This article of grant tips is based on the Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant which is funded through the Legacy Amendment. Although most of these tips can be generalized and applied to any sort of grant final report. My tips are based on my experience of receiving the Artist Initiative grant and my opinion on helpful tips for future funded artists. The final report for 2013-2014 applicants was due yesterday; so this is a recap of my final report experience.
1. Utilize Your Contract
All information you will need to answer the questions that are in the final report will be in your contract. This includes your original budget, attendance projections and outcomes. When I began my final report I was guessing at my original audience projections not realizing that this information was provided for me. Sometimes the information is not in the most obvious places in your contract but once you dig into the content, you will find everything you submitted when you applied last year.
2. Re-read Your Grant Proposal
Take the time to re-read through the grant proposal that you wrote. It will be hard to remember what you wrote and proposed for a project that you submitted over a year ago. Big or small, your plan will have changed in some way from what you originally planned to accomplish.
3. Keep Good Records
You cannot log in where you submitted your grant to review your information. Your login won’t work so you will need to make sure that you refer to your records and directions given to you throughout the entire grant process. Need help? Call the Arts Board, dig through old emails, pull out all your notes, and printouts. Good record keeping is crucial to your success with this final report.
4. Know How to Submit Your Final Report
Before you start your final report, flip to the last page. There you will find the directions for how to submit the final report to the MN State Arts Board. These directions are not included on the instruction page. It will save you time and confusion to read this page first.
5. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute
Honestly, it’s easier said than done. Waiting until the last day to submit your final report is a pain, but let’s face it, artists would rather be in the studio than writing a report. This year, the Artist Initiative Grant was due on a Sunday. This made it difficult for us procrastinators who needed help and assistance. Re and re-read the directions so you make sure you don’t miss any details. And plan ahead.
6. Type Your Response in the Form
You only get so much space for your response and answers. I ended up writing a 10-page analysis of my project only to read the small line on the last page of the final report that says all answers must fit into this form.
7. Proof & Evidence
You will need proof and evidence of a lot of things! Which include press, letters to legislators, and examples of acknowledgement of funding. Tracking metrics both quantitative and qualitative along the way will help explain this.
8. Follow the Directions Exact
I struggled with this tip the most. I began to type my final report into a Word Doc and tried to transfer it into the Final Report Form when I was complete. The form however is programmed to only fit so many characters which included spaces. So, my 10-page analysis describing all the great activities, goals, successes, and challenges was reduced to a short paragraph. If the report says everything must fit into the provided document, then listen. Not following the directions can mean no future funding. Just like the original grant proposal, there is a word limit.
9. Acknowledgement of Funds
During your project, you will need to demonstrate an acknowledgment of funding. This often means a pre-written statement and a required logo or image. Display this required acknowledgment in multiple locations. I printed this on the back of my exhibition invitation, price list, in my catalog, and in an online interview. I had the acknowledgment in about 3 other places as well but I failed to have it exactly as my contract outlined. Just plopping in a “thanks for funding me,” or just a logo will not suffice.
Once you have finished your grant, take the time to ponder on your amazing experience. How often do you get to see a whole project through from inception to completion with a huge budget?! Take the time to sit and record notes. What worked great? What didn’t work so great? What was the process like? What were your challenges? Review your timeline if you had struggles with completing work or details. Use this opportunity to help prepare you for other future funded projects. Yes, this is going to take a little bit more time and effort than just filling in the final report, but it will be worth it!