You want more funding for your organization, so you've decided to apply big. Yes, you've decided to apply to the federal government for money. You know that if you get any money from the feds it will probably be a tiny fraction of your budget, think $5,000-10,000, and that the federal grant will be the hardest grant you will ever write. But the reason you are writing the grant is that you understand that if you get federal funding it will signal your local funders that you have been properly vetted and you will be able to get more foundation and corporate funding.
It's that time of year when organizations apply for grants from the National Endowment of the Arts. There are certain rules that are good to follow if you are going to get a serious check from the NEA.
1. It would help a lot if you started your organization at least 40 years ago.
2. It would help if your organization already had a lot of money. The best funded organizations get the most money. So don't apply unless you've been around for a while and have a lot of money already.
3. It would help if you don't have a singular or ordinary grant writer but an advancement team of trained professionals who are writing your grants. With the funding you already have, you should be able to put together a very slick application package.
The top ten funded book publishers in the country are as follows:
1. Graywolf at $90,000. Already one of the biggest and oldest and certainly the most famous independent publishing companies in the country, Graywolf also receives the most money from the NEA.
2. Copper Canyon at $70,000. The same age as Graywolf and also running at well over a million, Copper Canyon has an impeccable reputation and a worthy list.
3. Milkweed -- $65,000 -- started in1979 and has continued to thrive and is one of the three huge independent presses based in Minneapolis along with Coffeehouse and Graywolf.
4. Coffee House -- $65,000 -- begun in 1970, by Allan Kornblum, Coffee House is simply a beloved institution and very well funded as well.
5. Voice of Witness -- $60,000 -- the first one in this list so far that was not founded in the 1970s. Voice of Witness is part of the wealthy Dave Eggers' literary empire which includes huge funding which helps float the 826 projects and funnels into The Believer and McSweeneys.
6. Open Letter Books -- $45,000
7. Feminist Press -- $42,500
8. BOA -- $40,000
9. Wesleyan -- $40,000
10. Teachers and Writers Collaborative -- $30,000, more of a literary organzation than a press
11. Archipelago -- $30,000
12. Sarabande -- $30,000, founded in 1994, the same year as Red Hen.
What does all this mean to you?
1. Go ahead and apply for your first grant from the feds and expect to not get it.
2. Call them up and find out what you did wrong.
3. If you do everything right, expect to get a grant every two to three years and not get more than 2 percent of your whole budget until you have been around for a long time.
4. Expect to be able to receive more grants from your local funders if you do get a grant even if you don't get an NEA every single year.
5. You can write an NEA yourself. You do not need to pay an outside grant writer $2,500 to write it for you and you shouldn't because that might be 1/4 of the grant you're getting.