Poynter’s blog featured an article titled, “5 ways to get a grant that will finance your journalism career,” written by repeatedly successful grant recipient, Jillian Keenan, a few weeks ago. I’ve attempted to provide summarized, brief interpretations of those pieces of advice.
Additionally, I’ve incorporated some tips from fellow self proclaimed “grizzled grant writing veteran” Caroline Leopold, who piped in on the conversation via the comment board, for additional insight. There’s no more applicable writing experience for a journalism student or professional than to apply and receive a grant to fund your work.
Grants can be the much needed stepping stone to get you to the next point in your journalism education and career.
1. Get specialized, very specialized.
Anyone who has ever so much as glanced at a board of available grants knows, grant officiators like applicants to be painfully particular. While it may seem tedious to have every last detail of your mission, journey, or project mapped out, it can also provide the perfect opportunity when the right funds become available. So find something you are passionate and knowledgeable about, and then specialize, and specialize some more, until you know exactly what it is you want to do, who you’ll do it with, and how you’ll get it done.
2. Thoroughly research the foundation you’re applying to.
As with any grant, foundations generally have issues, and types of grants that they are most likely to fund. For journalism students and professionals, if you are trying to study abroad, or travel with the money, make sure the foundation to which you’re applying frequently dispenses funds for those types of scholastic endeavors. If the foundation you desire, another one may, but no use wasting your time on the wrong foundation.
3. Get a fiscal sponsor.
Since a large portion of grants are available only to non-profits, it can be slim pickings for grant-seeking individuals. There is a way you can apply for those sought after organization grants as an individual however. Basically, a legitimate 501(c)(3) can allow an individual to apply for sponsorship on their behalf, and allow said individual to keep the funds. Find a non-profit whose mission is aligned with yours, and attempt to forge a relationship, volunteering can’t hurt your chances.
4. Prove you can get things done.
Grant organizations want to know that your project will succeed, but you don’t necessarily have to do that with professional clout. If you’re really passionate about a project, create some examples of work and post them to your own web-site. As long as you have something to show those in charge of releasing the funds that you can produce, that should be sufficient.
5. Don’t limit yourself to journalism scholarships.
I’ll keep this one short and sweet, because it’s as simple as it sounds. When researching for scholarships, don’t limit yourself to grants simply for journalism students. Look for any and all grants related to your interests, if a grant seems like a good fit, apply.
6. Avoid highly publicized grant opportunities.
As grant opportunities become increasingly competitive, so does the effectiveness of applying for major grants. If you see a grant advertised all over Facebook, chances are so does everyone else in your demographic. Grants are just as much of a numbers game as anything, so if you pick a gigantic grant with millions of applicants, your chances of winning decrease dramatically.
7. Ask wealthy contacts for partial funding first.
It’s standard for wealthy families to have a small foundation in their name. Ask around, and go to them with your plan or project outline, first, even if they’re loosely affiliated with you. Funders appreciate applicants who prove they can earn a portion of their own money initially, it also provides some just in case money, if you don’t receive any grants.
Conclusion: These tips come from seasoned grant recipients, so pay attention. If you are passionate about journalism, and want to further your career with a project or travel, don’t let money hold you back. There’s a multitude of grants available for a variety of subjects if you know where to look, and how to apply.