Getting that grant

By SOFIA AMANEE

Every day, corporate and private funders receive numerous requests for grants and sponsorship. For applicants, the difference between putting together a successful attempt or a rejected one is worrisome and stressful. Well, if you’ve ever wondered how to persuade these sponsors to choose your project, look no further.

Cendana fund recipient Wendy Teo, a chartered architect and Borneo Laboratory founder, now shares her tips and advice on how you can produce a strong and possibly winning proposal. With these clear tools and objectives, you could submit an outstanding application and improve your success rate.

Here are some key points:

Have a message to tell? Use your voice in an embracing manner

Rule No.1 – Be clear with your message or big idea. “The brainstorming stage of any creative work is usually abstract and explorative,” says Teo, but complex writing can make it difficult for the uninitiated to understand the goal of the project.

So, make your work easy for funders to interpret with an approachable presentation. If you’re concerned about whether your proposal is comprehensible, ask different people if they understand the ideas in your application. That said, Teo emphasises it is crucial to be specific about what you’re delivering.

Aside from having the right message when reaching out to appropriate funders, “You must build your voice to convince them you’re the right person to carry out the project you’re proposing,” Teo adds. You may have tons of content to share but she points out you should only present the best ones. Be realistic and have a thought-out process about the tools you’re using to show these funders what’s achievable.

Teo shares her artwork process briefly and succinctly for maximum effect.

Take your time to explore the right message for your work

Any creative or artistic work without a clear or strong message is ultimately soulless, says Teo. So, when you’re applying for funding, your submitted work must be authentic, meaningful and passionate. Show and prove to these potential funders that your ideas are special and worthy of their time and investment.

According to Teo, replicating someone else’s accomplishments is a dead end if you're serious about a long-term career in the arts. The scene is based on merit – and people remember good work. Make sure your proposal is strengthened and backed with evidence from your own creative journey instead of another person’s. Take time to explain your message and allow it to be shaped in different formats.
Teo’s projects have benefited the Borneo community.

Include your vision or a mission statement for the work

Funders can be more interested than you’d expect about how you’re going to develop your project. They may want to know the process your work has been through, what it’s going for, who designed and planned it, or where it’s been and where it wants to be located next.

So, Teo highlights that it’s important to have a general, brief or succinct introduction to your work, then you can explain your timeline in greater detail where necessary. Develop your application by including elements like your journey with the work and how you’re going to deliver it to the masses. Demonstrate clearly what funders and the public can expect from your project.

As for your video presentation, it’s the other way round – pick a concise story about your project to tell. Make it easy for them to perceive and interpret the work.

Wendy Teo butterflygarden
Keep funders updated on your progress

Yes, submitting paperwork and identifying the best approach to your proposal can be daunting. But don’t make it hard on yourself or them. “If you feel your proposal may be confusing or overwhelming, it’s a good idea to consult the organisation and clarify the nature of your issues,” Teo encourages. Most funders are happy to help. Also, keep them updated on your progress and changes to your deliverables, so they know what to expect when it’s all done and ready to go.


Wendy Teo is an accomplished architect, and founder and curator of the Borneo Laboratory. Teo applied for an individual visual artists Create Now 1.0 project under CENDANA funding programme. She shared that receiving the fund is certainly encouraging for translating and developing nine of her hand drawings forming into virtual reality exhibitions in 3Dimensional experience. With the funding, Wendy manages to have a chance to be serious about its translation into an advanced state of work. If you would like to find out more about Wendy Teo, please check out her website: https://wendyteo.com/
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