Yvonne C. is an odd bird.

When she finally emerges to start her day at 2:00 pm, she puts on her chic wig, applies her make up and pours herself into a roomy silk cheong sam that rustles around her flat slippers.

But her routine doesn’t stop there.

There are, of course, all those late afternoon mahjongg games that seep into the early hours of the morning.  How else do you catch up on all the gossip?

And since Fred is gone, there is her ritual of calling for a car:  “Send me young Ling, he knows I don’t like to wait.  What?  No, I simply refuse to have anyone else.  Do you know who I am?”

When people talk to her about her children bickering with each other she flyswats their unfinished questions with a heavily ringed hand and informs them she prefers having them go at each other’s throats until they figure out how to get along.

After all, that’s what her warlord father did whenever his concubines had arguments.

She enjoys the blank stares that appear on their faces.

As she absentmindedly settles into her seat at the dim sum palace, she thinks about her four daughters and why they never agree.

“Should I stay home this evening or should I go to my granddaughter’s violin recital?  Who in their right mind thought music lessons were a good idea for her anyway?

Sigh, it wasn’t really the poor little girl’s fault.  But then again, Yvonne wasn’t really her grandmother.

Clearly, Yvonne is not so much strange as she is just complex. Like most humans.

Like every one of your funders.


How well do you know your funders?

Where your big grant idea should start

We all need to know our funders so that we can create proposals they will want to support. This is why the Grantstacking Sequence is so powerful.

It doesn’t start with the project.  Or you.

It starts with the funder.

That means the tools you use to build relationships – the daily social media things you do like Twitter or Instagram, weekly rehearsal or workshop updates, the scheduled performances or exhibitions, the conversations — all contribute to attracting a growing base of funders and fans. As that base grows, you learn more about their particular passions, missions, needs, wants, hopes, and frustrations.

That information allows you to build a portfolio of that funder and what is important to them.  When you subtly acknowledge that portfolio in your relationship building, it allows you to create proposals they actually want to grant money for.

Here’s the secret:  What you know is not as compelling as how much you care.


Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Theodore Roosevelt

Think of it as “walking in someone else’s shoes” or “entering the conversation that is already going on in a person’s heart.”

The successful grantwriters who address these feelings in their projects will rise to the top of the pile effortlessly … without seeming to blatantly pitch anything at all.

When you get it right, you become part of the funder’s narrative


You’ve seen it in advertising.  When it is done right, it hits you and you say, “Wow, they really know me”.

They are the commercials that make you smile or cry. They are the ads that zero in on your emotions.

This is a story about a father using technology to record his emotional connection as a father – his pride, joy, wonder, humility – all the things we respond to.

Does it blatantly pitch Google?

No.  It positions Google as a partner to all fathers who share these emotions.

With Google, the product is part of the narrative.

Does this approach work? Yes, it does.

It is common marketing wisdom: emotional ads outperform informational ones by 19 percent.


Introducing the Two Sentence Lens

The only problem is that you, as a working artist, don’t have the time or resources to experience all of your funders’ thoughts, feelings, and attitudes. So, you have to find another way to experience these qualities: research.

How do you cut to the chase?

This first sentence will clarity the funder’s needs and wants and help you to establish deep and personal empathy with them.

My funder needs a better way to__________________ .  


This second sentence you may have to repeat several times until you drill down to the real emotional reason this is important to do.  Think of the Google video.  “Google helps fathers by helping them record their emotions of every special moment of being a father to share with their family”

This helps others by_____________________.


Who are my funders?

Identify who might be a funder or a fan of yours. Here are some people to think about:

  • Funders you have researched
  • Funders and supporters of other artists you admire
  • Attendees of award events, gallery openings, premieres, fundraisers,
  • Local legislators
  • Local businesses, chambers of commerce, utilities and banks
  • Emerging millennial leaders
  • Local and mainstream media

Make a list.

At the bottom of the list, draw two boxes: “The 2:00 am Worry” and “The Big Dream.”

In “The 2:00 am Worry” box,  you put your funders’ challenges and frustrations.

Ask, “What keeps them up worrying at 2:00 am?’” _________________________________________



In “The Big Dream” box, write down mission and the goals your funders hope to accomplish.


Ask, “What drives my funder to get up in the morning?” and “What are her hopes and dreams?” _______________________

Make sense?


You need to know this


“Such detailed work is overwhelming!  I’m an artist, I don’t have time for this!”

Trust me, this is not research overkill.

None of it will go to waste. In fact, research will help you define and redefine your funder over time. And you can never know too much about people who give you money.

You need to constantly do research. That’s how you crawl into your funder’s head.


Your turn …

There is more than one way to research your funders, and this is just one of many.

What other methods have you used? Let’s continue the discussion in the comments.

In some cases, you can develop a relationship with your funders by becoming part of their world for several days, weeks, or months.

For example, at Queens Council on the Arts,  just about every successful artist who we we work with attended workshops and events that we presented both before they received a grant from us and afterwards.  They are front of mind for other opportunities that pop up.

We appreciate your participation in our activities as an artist and more importantly, as a peer model to other artists.

We are partners in your success with because we empathize.

We’ve been there, and will be there, every day.

Here’s what I have for you


I am finishing up a special report that will put together all of the information we covered in the Grantwriting 101 Tutorial.

It is the best advice you can get about writing a winning grant from an experienced grant panelist.


I am here to give you the tools, strategies and thinking you need to create proposals that win award letters and to build a creative business.

I have over 15 years experience as the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts, as a grantmaker and a grant panelist for foundations, philanthropies & corporations around the country

And what is more important is that I am passionate about helping artists like you create a rich life.

I am on a mission to make you the best candidate for a grant by pulling back the curtain on what really happens when a grant panel meets.

Who else can give you that invaluable rare peek into a panelist’s thinking?

Not only will you get all of the information from the teleseminar calls, you will also get:

  • exclusive interviews with prominent funders
  • a resource guide of websites and services to put everything you need to write a winning grant at your fingertips

I want all of you to be confident about your ability to make art and create your rich life now.

This report will keep you on track on that path to success.

If you want us to let you know as soon as this special report is ready, just click below.