Are you looking for tips to get funding for your creative business or project? You aren’t the only creative looking for funding, money, and support. This is a very popular question!
My top tips to get funding for your creative business or project
In my career as a creative business adviser and trainer, I have been responsible for many grants projects and I was responsible for writing many successful grant applications for CIDA (Cultural Industries Development Agency) in East London in the early 2000’s, generating hundreds of thousands of pounds for local creative business development projects.
Before reading my top tips to get funding for your creative business or project below you might like to read my article on Busting the Myth of Funding. If you are looking for a list of recommended creative business funding organisations and resources then click here.
Here are my top tips based on my own extensive experience of fundraising for large creative and cultural projects.
Tip 1: Do your research!
There are no general pots of money available but there are grants or funding available for specific purposes (e.g. to explore a new material, for a creative residency, as a first time exhibitor at a trade show, …), in specific locations, for specific sectors, for specific age groups.
Check if you are eligible (!), when deadlines are, what the application procedure is, what the likelihood is of you getting the funding.
Don’t waste your time on applications that you are very unlikely to get. You will be surprised how often I have seen people fantasising about and applying for grants that they are not eligible for.
Stop procrastinating and wasting your time.
If you need money fast then actually getting clients and working on your marketing will have a far quicker and better outcome than trying to get funding!
Tip 2: If you want money you’ll need a solid financial plan
You will need to be able to convince any banks or funders of your knowledge and ability to run a profitable business or worthwhile project. Include a budget or financial forecast that clearly shows how much money you need, how and when you will spend it, and in case of a soft loan also how you are planning to pay your loan back.
Tip 3: Do you really want to do this?
This might sound like a stupid question, but I have seen many, many creatives over the last twenty years getting carried away with funding opportunities (that came to nothing).
Grants are often provided for specific projects and purposes, so make sure that this actually fits in your bigger plan, as I have seen people wasting lots of time on activities that don’t really fit in with what they are about, want to do or are actually good at.
Is it really worthwhile getting a grant of £5,000 for a project that takes you many months to implement, and which is not really what you want to do? I have seen creatives been driven away from their core activities by a relatively small pot of money. Having to do community workshops with the local population while you prefer to work on developing your own practice is a waste of everybody’s time and energy.
Tip 4: Get professional advice
Developing funded projects and writing grant applications is hard work, so get all the advice and support you need. Talk to grant officers at the funding organisation, attend funding workshops (if they are available), and even ask other creatives who have been successful before.
Tip 5: Have you got the credibility?
You need to give evidence of your experience creatively, but also in managing projects, budgets and people. If you are a very new creative business with limited experience and profile than it’s much less likely that you will get funding than if you are a well known creative.
Keep it small to start with. What could you do with £1,000 or £5,000 to show that you can handle these kinds of projects?
Have you got the financial facts and proof of your experience and credibility on paper? Who is on your ‘team’ that can provide this additional credibility? Who could you ask to be your professional reference?
Tip 6: See funding as ‘the icing on the cake’ not as ‘a means to an end’.
Getting funding for a project can be wonderful, but your main purpose as a creative business should be on getting clients, not on getting funding. Funding alone in the long term is not financially sustainable, you need to build a client base to get regular income.
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