36 / CHRONICLESnnumber, “education,” present employment,ncurrent income perhaps, asnwell as a brief professional resume.nIndividual applications customarily requirenyou to submit a sample of recentnwork. In competitions for individualngrants, the winning amounts are usuallynfixed in advance, either at a singlenlevel (e.g., $20,000 in Literature at thenNational Endowment for the Arts) ornat successive levels ($5,000, $15,000,nand sometimes $25,000, as in NEA-nVisual Arts now). In nearly all competitionsnfor individual grants, the rahonof applicants to winners is at least 10 tonone; 30 to one is not uncommon.nAre there better ways to beat thosenodds?nYou can bet on horses that offernbetter odds, or, if you are desperate,nyou can rob a bank. For more modestnpurposes, you can collect unemployment,nwhich probably does more tonsupport the work of indigent individualnartists than all the arts councils combined.n(In addition to acknowledgingnthe 20th anniversary of the NEA, artistsnshould honor the 50th anniversary,nor whatever, of unemployment benefits.n) If you have the taste or talent fornbureaucratic paperwork, you would benwise to form a nonprofit organizationnor become part of one, simply becausensome petitions for its awards have farnlower odds. The trouble is that organizationalnapplications are more complicated,nbeing at least four pages innlength and requiring a detailed budgetnto justify a grant within a particularnrange. The application to the NewnYork State Council on the Arts isnespecially complicated; and to compoundnthe busywork (and deplete thenapplicants’ creative spirit even more),nNYSCA during the application cyclenissues a second set of elaborate forms,nmany of them with questions alreadynanswered on the original. All thisncomplexity looks like an insidious devicento favor two groups of people; (1)napplicants who were previously successful;n(2) the NYSCA administratorsnwho can prejudice panel decisions bynrevealing minor fault amid the mass ofndetail.nThe more complicated an applicationnform is, the more reason you havenfor wanting to examine the applicationsnof previous winners; there is, innmy experience, no better guide tonwriting your own. When you examinensuccessful applications, notice carefullynwhat claims are made, how long thenaccompanying explanations are, andnhow detailed the budget is. Somenagencies are more helpful than othersnin providing previous applications. Atna public agency such as NYSCA, allnprevious applications, of winners asnwell as losers, are fortunately kept onnfile, available for public inspectionnand even photocopying! The man inncharge is Joseph Wells, whose numbernis 212-614-2904.nBudgeting for organizational grantsnis a curious business. The NEA, forninstance, requires that its grants ben”dollar-matched” with funds obtainednfrom elsewhere. What this means innpractice is not as it seems (and probablynnot what was intended). Let’s saynyou are a small literary publisher withnnonprofit affiliation, and you calculatenthat you need $10,000 to typeset andnprint 1,000 copies of a big novel. (Thisnis cheap. A commercial publishernwould require at least $100,000 to donthe same job, because of all its overhead.)nIn order to get that 10 grandnfrom the NEA, the small press mustnestablish an expense budget of at leastn20 grand. The organization then figuresnthat if it needs that 10 grand fromnthe NEA for book production, therenmust be at least lO grand more innexpenses. In a small-press application,nthis extra 10 grand can legitimatelyninclude payments to authors and to thenpress’s editors, administrative fees, secretarialnassistance, postage, shipping,netc. Now if by good fortune then$10,000 grant comes through, allnthese “expenses” must be donated, atnleast temporarily, until there is incomenfrom sources other than the NEAngrant. In other words, one must budgetnat least $10,000 more expensesn—at least twice as much than is immediatelynnecessary—in order to getnthe $10,000 required to print thenbooks.nThe principal requirement of successfulorganization-applicationwritingnis a credible budget, wherenevery particular cost makes sense withinnthe size of the grant and the promisednresult. If, for instance, it costs anthrifty small publisher roughlyn$10,000 to typeset and print 1,000ncopies of a 500-page novel, no one onnnna selection panel can object if thenapplication allocates $10,000 for typesetting.nIf, however, an applicant publishernallocated $20,000 or onlyn$2,000 for a thousand copies of such anlong book, some panelist might objectnthat this small-press applicant was eithernextravagant or naive. (If, by goodnfortune, the applicant’s uncle happensnto be a book-printer, it would be betternto specify a credible sum [$10,000] asnthe printing cost and then list anynreduction from this norm as his dollarmatchingncontribution to the nephew.)nOn the other side of the ledger, bynthe terms of dollar-matching, an organizationnmust also posit at leastn$10,000 income from sources othernthan the NEA. This other incomenmay include grants from other agencies,nsales of books, personal contributions,netc. In some applications (and innonly some programs), the organizationnmust budget income of “in-kind contributions,”nsuch as the editorial timenof its principals, because “in-kind” hasnalways been the laudable conventionnby which poorer applicants can dollarmatch.nThe trouble is that most peoplenasked to construct an application budgetnmake the mistake of treating thenquestion personally — to make anschedule to which they will indeednhew, as they would hew to a personalnbudget of monthly expenses. That attitude,nlet me suggest, would be a mistake,nespecially in filling out an organizationalnapplication to publicngranting agencies. The first truth tonremember is that you must create ancoherent, persuasive fiction in whichnthe figures are appropriate to the scalenof the project (and the possible size ofnthe grant). It does not matter whethernyou actually expect $5,000 in immediatensales of books; if your applicationnneeds that $5,000 figure in order fornincome to match the amount requested,nthen you put down $5,000 sales.nSimilarly, your description of whatnyou want to do must create a crediblenfiction within the funding agency’snguidelines. If the funding program requiresnthat the proposed book be writtennfrom scratch, forget about all thenrough drafts you’ve been doing for thenpast decade. If it requires live performance,nforget for now about the videotapenor record you want to make fromnit. If documentary writing is required.n