Sunday, September 18, 2011

Writing Funding Applications

Last week I was part of the Strategic Development Initiative Fund adjudication team, which basically means I was locked in a room with a bunch of people and we had to review and discuss funding applications for special heritage-related projects.  We then individually scored each application, the scores were averaged, and the highest scoring proposals will be recommended to the Heritage Minister for approval.
This was my first time adjudicating funding proposals - until now I've always been on the author end of them.  I thought it might be helpful for people to hear a first-time adjudicator's perspective, so here are some thoughts that popped into my head as I was reading & reviewing all of these applications.
  1. Always read through the application guide with a fine-toothed comb.  Highlight whatever it says is required.  Give your proofreaders this list of requirements.

  2. Ask at least two people to proofread your application.

  3. Talk to the funding program coordinator before you submit your application.  Ask questions, share your thoughts & plans, and listen to their feedback.  If they offer to read your proposal and provide feedback, don't say no.

  4. Be succinct and structure the application in a very straightforward way: project overview, brief background info, project goals, methodology, and deliverables, evaluation process, budget, and appendices.

  5. Think about the big picture and don't assume the adjudicators know what's going on with your organization.  How will this work set you up for bigger and better things?  If it's Phase 2 or 3 of a project, give a very brief outline of previous work that has led you to this point.  If the work is part of a long-term plan, attach the plan as an appendix so the adjudicators can get the whole story and where you're at in the process.  This shows how organized and professional you are.

  6. Name any employees/consultants you want to hire, and attach résumés, quotes, and/or letters of agreement.  This lets the adjudicator know that you've done your homework and you can hit the ground running if your application is approved.

  7. Check your math and then check it again.  If you mention any numbers in the application text, make sure they match what's in your budget sheet.

  8. For funding programs that require a certain percentage of cash contribution from the applicant, it always looks better if you exceed the minimum requirement.  The higher the contribution, and the more partner organizations putting in cash, the better you look.

  9. Try to get letters of support from your community - the mayor, chamber of commerce, school principals...whoever makes sense for your proposed work.  These can be attached as appendices.

  10. Spelling and grammar counts!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

August 2011 Update

Database Renewal Project
Guess what?!  We're done!!  Everyone has been migrated into CollectiveAccess and the first celebratory cake has been eaten.  It's very surreal after actively working on the migration portion of the project for the past 9 months.  We (ANSM & Whirl-i-gig staff) are rather proud of ourselves and a little in awe of how smoothly it all went, and would like to thank everyone for their support, patience and understanding.
As our former intern Alexandra put it, "time for another monster project, I guess!"  Yup, sounds about right.  So soon we'll be turning our focus toward the public website, aka Database Renewal Phase II.  Yes we are gluttons for punishment, or perhaps just overachievers, but by next fall we'll be ready to launch a great new website featuring the collections of Nova Scotia museums. 
For anyone who has not yet renewed their ANSM membership, keep in mind that you need to do this in order to continue in the database program as it is a service offered to ANSM members only.  Membership packages were mailed out over the summer so if you did not receive one or have questions, please call the office.

By the Numbers
We have almost 180,000 object records in the database system, and over 35,000 images.  This means that since last year an additional 13,000 object records have been entered.  So every time that you log in and see your nice counts widget, remember that you're feeding into something much larger than your individual museum.
In  previous posts I have tallied our collective contributions to Artefacts Canada by region.  So in keeping with that tradition, here is a tally from our new CollectiveAccess system:
Southwest - 83,347 artifacts, 15,901 images
Central - 36,609 artifacts, 6,563 images
Northeast - 30,427 artifacts, 11,645 images
Cape Breton - 21,855 artifacts, 2,642 images

Congrats to the Southwest region for holding the top spots for number of records and images! Special mention to the Northeast region for having over 1/3 of their images attached!!  Way to go!

Remember that if all goes according to plan we'll be launching the public website in September 2012, so that gives you one year to work on your records & images before they go live.  As you work on the fancy and fun new system, think about the public perception of your records, and what people will expect to be complete and accurate.  Please review your entries and use the spell check feature like it's going out of style.  If your visitors are always asking you "how old is that?" then try to narrow down the begin & end dates.  If they always ask "what does the makers mark look like on the bottom of that plate?" then make sure you get some nice detail shots of the various marks & labels on your artifacts.  If you have questions about artifact photography or scanning (or anything at all), please call the office.  We want to make sure we present your collection to the world in the best possible light (pun intended).

Site Visits
August was an insane month of driving from one end of the province to the other, but it was great to see everyone.  I visited 22 museums and trained over 30 people on CollectiveAccess.  This means that site visits are almost done for the season, and that summer is unfortunately nearing its end.  Thanks to everyone for all your hospitality and good conversation.  Let's do it again next year!
I know I quickly fell behind in my travelogs, but don't worry, I have lots of photos and tidbits to share over the fall.

QR Code Usage Stats
After an exciting increase in July usage, August went back down to only 230 hits.  The Halifax area museums are still maintaining steady use, but rural usage is very hit or miss.  While I'm not ready to declare a final verdict yet, I've been casually analyzing all the data for trends.  We'll watch for another couple of months and then formulate some conclusions.

New Faces
As many of you have already heard, we have a new face in the ANSM office.  Chris has joined us for his final term of Fleming College's Collections, Conservation and Management Program - the dreaded internship.  He'll be around until Christmas, and will be helping out with all sorts of tasks, one of which is creating more online resources for the ANSM website.  If you need a particular sample form, policy, or tip sheet, feel free to place your request with Chris.  He can be reached by phone at the office and by email at project[at]  I'll be dragging the poor boy around the province as I finish up site visits, and he'll also be putting in random appearances at meetings and workshops, so feel free to introduce yourself and show him how friendly we are on the East Coast.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Introducing Mr. Selman

Hi everybody!  My name is Chris, and I’m very excited to be in Nova Scotia to work as part of the Association of Nova Scotia Museums team for the next four months.  This internship is the final requirement for completing the CollectionsConservation and Management (CCM) Program at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario.

I grew up in rural Ontario in a place called Prince Edward County (about 2 hours east of Toronto), and minus some time served in Peterborough during school months (four years at Trent University and one year at Fleming College) have lived there my entire life- until now.  Not a whole lot to do in rural Ontario…played hockey a fair bit, exhibited chickens/ducks/pigeons at shows, and spent a lot of time reading or wandering around the farm (being an only child and having friends that live a ½ hour car ride away will do that).

It was all that reading that got me hooked on history.  It was my favourite subject all through school, so it was natural that I decided to major in it at university- which I really enjoyed.  The only downfall of a history degree is the whole “using it to find a job” problem that emerges afterwards. 

That led me to CCM at Fleming.  The program was very “hands-on,” and practical learning assignments (and this internship) will, hopefully, lend themselves to addressing the “using it to find a job” problem (I’ll let future Chris deal with that for now though).  Right now, again, I’m just really excited to be here.  I’ve never been to the East Coast of Canada before, so everything is new- which is pretty exciting (and a little intimidating).  I’ve toured around a little bit on my way down here from Ontario, I have weekends off, and Karin is going to let me tag along on some site visits, so hopefully I can see as much of the province as I can before my internship is over and future Chris has to start worrying about new things.  I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible and visiting your sites!