Additional Guidance to Applicants
The two factors which tend to create the greatest variability in scores are “Environmental Significance” and “Project Viability.” (See Grant Criteria 5.)
- Environmental Significance refers to the proposed project, not the significance of the issue or cause being addressed. We evaluate the scope of the project, the project impact on the environment and the immediacy and timing of the project.
- Project Viability refers to the likelihood of success of the project with consideration given to the accomplishments to date, future impact, the asset base to accomplish the goals of the project and the effective use of photography.
These two factors represent 80% of the score (split evenly). The information we request in applications is meant to allow us to score these factors. We do not score what we believe to be the general merits or environmental significance of the “cause” the applicant is addressing, nor do we score the potential of the project as we imagine it. All applicants tend to pick worthy causes with great potential. The significance of the proposed project is what’s scored, not the “cause.” And we evaluate the application ONLY and what is presented therein.
There are several recurring, general flaws in applications.
- Applicants apply too early in the development and execution of their project when it is too early to tell a compelling or convincing story. The grant is for a work in progress not a future project…and projects in their infancy are unlikely to score well.
- Photographers give themselves self-assignments and then go looking for organizations and collaborators to work with or to buy into their project. Those buy-ins and collaborations are not typically well-evidenced in the application. Applications say “I’ve talked to so and so…” but they offer no commitment from “so and so” to support the project in a specific way.
- Many applications have vague or incomplete project plans without well articulated, realistic schedules, budgets or awareness of how to achieve success. For example, an applicant claims that he/she will mount a high-quality print exhibit in the spring of the following year at a museum or public facility, yet he/she hasn’t even identified or contacted any facilities as of late summer of the current year. All this, while concurrently proposing many weeks of field activity, photo editing and presentations makes the timeline unrealistic. Project management skills must be evident in the application. Another flaw along these lines is “the project that never ends.” Projects must have clear end points.
- Lack of awareness of the best target audience and a plan to reach them. Many applicants show a lack of awareness of critical decision-makers and decisions related to the subject of their project. Applicants propose to use the project photographs in general education or conservation organization presentations that basically “preach to the choir.” General public education is good but successful applicants often go beyond that to communicate with and persuade decision makers, on specific upcoming decisions, in a timely fashion.
- As a result of these flaws, the overall “environmental significance” of the project and “project viability or likelihood of success” is not convincing to the reviewers.