How to Write (and Get) That Grant
Every single rejection letter that you get is an archival document of the effort that you put in there to make your idea happen. It's a really important document guys really, really important. So celebrate your rejections.
Applying for grants can be a long process, but they can be a great way to find funding for your podcast.
In this episode, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams talks about how to figure out which grants to apply for and shares some of the lessons that she’s had to learn the hard way.
I’m Tanzina Vega, and this is Werk It: the Podcast, a compilation of some of the best moments from the live event.
This presentation was part of I Know How to Do That, a series of hands-on workshops led by leading hosts and producers where they shared tips, stories and knowledge about all aspects of podcasting.
Juleyka Lantigua-Williams: Good morning, Brooklyn! Hi beautiful ones. I pace, so I really cannot even pretend to stand behind that thing. I will come back and forth and caress the computer as necessary. Thank you. Thank you so much for being here this morning. Is everybody having a good time so far? Yes! I know it's my first Werk It and I'm like when's the next one? So I'm very very excited. My name is Juleyka. I should have said that when I started. I am allowed to talk to you about grant writing because I have written grants, I have been rejected for grants, and I have received grants. So multiplicity of experiences. But more importantly I'm a big, big advocate in spending other people's money to do good work.
You feel me right? Yes! And I've also you know just feel like -- I know this is a cliche, but if I can get a grant, you can get a grant. Honestly you really can. There aren’t a lot of us asking for grants and this is part of the secret to getting the grant that probably a lot of you have never even thought about getting a grant. And then how are they going to know that you deserve to get a grant? Right? So today I hope that we do two things. One: I hope that I encourage you to go out and apply for grants and two: I want to demystify a little bit about the process of grant making.
All right. So a little bit about that chick. She is my representative.
She spent 18 years in legacy media everything from Random House to The Atlantic to NPR did a bunch of magazines edited books all kinds of things. And then last year she came to the conclusion that she doesn't play well with others and she'd rather build her own sandbox and invite her friends to play with her. And so she literally says she started her own company and it's been unbelievable in the very literal sense. Like I can't believe they're amazing year that we've had.
We have launched four original podcasts and we have assisted in the production of four other podcasts. And I want to do more. Basically this is the most addictive thing that I've ever done. And like, my my my vision, my dreams, my daydreams do not fit the hours of the day, but I'm pacing myself.
So really quickly, our original podcasts our first one was ‘Shot Caller’ which is really fun. It's somebody has heard ‘Shot Caller’? Oh I love you. It is a podcast hosted by a master cocktail -- uh, no she has a mixologist, a master mixologist in New York City and a pop culture writer. It is all about high end liquor culture: we talk distillers, we talk to sommeliers, we talk to people who know so much about everything related to high end liquor and every show includes a craft, one of a kind of craft recipe cocktail -- that's the best part of a show. So if you want to know where that is just fast forward to like minute 23.
Latina to Latina. It's a show that we launched we helped launch at Bustle last summer and then Bustle passed on it, basically, after they did a pilot season. So Alicia Menendez, the creator, and I decided we’ll take it. So we now own it and it is being produced. It’s weekly. It's incredible interviews with the most amazing Latina women across multiple industries and it's just amazing the feedback that we've gotten. People are like calling and crying, saying that they wish they had had this. They're making their daughters listen to it, making their mothers listen to it. And it's wonderful.
We are producing Key Conversations. We launched this for Phi Beta Kappa which, by the way, I keep telling people to register on the AIR Media dot org talent directory. Please, please register on the AIR Media that are talented directory. They found me and hired me because I was listed on the directory. OK. I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to be out there and in sort of like a network that is legit that all the people can come and find you.
And then lastly but definitely not leastly our biggest show that we've done so far is 70 Million. 70 Million is an original show that I conceived looking at how criminal justice change is being done from the ground up I'm so I had just come off of being the criminal justice reporter at The Atlantic and it's something I'm very very passionate about because, as many of you know, it's modern day slavery. It's legalized modern day slavery.
And so I was just really incensed with the more I wrote, the more I reported on it. And so when I started my company I knew that this was something that we were going to take on. And so I sent a cold e-mail to the MacArthur Foundation. I did because I’m ballsy like that.
And I also know you know probability 50/50 chance someone is going to say yes or no to everything. So I was like I like those odds. So I sent a cold e-mail to someone I had met two years before through my Atlantic work and I said, ‘hey I don't know if you remember me but I'm that reporter who's been covering criminal justice for a while. I know that you guys like to do stuff for criminal justice. I have an idea for you. I've been checking out what you guys have been doing around the country. I think it's super interesting, but I think you need to reach the masses. And I think I know how you can do that.’ Then I went I was, like, “Oh God.” This is just you know just a prayer that you send up. I got an e-mail the same day, passed out, and the person was like ‘Of course I remember you did excellent work. But above I'm traveling for two weeks. I'll have my secretary set up a call.’ Set up the call and then for two weeks I basically acted like I was going to defend my doctoral thesis on criminal justice. Literally. There was there wasn't anything that had happened in the previous six months in criminal justice that I was not up on, my statistics were on. I had all kinds of cheat sheets in front of me on my desk like I was ready to present this idea.
I also had at that point really really mapped out what the idea was going to look like. So I get on this call and I thought I was going to talk one-on-one to this person. She puts me on speaker and there are four other people in the room. So I had not visualized that, right. I was doing a lot of visualizations to get ready for this phone call. That is not how I visualized it. But hey I got one shot right. So, of course, thank you so much. I write down everybody's name and sort of like try to figure out where in the room they are. And we go into it. We have the conversation. I have everything in front of me. They're asking all kinds of questions about podcasts.
The youngest person in the room is a journalist, someone from the journalism division who had sort of been a media a little bit. She understood. She listened to podcasts. She was like 30 and so she got it basically. It was wonderful. She kept translating to them in the room what I was explaining. And it was great. And so they liked the concept for the show, very much.
And they liked the idea of reaching the masses because most of their work really is focused on people who -- they are preaching to the choir. And I sort of said that I said you guys know this about your work you're preaching to the choir and we need to reach the masses. And so they said OK why don't you send us a concept paper. And I was like bet.
I did not know what that was but I have Google. So I said, ‘yes when is this concept paper due?’ and they were like, ‘Well how about a month from now. And I was like absolutely. Thank you so much. I am so excited about the possibility of writing this concept paper for you. Have a wonderful weekend. I'm going to go dive into this concept paper. Have a wonderful weekend.” Google: what is a concept paper plus PDF. This is a trick that journalists use all the time. When you do a google search add a plus sign and the word PDF to it. It cuts out a bunch of crap and then it brings up documents that are actually more legit because they're usually done by institutions and people who are actually knowledgeable about what they're doing.
So I do my usual trick and I'm like ok concept paper. What is that?
So the concept paper is basically five pages, 10 max. I would keep it to five where you use a slightly academic, slightly marketing writing style. And this is really important. Really, really important right. This is not a PR play. This is not a sales pitch. This is really an intellectually engaging dialogue with the potential funder. Right?
So you don't want to start off by saying I'm going to write the next “Serial.” This is not what this is not going to work right. I'm going to write the next “Daily.” You're not going to do that. Right. And they're not going to they're not going to pay you to produce that. What you want is to write something that says to them: I have found a way to amplify your values and your message digitally, using audio storytelling, using innovative storytelling telling techniques, and in a way that is accessible and free to the public. Right. That has to be way at the top of your proposal. Right. Because most of these foundations want something that will reach the masses. Why? Because it makes them look good that they're educating the public. Most of them exist solely for that reason. And so this is where data comes in. I talked a lot about data in yesterday’s presentation. But, ladies, I cannot emphasize how important it is for you to use data, right? So right after you sort of give the summary paragraph about what the podcast is, you have to go into 12 percent of Americans, 12 (years) and older have listened to a podcast -- or whatever the percentage is -- have listened to a podcast in the last 12 months. On average, women listen seven and a half hours a week blah blah blah blah. You have to go into that because most of them they've never listened to a podcast they’ve never heard of a podcast.
Okay then the next obvious question is, ‘Why you?’ right. Why are you the right person to do this? Right. And this is a little bit tricky. In my case, it was really easy. I already had a track record covering criminal justice. I had just come from NPR being the head producer at Code Switch and you know I could say, “Well I happened to have existed you know the cross-section of criminal justice and digital audio for the last two years. And so I think that qualifies me. But more importantly I know how to translate information for the public right.”
This is where you have to show off those skills. And you have these skills right. You have the ability to translate complex information for mass consumption. You've got to put that in there. You've got the ability to find a central character that you can utilize to tell a universal story. You've got to put that in there. You have the ability to talk to people for hours at a time and then synthesize that into the most useful information. These are the things that make you stand out because you've been doing this right. So you've got to put that in the ‘Why me?’ part of the proposal.
The next thing the concept paper is going to ask is basically: is someone else doing this also? And how are they doing? Right. So these are called comps in most presentations. So you've got to go look at other places, whether it's podcasts, whether it's online, whether it's in TV, whether it's documentaries. So my comps were “13.” The documentary by Ava DuVernay. That was one of my comps and I was like, ‘That was amazing. Right. And this is exactly the kind of investigative work that we need to be doing.” Another one of my comps was “Reveal.” They've done some really fantastic work in criminal justice reporting. I put that in there. And every time with every one of my comps, I would say, “This is why they are amazing, but this is how my show will be different.” Right. This is the most important part of that because you could probably list you know 25 places that have touched upon the thing that you want to be doing. But what you have to do is with every single one of them is remind them, “But they're missing something and that something is what I'm going to bring to the table.” Right. And so I was really thorough in that part of the of the concept paper.
The next part of the concept is going to be the how. How are you going to do this, right? Like is this is going to be you and a mic out in the field? Is this going to be you and a producer and an editor...Is this...Here it's really really important for you not to short sell, sell yourself short, not to sell yourself short. And admittedly I did that when I put in the grant. I will admit to it and it cost me. It literally cost me because my company ended up having to put more money into the show, which you know I was prepared to do. But I did not anticipate all of the areas in which I was going to need support. You've got to list everything on there. Right. Like legitimately stuff right. So travel money, studio money, you know honoraria for when your producers are out in the field you know, the rate that I gave my producers is twenty five dollars when you're in your own city fifty dollars when you're not in your city for food coffee whatever you need. Right. You've got to put in there for equipment. I did not have a line for equipment!
That eye roll was for me. Why did I not have a line for equipment? Because I was like, well, I'm going to hire these freelancers they're going to have their own equipment. Yes. But they did not have the best equipment. Right. I did not have a line in there for graphic design. Wow. I know. Again you've got to put everything in there and there's a handout that kind of looks like this, which is a pretty much nuts and bolts of what you should have in there.
OK. This is a list which you guys will get. I'm not going to go through the list. It's a sample list. There are hundreds and hundreds of foundations, private funders, all kinds of people who are ready to give you grants. So I've got links to it in there. All this stuff is in there for you guys to look at. There are some incubators also that you should be applying to.
Oh, the other thing is that you need to do is you have to apply, and apply, and apply again. You really do because this is what happens: You send in your application the first year. It's very competitive. You don't make it. You send that in the next year and the people go: oh I remember. She sent in an application last year and it was great. Aha! You just gave yourself an advantage. Right.
The other thing that happens is that when funders plot out their funding year, they make some thematic decisions ahead of time. Right. And so maybe your idea just wasn't right for the theme for that year. You have no way of knowing that. But maybe your idea is perfect for the theme next year. Right. And funders don't care if you apply 17 times. They really don't care, right. Because they're looking at every single idea individually. So you've got to not take that rejection letter personally. I wrote a whole thing on Medium if you want to find that about how you should celebrate your rejection letters because it means you're actually doing shit. No literally. It is a document of your effort. Every single rejection letter that you get is an archival document of the effort that you have put in there to make your idea happen. It's a really important document, guys. Really, really important. So celebrate your rejections. I keep all my rejection letters when they come in e-mail. I don't do paper files. I just. I just made that decision when I started my company. I was like I'm not finding anything by paper. Everything has to be electronic. We're going to be a green company as much as we can.
OK so so we've got the why, the what, the who, the when. The timeline is really really important. OK. Foundations work on a really slow calendar. OK. So there is no reason for you to say that you're going to get this done in three weeks or in three months. Right. Take your time. Give yourself a realistic, right, timeline. And also give yourself a little bit of a buttress right so in case stuff happens. I had to kill three episode ideas during the making of 70 Million. One of them was really easy. When the proposal came in from the freelancer, it just wasn't there. OK here's your kill fee right. Another one, we sent someone out into the field for a week. she did a bunch of interviews and the place that we wanted to include just really wasn't doing anything that we were like. It's not, you know, it's not up to par. Had to kill the right. So you've gotta give yourself that room to do that.
So if you're proposing if you're asking for money for a pilot don't give yourself less than six months to do a pilot. If you're asking for money to do a six to 10 episode season, don't give yourself less than a year to do that. Okay. And then be up when you in the time that you submit be very spacious. Right. So in the time that I submitted I did it in quarters. So in the first quarter of 2018 we're going to do these things, in no particular order. In the second quarter of 2018, we're going to do these things in no particular order. Right. Because they're not going to sit there and check it off as you're doing it. They just want to see that you have a clear path to success. Right. So be very, very generous with that. OK.
So this is going to be hard because I had to tell, I had to have this conversation with myself. When you're writing the grant you have to write a role for yourself that is essentially a consulting role. You can not be the editor. You definitely can not be the producer or the mixer. You can not be the writer. You can not put yourself in the role of doing the most essential tasks. Why? Because your primary job, if you get a grant, is going to be grant administrator. And I know that that's really hard to hear because your idea might be about you. Your idea might be biographical, your idea might be something that you've been nurturing and working on for so long. Well, guess what? You're going to have to find someone you trust with that and hand it over to them. Because you have got to once you get this grant, you have got to continue to find more and more support, so that your idea doesn't die after you do this right. Because what you're getting is seed money right. If you think about the VC world, when you get a grant ,you're getting seed money. But you don't want to do this once. You don't just want to do a pilot. You actually want to launch this thing and so you've got to remove yourself from those essential roles because your job is to keep the lights on and that was super hard and it will be super hard. OK. It's not easy but it is necessary.
So I had to do that for myself. Right. But it was very easy for me because I had other projects that require my attention and I had clients at that point. So I was like I can’t throw myself into 70 Million. I'm going to lose my client if I do that right. But so what I did was I've made myself executive producer. Fancy title. Right. And then once I found my wonderful editor, she and I created the production calendar, and we found three spots into which I would come into the process. Right. And so I handed my baby over to her. And the amazing team that I picked. And then at those particular spots throughout the production, I came in. So I came in once we got a full episode reporting proposal and I read that and I gave comments. Then I came in when we got the first rough of the script for the show with all the clips. I read through, listened to that, sent comments to her. And I communicated directly to her. I did not communicate to her team. I handed it over to her, so I communicated directly to her. So I came in at that point at that point. I mean I came in when we had the first mix right. I gave lots of feedback on that first mix and then I came in like, two mixes, two drafts later, when they felt like they were the final one. And at that point, I'm just basically checking off because I've given all my feedback. Right. And so I still maintained oversight of the project right. But I just made sure that I had meaningful interactions with the project at very particular points. And that worked really well for me and it worked really well for my team because they did lots of things that they made a thousand decisions that didn't need to involve me, right. About music, about what's going to be our, you know, podcast theme, about which TV clip. I didn't mean to be involved in those. I didn't that I had spent so much time selecting the team. I trusted them implicitly.
So this is the the other big, big, big part of getting ready to do this: which is that you have to identify people who you trust with your ideas right. You have to identify people who you will hand over your baby to and you know they will be good stewards and they will be good parents to that baby. It's really, really important especially if you're in a growth mentality where you're thinking, “This is my launch show for something bigger. This is going to be my signature show for the company that I want to start. This is what's going to get me into Panoply or Pineapple or Spotify or whatever your end goal is for this thing.” You need collaborators that you trust and you need collaborators that get what you're trying to do. Can not, can not really emphasize that enough.
Find some find inspiration. We're not there yet.
Okay, a word on funder's that nobody told me and nobody tells you: funders don't want to fund 100 percent of your project. Let me repeat that: funders do not want to fund 100 percent of your project.
I learned this later. Yeah. I mean they didn't end up funding hundred percent of this because my budget was so poorly done that I ended up having to pay for parts of it right. So what funders want is to -- especially if you're asking for a substantial amount of money. Right. Like we got a hundred and eighty thousand dollars for the podcast. That's a substantial amount of money. What they want to see is that they will make a significant contribution to what you're creating but that you're also going to hustle and get other people to make contributions to it. Right. So for this -- again, when you're creating your budget, you've got to have an overall project budget and then you've got to have a budget specifically for what the funds you are requesting from the funder will cover. And there has to be a difference between those two. Between 15 and 20 percent is probably healthy. Between 25 and 30 percent is probably better for the funder. Because even if they give you 70 percent, right, of your proposed necessary budget, they can say OK well now she's going to go out and get the rest of it. Or you know she's already secured the rest of it right. Which is why, although this is not what I did -- again hindsight -- I would apply to multiple places for smaller grants. It's easier to get a check for ten thousand dollars than it is for a hundred and eighty thousand dollars. Right. And so I would put a budget together, let's say, for a pilot. Let’s use a pilot a 30 minute, scripted, partly reported, two-host episode right. I would put a budget of $30,000, for example, together for a pilot like that right. That's a very generous budget right. But again you you want to start a little high and then be scrappy when you only get $17,000. Right. So that's what you want. So if I had a $30,000 budget for for a pilot, two person, partly reported show, I would go to three or four funders and split my expenses accordingly. Right. So if I have an organization a grant that makes grants for you know women in digital media right. Send them a $9,000 to $12,000 ask. Right. That's a good ask for someone like that.
If I have a private foundation that is specifically interested in health issues, and that's what my podcast is about, I would give them a budget of $9,000 to $12,000, $15,000. Right. Because what's going to happen is for each of them in your proposal you're going to list all the places where you have already applied and they will say Oh great. Well if they go in for $12,000, I can see how easily we could come in for $9,000 right. Oh. Oh okay so they're in the process of getting this and I know that this foundation is likely to fund them. Because the other thing you don't know until you get on the other side of this world is that they all know each other. They all know each other. They email each other they talk to each other. Okay so this is another really important thing.
The MacArthur Foundation because it is the MacArthur Foundation knows everybody at Ford, knows everybody at Knight, knows everybody everywhere right. At Google, at the Microsoft Foundation, everywhere they know everybody. Right. And so if they see that you have already applied to and identify other potential sources, they might be calling that program officer and saying “Hey what are the chances that you guys are going to fund this? Because we like it. We like it a lot. And you know what they're asking seems really reasonable. So I think you know we're going to put them on the slate. How are you guys feeling about it.” These conversations actually happen. But you and I would never know that. Right. And so this is another reason that you want to make sure that you have identified multiple sources for your ask. Because foundations don't want 100% of it because their fear is that if they want 100% of it and they can't fund you again next year, it dies. They don't want to fund things that die. They want to fund things that live on that other people will come in and want to support. So that's really really really important. Sorry.
The other thing that's going to be really important for you guys, for you ladies. (Sorry, the patriarchy). The other thing that's going to be really important for you, and I really don't know how to say this in a non-New Yorker way: You have to show your faces. You have to literally show them your face. OK. Because what happens is that a grant officer looks at hundreds of grants, all printed in a eight by ten with black ink 12 -- you know, they tell you how to how to format it. So the Times New Roman, twelve point font, black and white, single spaced, yada yada yada. Right.
So what I did when I submitted my grant application I put in a whole sheet of all of the people I had already identified that would work. And big ass pictures of them. Women of Color, men of color, white people, gay people, all people, people with tans, people with curly hair people with no hair. I had the mix in there. Why? Because I may have been the only grantee to do that. And when my grant officer comes to my grant, they go “Holy moly! Look at this gorgeous tent she has assembled of experts that are going to help her with this vision that she has!” True story. I was at MacArthur doing Third Coast. I invited myself over. Because I was like, “Hey! I'm going to be over there for Third Coast let me pop in for lunch!” And they were, like, “OK weirdo.” No, I said, “And I will give you. And I will give you a midterm report.” And they’re like, “Ooh. We like this midterm report idea.” So I prepared this really really nice -- well, with Kate (my marketing guru) and I prepared this really beautiful presentation about how the show was doing. And as we were doing the presentation, of course, I always start with the beautiful picture of my team because my team is gorgeous. And the program officer -- white dude -- says to me, “You know, what's really funny?” And I said, “What's really funny? Because whatever you say to me is going to be hilarious.” Listen, use all your skills, lady. All of them. I flirt indiscriminately. Plants, bartenders, women, children. I’ve -- all the skills.
So, like, what's funny? He's like, I was in a meeting with another foundation. Ding ding ding And as an example of the kind of work that we want to support, I went to the 70 Million website and I went to the page where you have your team. And he said, and he says to me, “And I said to the person: this is what teams should look like now. Literally.”
That was one of the best compliments that I have gotten in the last year and I'm very proud of 70 Million. But the fact that this program officer MacArthur Foundation is using our team pictures on our website to say to other people: this is what a team should look like. One of the best moments of the last two years. Because I was so intentional. This is what -- Yes, clap. That deserves a clap. Thank you. That was for my team. I was very intentional in doing that and I was very intentional and a little bit sneaky in putting in their photos and bio's when they didn't ask for them. I just was like -- bing -- you need to see this because this matters. So you can do that. You know you can you can be a little cheeky when you're doing that stuff because it's in a PDF. They're stuck with it. Right. What are they going to do? Just scroll past it. OK scroll past it. No problem.
So then I. So then the other thing that is really really important, which again, they don't tell you is to communicate. Right. Grantmakers do not like to write a check and not hear from you for a year, when the report is due. So I have this massive report due February for how we spend their money and what we did. But I'm ready. Why? Because we have a boatload of analytics. We did a listener survey. We did all kinds of things to assess and ascertain how we were doing. And so we're ready for the report. So this is what I did throughout the year. We, part of the deal -- Oh, and you have to sign a contract, ladies. Okay so this the thing you need to know: A grant has a legally binding contract. You've got to read that. And if you don’t understand it, you've got to read it with the lawyer. OK so spend the 250 dollars in the consultation with the lawyer. I didn't need to. I've been a paralegal in a former life at a corporate law firm in New York, and I've been managing editor, so I've been around contracts my entire career. And the contract is really, really binding. Very, very serious stuff. So when you get that, don't just sign it and send it back. You need to sit with it. You need to ask questions. So, for example, our contract does not allow us to make any profit off of 70 Million. I cannot make a penny off of 70 Million. And that's good. That's fine with me because it's an open source podcast. It was always intended to be open source. It's for the public to utilize. Right. However, it does not bar me from trademarking 70 Million. So I've trademarked it, right. And I was very clear about asking this at the beginning right. Because we could have a 70 Million documentary. We could have a 70 Million Amazon series. We could have a 70 Million series of workshops on instructions. I could build a curriculum around 70 Million. What I cannot do is make money off of the podcast. So these are the kinds of things that are really really important to know.
All right, I've got my 10 minute warning, so I would like to stop and take questions. Because that's way more important than any other anecdote that I can share with you. Well there's mics because I think they want them -- yeah, go to the mics please. And ask the question really quickly so we can get as many as possible. Hi.
Question: Hi. I've been looking for grants for a podcast I want to start. But I've found that the vast majority of money available is not available to individual artists. It’s available to organizations. And I know you can partner with organizations but I'm wondering about that process. And did they get a lot of your money?
Answer: No no. So this is great. Perfect question. So one of the things I haven't I haven't touched upon is something called fiscal sponsors. And again I learned this this year. So fiscal sponsors are organizations that exist to be bridges between the creators and the grantmakers. And they take between five and 10 percent off the top. But when you do your budget, you do a line item for the fiscal sponsor fee. Foundations see this every day. They're very used to paying that fee. So if you have a project. Right. So, for example, women make movies. I'm an executive member. The company. An executive member of Women Make Films. And we are in talks with them about being our fiscal sponsor for our documentary, a separate one, that I want to make right. So when I did my budget and my treatment for the documentary, I put in a percent cut right of my overall budget. Right. And so if you have an idea and you're not an LLC and you're not incorporated, see if you can find a fiscal sponsor. There are tons of them. There's a whole website dedicated to listing them and it's searchable by category and by theme. Okay?
So find a fiscal sponsor that will sponsor your project through. And then you can ask for all kinds of grants that then they administer. With a fiscal sponsor they get your money, though. So just understand that. So they get your money. They're like your bank and you submit requisitions for advances on a budget or you submit receipts to be reimbursed. So that relationship is also contractual. And you've got to be very clear about the parameters of that relationship. But also partnering with -- so again I don't play well with others and so I am always weary of partnering with institutions, just in general. And so I encourage everyone to just become an LLC, even if it's just your name comma LLC. Because then you have legal standing. And it cost like two hundred and fifty dollars on legal zoom to do it. In most states, through the Secretary of State website, you can do it for less than that. Become an LLC. There are different ways that you can become an LLC. And this is really important because legally you want to separate yourself from the work that you're doing and protect that work.
Question: For concept papers how much should they vary if you're applying to multiple foundations? And then if you're doing it multiple years at a time how much should you change it from year to year?
Answer: So you only do a concept -- well, first of all, if you haven't done a concept paper, you should do one for yourself. Because what happens is, it forces you to get a real clear real quick about what your thing is and what it isn't. So that was one of the best things that happened to me last year. Is that having to write this concept paper in a month really forced me to sit with my idea and really work through what I wanted to be, what I didn't want it to be, where it was weak, where it was strong. So I recommend you do it.
But if you're going to apply to the foundation, I would refresh. Even if you're applying with the same project year to year, I would refresh. Because you have to show that you continued to work on it even though you didn't get funding. Right. And so if you apply this year and you don't get it, and you don't get it by next year, as a grant as a grantmaker, I'm going to expect that you at least figure out a way to do a trailer, two minute trailer. Right. Like, that's not a big ask in a year you can manage to do a trailer. 50 bucks here. 100 bucks here. Like you can piece it together. Right. And so you have to show that you are still making progress even though you didn't get the funds. But if you're applying to multiple places at the same time with the same project, you're probably going to get money from somewhere to do a pilot, you know. Or to do a capsule episode -- 8 to 12 minutes. OK. Next.
Question: Before you shifted to the questions you were about to say what you did throughout the year for your funder.
Answer: What was I about to say, guys?
Question: You were just, what you said, your show, but the report at the end of the year but throughout the year you communicate.
Answer: Yes. Thank you. So I kept sending them unsolicited updates. And I came up with a really clever format for that. And -- don't do this unless this is your sense of humor, okay? This is my sense of humor right. So, for example, I would put the director's name and then her staff name and then I would say “Thanks for the salad!” in the header. Instant click. What salad? “I'm so looking forward to seeing you in Chicago in a few months. Can't wait for that salad we’re going to enjoy.” They eat a lot of salads at the MacArthur Foundation. And then I would say, “And since you are here, let me tell you how well this episode is doing!” Real quick. A 30 second email. I would send us, I would send those like every six to eight weeks. You know. Another one would be like “You look awesome today.” “Hey. You do! You put yourself together so well every morning. You're rocking it. By the way we just got such a such or such impressions because of this.” Right. Do that. They often reply with just a smiley face or ha ha ha ha. But they love those. They're not intrusive. I'm not asking them to do anything on my behalf. I'm not asking for anything. And every e-mail always ends with “We're changing the world. I am so proud of the work we are doing. Thank you for so many ways that you support us. Peace.” Every single e-mail.
Question: So I have a question about team building. Obviously---
Answer: That's a separate workshop, honey.
Question: But obviously if the grant application process is very long I'm curious about how you can. At what point do you start to build the team before after the grant. And how do you keep them invested throughout the process?
Answer: Before. You would pay them. That's easy. You pay them. You don't ask people to work for free. You especially don't ask women to work for free. Ever. That's just irresponsible. OK. Seriously. You love your idea and you will sacrifice your limbs and your liver for it, but no one else should. Okay? So you know I have because I didn’t write myself in as executive editor to my original budget, I've worked for free for 70 Million this entire year, theoretically speaking. Because I didn't write a role for myself. Everybody else I wrote a role for, and you know on a salary for. I didn't write one for myself.
So the minute I submitted the concept paper, I just acted like it was going to happen. Because the universe has a way of conspiring to make your decisions happen. So the minute I submitted it, I was like, “Ph let's find a team to do this.” And it took four months for the entire application process to happen, from when I submitted it. Well, also, okay, so the the the concept paper I had to, I was invited to apply. This is still not official. I was invited to apply. And that was like getting the my skin ripped out, ironed, and put back in to my into myself. I had to submit all kinds of paperwork from my company, had to get a letter from the Secretary of State, had to submit a lot of back taxes. I mean, it was everything and I think they may have even checked my credit. They probably they checked my credit, which is very good. So that was very thorough. And so then I called, I called my advisory board first. And I said, “Okay, give me five names of people wanting to talk to who are freelancers. I talked to 15 people. And then I asked those people for two to three names. I talked to those people. And every person I talked to, I asked for a name. So I ended up talking to be doing 45 and 50 people to choose my core team of seven. And that took like three months.
I think we're out of time. I promise I will stand here and answer everybody else's question. Thank you so much you guys are beautiful. Byeeee.