The Grant Cycle
Applicant Outreach and Engagement
Over the years, LCCs have developed strategies to find, inform, and assist potential applicants. Be creative and find a plan that works best for your community. Examples of ways LCCs can engage applicants:
Outreach to Potential Applicants
Share information about the LCC grant program and promote the opportunity in various ways that reach as many eligible individuals and groups as possible. Being open and inviting, while providing supportive resources, can enhance the diversity of candidates and inclusivity of the grant process.
Talk to the community’s school superintendent, principals, teachers, and PTA/PTOs about submitting applications from a school or school district. This will assist the program to serve a larger population of students. LCCs can also reach out to other community-based entities such as cultural organizations, youth and family centers, senior centers, artist collectives, maker spaces, and others that may be eligible to apply.
When preparing for the grant cycle, also consider the types of resources that might be helpful to existing and new applicants. Grant-writing workshops can provide an overview of council priorities, evaluation criteria, and a walk-through of the online application. Mass Cultural Council staff is also available to provide grant-writing workshops; you can contact your program officer for assistance. When encouraging new applicants, consider and provide engagement and resources that may be helpful to someone who has never applied to the program before.
Strategies for expanding and strengthening an LCC’s application pool:
- Conduct community engagement and input to inform your council priorities.
- Publicize deadlines well in advance and promote grant opportunity via multiple channels (social media, newspapers, word-of-mouth, flyers, etc.).
- Offer workshops for potential applicants.
- Network with other LCCs about quality programs that could be replicated by the LCC and invite organizations or individuals to apply.
- Contact potential applicants/groups who have never taken advantage of the funding.
- Offer to provide one-on-one guidance for new applicants with their applications.
- Contact an individual or organization and suggest that they develop an application that responds to an unmet need. The LCC can suggest ways the project might be carried out. Approval cannot be promised. The proposal must be evaluated fairly with all other submitted applications.
- Reach out to art associations, studios, and galleries to ensure local artists are aware of funding opportunities.
LCCs can assist applicants during the application process:
- Staff a table at the library for an hour or two at a convenient time before the deadline to answer applicant questions.
- Offer an LCC grant writing workshop in advance of the deadline to review the application questions, funding criteria and other procedures required to complete a proposal. Identify your council’s priorities and review criteria and use it to help applicants evaluate their proposal idea and budget. Use and modify these sample resources to plan and hold a grant writing workshop:
- Create your own fact sheet. A fact sheet can save time that you might otherwise spend on the phone with applicants answering repetitive, basic questions. A fact sheet also helps LCCs provide consistent information. When creating a fact sheet, consider including the following:
- Basic eligibility requirements and criteria, along with any council priorities and guidelines.
- Any relevant instructions such as whether you accept paper applications or require supplemental materials when submitting a grant request.
- Contact information in case the applicant needs assistance.
Include the fact sheet on your council’s profile to ensure that all potential applicants are aware of any council priorities.
LCCs can conduct applicant interviews as part of the grant review process. While allowed, interviews cannot be required of applicants. LCCs cannot disapprove an application for the sole reason that the applicant was unable to attend an applicant interview. On a similar note, applicant interviews cannot provide an advantage over non-interviewed applicants.
Mass Cultural Council discourages LCCs from holding interviews unless it is absolutely necessary to reach a granting decision.
- Ensure fairness by extending invitations to all applicants.
- Ask clarifying questions about proposal.