Receive a compliment? Ask for it in writing!

Margaret Malone (pictured above) shares three tips on grant writing in a letter to Gigi Rosenberg.

When I receive a compliment, I usually blush, stammer “Thanks” and forget about it. Last time this happened, I had run into author Margaret Malone (, author of People Like You, and she mentioned how much she enjoyed the Grant Writing for Artists workshop she’d taken with me years before. But this time, after I got back to my office, I wrote her an email and asked if she could write me a testimonial and a few months later, this lovely letter arrived.

I’m copying it here because she mentions 3 tips you might want to use AND it’s a great reminder that when someone compliments you, don’t be shy: ask them to put it in writing. Hearing her words was one thing but having this letter from her means so much more to me and now I can use it to inspire and teach others. 

Malone went on to win several grants (see details below). Her three tips include:

1 Use active language
2 Let your first draft rest before editing
3 Find and know how to use a buddy

What other tips have helped you? Please reply in the comments. I’d love to hear!

This is how Margaret used these tips:

Dear Gigi, 
My husband and I both attended a workshop put together by RACC [the Regional Arts & Culture Council] over ten years ago. Neither of us had ever applied for a grant for our creative work (he is a filmmaker) but we both knew we needed to start if we were going to follow this path.

We went to your workshop and two things I remember the most (and that I still use today) were first, the importance of writing your grant with “active” language that assures the grant panel you’ll be moving forward with the project you seek funding for with or without their funding. This was key, in terms of a well-written grant, and also turned out to be good psychological advice: it forced me to keep myself on track and acknowledge that I needed to continue with the project with or without funding and do the work, no matter what.

Second thing that stuck with me was the importance of writing a draft of the grant and then putting it away for a little bit before coming back to it to make changes – this ALWAYS makes the grant better, this breathing time – it is so much easier to see the grant from a panel judge’s point of view when there is some distance between writing it and submitting it. Really great guidance.

I didn’t go on to win the first grant I applied for, but I did connect up with another artist who attended that workshop and we started meeting up to trade drafts of grants and get feedback from each other (she is a painter who has since gone on to win many grants and fellowships as well from what I can tell by her bio). That was hugely helpful too.
Since then I’ve been awarded two fellowships, three professional development grants, and two project grants from local and state agencies.

You put all of that in motion for me a decade ago. Thank you so much!!!

Margaret Malone

Gigi Rosenberg is an author, artist coach and editor of Professional Artist. She wrote The Artist’s Guide to Grant Writing (Watson-Guptill) and coaches artists to help them find funding, blast through creative blocks and launch vibrant marketing plans. Follow her on Twitter @gigirosenberg or on Facebook at GigiRosenberg/Author. To sign up for her smart, art-filled news, visit or email her at [email protected]