College Radio Station Grants and How to Get Them
College Radio Station Grants
Unless you attend a school with a well-known or award-winning college radio station, like Columbia College or DuPaul, chances are good your radio station could use more funding. Grants are a fantastic way to get extra money for your station, but people are frequently intimidated by the grant writing process.
While in college, I served as my station's PR director, and I studied grant writing in graduate school, so I am confident my tips and tricks can increase your chances of becoming a successful grant writer who secures money for your college radio station.
The Funder's Needs Are the Most Important
How to Apply for Grants
Grant writing is a weakness for many people. For most, the idea of writing a grant is daunting. However, you can take a deep breath and relax—if you are reading this, you are a step ahead of everyone who just dives into looking for grants without researching grant writing.
First and foremost, remember that, while you are writing a grant for your station, grants are actually all about the funder. Your job as a grant writer is convincing the funder you are their best investment. If you see a request for proposal, or RFP, you are interested in, do research on the company before you begin writing your grant.
In grant writing terms, the RFP is what the funding organization provides to potential applicants. The grant is the document you write, as well as the money to be awarded. While researching, find out what the company stands for, what its interests are, and what grants it has funded in the past. Appealing to a funder's special interests, especially if they are not explicitly stated in the RFP, is sure to please the organization.
The pyramid to the right shows the three main factors you should take into account while writing a grant. The funder's needs are foundational, and your needs should balance with the community's needs at the top. Many grants have specific goals for community outreach, such as reaching a 'minority' audience, so you must consider your town and college.
Next, use the RFP as your road map. When you write a grant, address each point of the RFP to ensure you cover everything the funder wants. Give your information in the same order as the points in the RFP. If the grant has a set dollar amount, do not exceed this amount, even by $1. Also, provide information on sustainability. Funders do not want their money to go to waste—they want to know how the project they are funding will be continued after the grant money is out, or how the project will have a lasting impact for your radio station.
Do not rush. Only submit a grant if it is ready, even if you have to wait until next year.
Finally, always make sure to allow yourself enough time to write a powerful grant. Researching the funder, writing a grant, and editing can take a long time. Editing is crucial. You should carefully examine your grant to make everything as concise and to the point as possible. Funders have to sort through hundreds, or even thousands, of grants—getting your point across clearly without taking up their time is key. If you do not have time to prepare a high-quality grand before the deadline, do not submit it. Most grants are funded annually. If your grant is not ready this year, submit it next year. With a year of research and preparation behind your grant, it is much more likely to receive funding than a slapped together proposal. Simply throwing together a grant at the last minute is probably the number one trap novice grant writers fall prey to.
Grants for Radio Stations
Now that you know a bit about the grant writing process, you can begin searching for college radio station grants. Grants for stations, as well as personal grants, fellowships, and scholarships to develop your abilities as a member of the media are all available. Depending on the type of grant, grants may be used for basically any type of expense, including electricity, equipment, and salaries.
A fantastic place to start your search is with the Association of Independents in Radio. The link takes you directly to its listing of grants, scholarships, and fellowships for college radio and journalism.
Many grants have specific requirements and qualifications. For example, the CPB, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, offers an annual grant that specifically targets colleges and universities with a traditionally majority minority population, such as historically black or Native American schools.
The Ford Foundation also offers annual educational broadcasting grants. Overall, the Ford Foundation typically receives over 40,000 requests each year and offers about 1,400 grants. This means you need to do your research submit a rock-solid proposal if you apply for a Ford Foundation grant.
The National Endowment for the Arts also offers grants, some of which are open to college radio stations. Available grants range from $10,000 to $100,000. Once again, the number of applicants is high, so make sure to submit a tight proposal. The NEA's grant application page has links to videos about how to apply for its Fast Track grant, which college radio stations are eligible for.
Securing a Grant for Your College Radio Station
Grant writing is a lot of work, but a well-written grant could land your station tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars. You can use a grant to pay everyday expensive, get the upgraded equipment you need to join the world of 21st century broadcasting, or improve your presence in the community. In order to write a successful grant, always make sure you do thorough research, consider the funder's needs, and take the time to produce a well-written, well-edited grant. Following these suggestions gives you a leg up on your competition, who, if they are like most grant writers today, have not studied strategies for grant writing success.
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