This is the second of my reports on the Special Libraries Association 2015 Annual Conference in Boston.
Revolutions in Grant Writing: Finding Funding for Collections in the 21st Century used the new “master class” format intended to bring more advanced content to the SLA conference. The three speakers talked about the grant process in depth, going well beyond writing a grant application to look at what organizations can do to better position themselves for successful applications and for getting the most out of a grant after it is awarded.
Nina Zannieri, executive director of the Paul Revere Memorial Association, suggested several resources to help organizations assess themselves before starting the grant process:
- StEPs, or the Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations, a tool from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)
- Museum Assessment Program from the American Alliance for Museums is intended for small to medium size museums but may also apply to some libraries and archives
- Is Your Museum Grant-Ready?: Assessing Your Organization’s Potential for Funding by Sarah S. Brophy, published 2005 by the AASLH
- Small Museum Toolkit, a collection of 6 books published in 2011 by the AASLH
Zannieri also suggested looking at community foundations and state and local cultural councils.
Next, Amy Lucko and Christa Williford from the Council on Library and Information Resources talked about the grant writing process and had attendees read and evaluate a grant application to get a feel for the criteria funders use. Speaking from the perspective of potential grant funders, they suggested that libraries applying for grants identify internal and collaborative resources for the proposed project and in the application aim for alignment, articulation, and accuracy:
- Alignment: Do the project’s goals match those of the funder? Are you staying in scope? Is the project realistic? Don’t be afraid to contact the funder with questions.
- Articulation: Follow the application guidelines, use clear language, and be sure to answer all questions, even if they seem redundant. Different sections may be read by different reviewers.
- Accuracy: Check numbers and details in your application. Make sure it is consistent.
Finally, Patricia Hewitt from the New Mexico History Museum, a CLIR Cataloging Hidden Collections grant recipient, gave suggestions for making the most of the post-award period and sustaining momentum after the grant. She stressed the importance of assessment to the project and said the funded project could be used to make a case for a budget and/or staff to keep or expand a successful project.
Bringing in different speakers to address different parts of the grant funding cycle was helpful and I thought this session succeeded in going beyond the usual how to find a funder and write a grant application.