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The Data Driven Application

Do you need to beef up your grant, fellowship, or residency application? Bulk up with data.

With grant applications, for example, I include data to prove gaps in services that, if I was awarded the grant, I could fill. For instance, I applied for a grant that serves communities-in-need. To strengthen my application, I used survey results published by a local nonprofit that actually assessed the community my application advocates for. Call it a coincidence, but this data confirmed the need for my grant application and communicated urgency.

So, how do you use data for fellowship, residency, and grant applications?

Types of Data: Pick One

  • Qualitative data demonstrates the quality of information that can be observed or recorded. Examples of qualitative data include descriptions, narratives, anecdotes, and behaviors. Example: The apple is red.

  • Quantitative data, on the other hand, is measured numerically. Example: There are two red apples. The key word here is quantity.

Which is Better?

Quantitative data, in my opinion, is stronger because numbers are indisputable. There's nothing like cold hard facts in number form. But I use both quantitative and qualitative data, if possible.

How to Find Data

  • Surveys: Ask your local arts nonprofit for published surveys, like these examples from Artist Trust and Arts Washington.

  • Annual Reports (also called Impact Reports): Most nonprofit organizations publish annual reports to demonstrate financial growth and/or losses. And sometimes they will include programmatic data. This info might be helpful if you plan to apply for opportunities at that organization. Visit the San Francisco Symphony and The Phoenix Theatre Company for a few examples of annual reports.

  • Studies: Google Scholar is a rich resource of reputable publications. Simply type key phrases and you’ll be directed to several resources.

Key Takeaways

  • Data demonstrates need and communicates urgency

  • Qualitative data is observable information

  • Quantitative data is measured numerically

  • Find data in surveys, annual reports, and published studies

Learn More

Review Grant Proposals Data Dos and Don’ts and read similar posts in the ‘Business Writing’ category of Wellness-ish-ness.


Wellness-ish-ness is a blog for creative hot messes by D.A. Navoti. Read his bio and find him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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