Serena Jetelina is Crusade for Art's Marketing Guru and one of the people who helped determine the ten finalists for the Crusade Engagement Grant (finalists will be announced Thursday). Read about her experience below.

I love ideas.  One of my favorite things to do is immerse myself in a full-out brainstorming session, drawing out elements and aspects of ideas and crafting a workable plan of action that everyone is happy with.  While I’ve sat down with numerous serial and hopeful entrepreneurs to hear business ideas, this was my first time reading through grant proposals.  I found I needed to shift my method of inquiry and analysis a bit, as well as my mental process; reading through so many ideas at once was a little overwhelming, though exciting.  For this particular grant proposal review process I focused on a few key elements in order to narrow the field. 

1)   Relevancy – Does the idea address the main goals of our objectives and follow the guidelines for the grant?

2)   Clarity –Are all facets of the idea being effectively communicated in a concise and straightforward manner? Is it evident that the writer clearly thought the idea out?  I’m big on being able to state your intentions clearly and cohesively. 

3)   Reach/Scope/Impact – How many people will be positively affected by this idea? Will more awareness be brought to the photography community and art world through the implementation of this idea?

4)   Creativity – Has it been done before?  If so, how does this improve upon what has already been done?  What is the success rate of similar ideas?

5)   Feasibility – Can this idea be brought to fruition with the available resources (budget/team/timeframe/location/etc)?

6)   Future Potential – Is this idea replicable or a one-time effort? Does this idea have potential to be relevant to future generations or will it have a short life span?

I read through each proposal multiple times, gaining more insight each occasion than I previously had.  This stage of the application process is so fun, because the ideas are still in hatchling form.  You can see the potential for what might be, but it’s still just a rough outline.  I used the above elements as a cursory way to see who I wanted to hear more from – what ideas I thought had the ability to be fleshed out on a more concrete level. Some ideas or art projects I absolutely loved on a personal level, but I didn’t feel like they fit any of the criteria.  This turned out to be one of the things I enjoyed most about this process, because I learned about new artists and projects that I will now follow.

For me, it’s always difficult to shut doors on ideas or thoughts, but it’s a necessary step in order to actually make progress.  I’m very happy with the initial first round of reviews and with whom we’ve chosen to hear more from.  Onward to the next round!