After my experience as a judge of the IdeasTap panel, and my own experience of applying for funding or just filling out arts application forms in general, I’ve picked up a few things on what makes a successful applicant. There are four main aspects of an application that I believe you need to get across quickly!
1) Follow the structure and basic formatting of the application form. The judges then know where everything is and you won’t miss something important out. Yeah I know it may seem a brilliant idea to upload a generic flyer about what you are doing, but it’s not what the judges want to see- if you can’t follow directions on the application form, or provide the information that they want you can hardly expect them to give you money. It’s a no brainer really!
2) Language and style of writing. You need to grab their attention. So an ‘AGO’ (Attention Grabbing Opening) is the way to go. Show them that you are enthusiastic about your idea, BUT, don’t go over board on the flowery language (put away that thesaurus). It needs to be straightforward to read so they can concentrate on the actual project and not trying to understand what you are actually trying to say. Be concise!
3) Budgets. They are ridiculously easier to understand if they are in a table! NO LISTS PLEASE! Detail all of your expected expenses and income sources- include in kind, other grants/funding you have applied for and a contingency fund. Be realistic, get quotes, write down individual unit prices. If you budget is way too ambitious then the judges are less inclined! Also, you might want to make clear how important the money you are applying for is- will your project still go ahead even without the money, or is ‘make it or break it’? Oh and most importantly write down precisely what the money you are applying for will be spent on!
4) Yourself! The judges should try to be as objective as possible, so putting aside any personal relations with applicants. Therefore, your application is realistically the only thing you can rely on- IT NEEDS TO BE GREAT! Tell them about yourself (don’t launch into a four hundred page autobiography), tell them about successful past projects, your background and collaborations. All of this will help them build a more detailed picture of you, and give you a better chance.
Basically: the perfect blend of a great idea, realistic planning/budget and clear lucid explanation.
And, then hopefully you should get the funding you applied for, you can do your project and be amazing! If you need help with budgeting and/or application help, then IdeasMag is usually pretty safe bet, or just do a quick Google search. Good Luck!