Grantwriting Guide

This is an updated version of “How to write grants” from The Future is you and me”. For any questions about grants or more grant writing assistance, please contact Kristin. (Last updated Feb 13, 2023).

1. Research

Research funders that share the same vision (Small vs. Large funders)

Small: community grants fund smaller projects – these folks love small projects.

Large: Federal grants fund larger projects/operations – these folks love showing how awesome big organizations can effect change on national level.

Example: Canada Council – How we make funding decisions
Funding principles > decision making process > commitments
Try and see if your project vision aligns with the Canada Council’s principles and long term commitments


  • Vancouver Foundation – Neighbourhood Small Grants – community projects in your hood, up to $500.
  • Cultural Spaces Fund – for cultural infrastructure to support improvement, renovation and construction of arts and heritage facilities. The maximum contribution payable for an individual construction or renovation project is $15,000,000 or 50% of total eligible project costs, whichever is less.
  • VS Arts Grants – Inspired by our mothers, we are offering a $500 grant to 10 women/femmes of colour (BIPOC) in Canada who are 35 years or older, to pay for any art course of their choosing.
  • Creative Spark Grant – supports emerging artists (of any age) to engage young people in artsbased projects. Creative Spark Vancouver offers up to 100% funding for projects! Individual artists can apply for up to $3,000. Collectives or groups of emerging artists working together can apply up to $5,000.
  • Canada Council – Professional Development for Artists – Project grants to support career advancement activities for artists and artistic groups. Grant amount is up to $10 000.
  • Canada Council – Research and Creation – Project grants to support creative research, development and the creation of new works by artists, artistic groups or organizations. Grant amount is up to $25,000.
  • Canada Council – Concept to Realization – Project or composite grants to support activities that will result in completed works that are shown to the public. Project requests $60,000, exceptionally up to $100,000.
  • FACTOR – The Artist Development Program offers a $2,000 subsidy toward one year of artist development activities including sound recording, touring & showcasing, video production, marketing and promotion.

2. Get to know the grant

Found an awesome granting program??

Read their guidelines. Don’t be afraid to ask (a million) questions to Grant Coordinator/Program Officer*

It’s THEIR job to help you. They get paid big bucks to give away big bucks. They would rather answer a million questions beforehand than see you hand in an incomplete/crappy grant application and reject off the bat.

Make friends. Good way to start to build a relationship with the funder. 

Tip – Review Grant eligibility first – Number of publications or performances AND receiving payment is important for funders

EXAMPLE: BC Arts Council – Creative writers Eligibility

A demonstrated body of work must include: Level One
For awards at Level One, the applicant must have at least one book (minimum 48 pages) published by a professional literary or trade publisher engaging an editorial selection process, and for which
they have a publishing contract and receive royalties, OR an equivalent defined as:
Fiction and non-fiction: a minimum of 120 pages published in professional literary magazines or periodicals, or anthologies published by recognized professional publishing houses, and for
which they have received payment.
• Poetry: 40 pages of poetry published in professional literary magazines or periodicals, or anthologies published by recognized professional publishing houses, and for which they have
received payment.
• Drama: a minimum of two short works or one full-length work professionally produced, published, or publicly workshopped, and for which they have received payment.
Spoken word: professional history of recent public performances in dub, sound, or performance poetry, storytelling, ASL poetry, or other performance literature forms for which they have received payment on at least three separate occasions.
• Graphic novels and comic arts: a minimum of 120 pages published in professional literary magazines or periodicals, or anthologies published by recognized professional publishing houses, and for which they have received payment. Eligible projects in this genre include projects that are visual in nature; unified in narrative, style, theme, and/or concept; and intended for professional publication as a book, series of comics, or web comic. Most projects will include both text and visual elements. Wordless projects intended solely or primarily for publication, with a strong sequential structure or narrative direction, are eligible. Works for all ages are eligible. Both or either of the writer and artist may apply as long as they meet the
eligibility criteria.

EXAMPLE: Canada Council – Applicant Profile

To be eligible as a literary writer, you must: 

• have specialized training or a combination of experience in the field of literature 

• be recognized as a professional by peers working in the same literary artistic tradition 

• have a history of publications in a professional context, implying an editorial selection process, with remuneration 

• have a commitment to devoting more time to artistic activity, if possible financially 

• have published a minimum of 1 eligible title or: 

• for fiction, have published a minimum of 4 texts of creative literary fiction (e.g. short stories or excerpts from novels) published on 2 separate occasions in eligible literary magazines, periodicals or anthologies published by a literary book publisher 

• for poetry, have a minimum of 10 poems published in literary magazines, periodicals or anthologies that are published by literary book publishers 

• for literary non-fiction, have a minimum of 40 pages of literary articles published in literary magazines, periodicals or anthologies that are published by literary book publishers 

To be eligible as a spoken word artist, storytelling artist, or literary performance artist, you must: 

• be a professional artist, and 

• have created or publicly presented a minimum of 2 spoken word, storytelling or literary performances and have received an artist fee for them 

3. Life Pro tip: Learn the grant assessment process

Is it assessed by a jury/committee*? If so, seek out previous jury members and ask them for advice, these folks can probably will give very general advice or help you look over your grant.

*just like grant program officer, these committee is usually made up of like-minded people in same sector or community members, previous artists/arts administrators.

4. Diversify

Diversity sources of grants

Travel grants, professional development grants, marketing, etc
Apply for as a much as you can, seriously. This is just practical.

  • BC Arts Council – Mentorship Grants
  • Art Starts – Artist in the Classroom – Artists, Teachers, Principals and PAC Representatives can apply for Artists in the Classroom (AIC) Grants to bring professional artists into the classrooms. Through AIC, artists and educators collaborate to expand the role of arts in education and activate learning for young people across BC. AIC Grants support projects in schools across BC that demonstrate artistic impact, strong curricular connections, high levels of student engagement and an active partnership between educators and professional artists.
  • Access Copyright Foundation – Professional Development – learn new skills
  • Canada Council – Travel Grants – travelling to attend conferences and fun stuff
  • Art Starts – Creative Spark – Emerging artists across all artistic and cultural disciplines living in the City of Vancouver who have an interest in building their careers and working with young people in an arts or culture-based capacity are invited to apply for Creative Spark Vancouver.
  • ** My personal favourite ** On the Move – Funding opportunities for cultural mobility / sorted by deadline

Diversify your revenue

Get funding from other sources, don’t heavily rely on grants. 

Other revenue sources:

Step 1: Before you write

lisa simpson writing

Read guidelines over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over, etc.

Know your deadlines
Deadlines vary: ongoing, annual, semi-annual, etc
In case you’re wondering, deadlines are based on funder’s fiscal budget.
Government funders are based on political decisions, do they like arts? you can make an impact by VOTING for political groups that support arts & culture. Sometimes they keep promises to double the arts funding!

Don’t rely on grants and don’t rely on getting it the first time. Sometimes the number of received grant applications exceed the grant budgets so newer applicants might not be able to receive funds (yet). Basically the everyone wants a piece of the pie. 

Don’t get bummed if you fail the first time (or the second or third time). It happens to everybody (even me), so keep on applying and building a relationship with the funder. 

Project funding first then Operating funding. This kinda applies to organizations only. Small projects grants gets funded before operating grants that support wages, rent, etc.

Step 2: The actual writing

Use plain language
Someone else (grant reviewer) is going to read this. If a stranger can understand your project, you’re good. Give your application to someone to look over, if they are confused, you’re doing it wrong. If they get it, you’re doing awesome.

The grant reviewer is probably reading like 20 or 60 applications in a short time, so keep it snappy. 

Answer questions directly. 
Typical grant question: What are expected outcomes of your project?
Answer: The expected outcomes are……everyone is awesome (or whatever).

Answer in an honest and genuine way (note: grants will be read by a small group).


Write out a big master plan of your project (this is like a business plan):
Typical grant questions:

  • Who will be involved in the project?
  • What form will the project take? What will be involved?
  • Where will the project take place?
  • When will the project take place?
  • How will the project proceed?
  • Why are you doing this project and why is it important?

If you’re applying for multiple grants with the different funders, use the master plan as a guide. Easy to copy/paste and keep your ideas straight.

Budget – template for you
Include potential revenue from other grants
Include expenses (as real as possible)
Include in-kind stuff (labour, volunteer hours, office/phone/etc)

Resources on professional artist fees because compensation is important!

Resources for Non-artist / administrative positions

Other things that they might include (you should include as much as you can, srsly!):

  • Samples of work 
  • Letters of support (super valuable if you are collaborating).
  • Documentation (photo / video of previous or current work, include your work and your audience if possible).


Read / Proof / Edit / Repeat
Let a friend read it, if they get it, you are doing awesome. 

Confirm all your stuff
Go over the application checklist (if provided). And actually check off the boxes.

Send grant application on time. Ideally before the deadline, snail mail could be delayed or online portals could not be functioning properly. 



Now what?

– Acknowledge your funder (logos, shoutouts, etc etc)
Funders will be more kind to you in the next application if you give them credit, obvs.

– Invite funders (program officer) to your events/concerts/programs/parties
Let them see what’s going on, how awesome you are with their money. 

– Do any final reporting 
It’s boring but seriously, do them and send them on time. They wanna know how well you did with their money. You can not receive a grant next time if you do not do the final report for your previous project. 

This stuff will result in higher chance of receiving funding next time!!!!