With the Heritage Grants deadline approaching on March 21, many applicants are thinking about how to best position their applications for success. Keeping in mind MH’s process and audience for your application can help avoid unnecessary work.

One challenge of writing a strong grant proposal is to describe the significance and details of your project using a limited number of words. When developing a project idea into a draft proposal, it can be easy to explore connected ideas and possible topics, locations, themes, and how various pieces might fit together. But for the final application, you will need to focus on your project’s specifics and narrow them down into one project with a coherent focus that addresses the Heritage Grants Program’s theme of exploring ethic and racial history in Michigan. To do so, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The audience for your application is MH’s grant review committee and advisory group. Last year, they read 75 Heritage Grant applications. That’s a lot of reading! Thinking strategically about how to present your proposal in a concise but effective way is crucially important.
  • Get to the point quickly. To shorten your proposal, focus on the project’s most important components: the content for which you are requesting funding.
  • Don’t forget the details. In the final application, it is important to have the details of your project in place. Where and when will it occur? Who are the partners and advisors?
  • Define terms. Remember, MH’s grant review committee may not be familiar with your organization or community. Make sure you define key terms or acronyms that are important to your project. Once you determine the language you’ll use to describe your work and project, keep it standardized throughout the application.
  • Include letters of support. Will you be collaborating with another organization on your project? If so, make sure to include a letter(s) of support. Detailed letters of support will speak to the significance of your project and help MH’s review committee understand the value and depth of the partnership.
  • Connect your budget. Sometimes it’s easy to leave out items you need funding for from your narrative or include items in your narrative that don’t correspond to the budget you provided. This can cause confusion for grant reviewers, so don’t forget to align the expenses in the budget with your project’s narrative description.

Lastly, even if you submitted a draft, it is always good to take a look at all sections of the final application before the day of the deadline to avoid any surprises about what information is needed. You can access it here: http://forms.michiganhumanities.org/app/heritage/edit.

Joe Cialdella is the Heritage Grants Program Manager. If you have questions about submitting an application, you should contact him at jcialdella@mihumanities.org or 517-372-7770.