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Writing for Grants: How to Approach Project Proposals & Personal Statements

So you’ve finally decided to take the leap. You, or a trusted friend/hired grant writer, are going to write an application to get your next Great Idea funded! Getting Great Ideas off the ground can be challenging and intimidating, but without taking the leap, we’d never make great art.


Now that you’ve decided that you’re going to make this idea into a reality, it’s time to get down to brass tacks on what exactly needs to go into your application. Kimberly Lavon of Mint Maven has a great post on how to get started, but I wanted to dive into two aspects that can really make or break your application: the project proposal and the personal statement.


the word "grant" highlighted in a dictionary


The Project Proposal


I’ll start with the project proposal. Everyone has a Great Idea buried somewhere in their head, their closet, or their journal. In your project proposal, you have the chance to explain your Great Idea in a compelling way.  The jurors want to know exactly what your project is and how you’re going to bring it to life. You can think of it much like journalists think of their stories. 


Here are some questions that should be answered in the proposal:

  • What is your Great Idea, after all?

  • Who is involved in the project, and in what capacity?

  • Why have you chosen these people?

  • Why is your Great Idea important at this time?


Then, you have to explain the logistics:

  • Where is it going to happen?

  • When are you going to do it, and how long will it take?

  • Is it going to cost money, time, resources, and if so, how much?


The jury wants to read the answers to all these questions because it shows them how feasible your project is,and whether or not you’re likely to be able to complete it. The jury members are either artists themselves or working extensively in the arts, so they know what it means to undertake such big projects.


The Personal Statement/Artist Statement


The other key piece of many proposals is the personal or artist statement. The list of things you need to elaborate on is a bit shorter here, but no less important. 

  • Who are you exactly, and what are your medium(s) of practice?

  • Do you have themes, materials, underlying concepts, or something else to define your practice?

  • What’s your past experience with projects like this?

  • And most importantly: what makes you as an artist different from everyone else?


This last one is often the hardest one to answer, but is by far the most important. There are plenty of other artists out there, vying for the same funding that you’re trying to get. But there is no other you. And while that in itself is maybe enough to sleep at night, you’re trying to convince a jury that they should fund you instead of anybody else, and that requires a more persuasive line of thinking. What makes your journey as a human through this world different enough that you’re the best person to realize this Great Idea of yours?


At the end of the day, the crux of any good grant application boils down to how clearly you can answer these three questions:

  • Why you?

  • Why this?

  • Why now?

If you can convince the jury of the answers to these questions through your project proposal and personal statement, you are well on the way to success in the grant funding realm!



Chelsea McBride is a US-based Canadian writing English-language grants for clients internationally. When she’s not putting pen to paper for your applications, she’s making music into a reality - hers and others. Chelsea’s music can be found at http://crymmusic.bandcamp.com or wherever you stream music online. And to learn more about her services, you can reach out directly at chelsea@crymmusic.com.



Looking for the right grants to bring your Great Idea to life? For the Lost Creative is a database of creative scholarships, grants, internships, jobs, and more!





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