – Analyzing the programmatic needs of the organization as well as budget
- – Analyzing the proposal
- – Drafting a proposal for review by station management.
- – Revising, editing, and proofreading the proposal
- – Submitting the proposal before the deadline.
Remember that real people read your proposal. So be a storyteller. How will their investment help address an issue or a problem in the community? Tell them about a specific person that might benefit from this project. Funding agencies want to affect change. Show them how this will happen. Don’t talk down to the reader. Get them excited about this project.
A funding agency might receive 100 proposals for the limited amount of money they can distribute. Because they can be overwhelmed, they look for easy disqualifiers. That is why it is important to follow their rules and not omit important information. Find out who might sit on their Board of Directors. Is there someone on your board or within your institution that can help shepherd your proposal through the process? If your proposal is not funding, set up a conference with the program officer to learn about the decision. Your interest may help you secure funding in the future.
This is an excerpt from THE PUBLIC MEDIA MANAGER’S HANDBOOK. Learn more about the tools you will need to be a successful leader of your organization.