Phyllis Martin’s grant writing tips

Phyllis Martin (AKA Truffle Pig) provided the following resources for circus practitioners in the USA to use.  These are primarily focused on grant writing rather than soliciting private donations.


Three Truffle Pig blogs aimed at artists and leaders considering grant writing for the first time – Pizza is about building a funding package and Arrow is about making your project has the right balance of elements. Top Three Barriers is pretty much just that.

Truffle Pig: Top three barriers The three things that make grant writing difficult

Truffle Pig: The arrow What makes a fundable project, Part I

Truffle Pig: The pizza What makes a fundable project, Part II


Phyllis writes: Most of these were written without many sources. Personally I have succeeded by drawing comparisions to dance for high arts funders, highlighting non-competitiveness and health benefits for wellbeing focused funders, appeal to girls for funding focused on increasing female participation / improving health, the opportunity for a career in youth work / teaching / performing for employability focused funders. Breaking down the needs of a circus group into equipment, space, staff and money usually helps, sponsorship is suitable if the group has access to some significant promotional channels.

Robertson Trust for Truffling for a young emerging artist training program

Young Start employability program for young people

Northern Scottish Touring Fund was a commission for a show but contains language and arguments about circus as an excellent audience engagement tool and the logistical requirements of delivering with rural partners.
Shetland Local Action Group Phyllis says “This is an interesting example because we were applying for money to go and develop a small circus club, this could be an interesting model for AYCO supporting small groups. They then didn’t give us the money because they wanted the group to apply and the group didn’t have the confidence to, but they backed the project itself!”

Active Nation Small grant, similar to what a small organization in the US might write for a short social circus program.

GYC / CYC for Glasgow Commonwealth Games

Phyllis writes: “The GYC / CYC application was a big one, £100,000 for a high level programme that became the Commonwealth Youth Circus but it does have language in about circus as engagement, the relevance of it for public space and community. I have included the budget, organisational diagram and timeline that accompanied this one as I think convincing and clear versions of these documents are essential to successful applications.”

Commonwealth Youth Circus budget

Commonwealth Youth Circus timeline

Commonwealth Youth Circus structure