How to Apply for a Major Grant

We appreciate your interest in applying for a Humanities Iowa grant. As a reminder, major grants are awards of $3,001 to $10,000. If your grant request is for less than $3,000, please use the mini grant application. Media grant applications should complete the major grants form, but also consult the Special Guidelines for Media Projects. Or you are welcome to download a PDF version of those guidelines.

On this page, you will find information on how to apply for a major grant from Humanities Iowa, including the basic steps to follow in order to complete an application, the instructions for submitting the required documents, and deadlines and submission information. The online application can be accessed through the Application Checklist page.

Application Process

In order to complete an application for a major grant from Humanities Iowa, you must fill out one online form with information about your proposed program and one online form detailing information about your budget needs.

The online form for your program information—Major Grant Application: Program Details—will ask for two attachments, a PDF of your Project Narrative and a signed Agreements and Certifications form, which you will need to download, sign, and scan to a PDF. You will find instructions for drafting the Project Narrative in the following section. Download Agreements and Certifications PDF now.

Download a sample PDF of the Program Details form

The online form for your budget information—Major Grant Application: Budget Details—will ask for two attachments, as well. The first attachment is supplemental, but important, information on funding you have thus far acquired. The spreadsheet asks you to list cash contributions from private, corporate, or government, with the donor's name, the amount contributed, and whether that contribution is projected or confirmed. You will need to download this Excel spreadsheet, enter in the requested information, and upload through the online form when asked.

Download a sample PDF of the Budget Details form

The Budget Details form will ask you to upload a PDF of your Budget Narrative at the very end. Guidelines for drafting the Budget Narrative are in the following section.

Application Details


DUNS number – This is a nine-digit number assigned by Dun & Bradstreet, as part of the Data Universal Numbering System, to all organizations that may become federal grantees or contractors. An organization does not need a DUNS number to apply for a Humanities Iowa grant, but if you are awarded a grant, you will need to obtain one. This process is free and relatively simple, and our staff will be happy to help you with it.

Project Director – The person responsible for the overall management of the project, for serving as contact to Humanities Iowa, and for preparing final reports.

Authorized Representative – The person with authority to sign the application on behalf of the organization (usually the executive director, president, or board chair). The Authorized Representative and the Project Director may be but do not need to be the same person.

Operating Budget of Applicant Organization – The dollar amount of the annual operating budget of the sponsor organization. If a board-approved budget for the current fiscal year is not available, please indicate on the form.

The Project Narrative

Respond to each of the following topics in order, using no more than a total of five typed, single-spaced pages.

Applicant organization, planning committee and project director

Briefly explain why the applicant organization is particularly well suited to carry out the project. Explain the project director's role and qualifications. List any collaborating organizations and their roles in the project. Name the planning committee members and their qualifications and roles in the project. Planning Committee should include humanities scholars and community members. This is especially important for university and college applicants that must prove they have made an effort to reach out-of-school audiences.

Project Description

Describe the project, its activities and objectives. Where and when will activities take place? How will it stimulate an interest in history, literature or other humanities topics, or ideas that give meaning to our lives? What will people consider or learn? Does the project specifically address issues of ethnicity, diversity and identity? What materials will participants use, if any?

Who is the intended audience? How many people are estimated to attend or participate? In most cases, the "general adult public" is the intended audience. Please indicate if you have a more specific audience in mind, such as elderly people, parents in a particular school district, prison inmates. In exceptional circumstances Humanities Iowa will consider proposals for youth programs or intergenerational projects, but applicants are encouraged to call HI for consultation prior to submission of a request for such a program.

As you describe the activities, identify the people who will present information or conduct various activities. Who are the humanities scholars involved in the project, what are their credentials, and what will they contribute to the project?

If a product such as a video or audio tape, publication, oral history, poster, etc. results from the project, how will it be preserved, promoted and distributed to the public?

Publicity Plan

How will you attract an audience? Where and how will publicity be generated? If you are sending news releases or PSAs, please include the names of specific media to whom they will be sent (such as your area public radio station). If you are mailing brochures, postcards, etc., what mailing list are you using?

Evaluation Plan

How will you know whether you have succeeded in reaching your objectives? How will you be able to assess the program¹s strengths and weaknesses at the conclusion of the project? How will your audience and presenters evaluate the effectiveness of the activities?

Humanities Iowa requires that an independent humanities evaluator evaluate programs receiving a Humanities Iowa Major Program Grant. The evaluator may not be employed by the applicant organization, involved in the planning of the project, nor appear to create any other conflict of interest. Applications must include the name of one humanities scholar to evaluate the project, and that individual must have already agreed to participate if approved. Please attach a one-page sheet that lists the evaluator candidate's name, contact information and credentials (a brief resume or curriculum vitae). The Humanities Iowa Board of Directors may approve the proposed evaluator or substitute an evaluator of its own choosing.

Budget Narrative

Use the Humanities Iowa budget form to indicate all expenses and sources of revenue for the project. It must be accompanied by a budget narrative that specifically identifies the sources of all anticipated revenue and gives a line-by-line description of each item on the expenses section.

The total cost share for the project (combination of cash contribution and in-kind contribution) must at least equal the amount you are requesting from Humanities Iowa. In other words, the grant may cover no more than half the total cost of a project.

Cash Contribution includes cash provided by third parties as well as all contributions made by the applicant organization to the project. Anything the applicant organization contributes, including salary for people working on the project, purchase of supplies, space to carry out project activities, and services related to the project, should be included. If it is difficult to determine exact costs, the applicant should indicate in the budget narrative that costs are estimated.

In-kind Contribution is the dollar value of services, goods and space contributed to the project by third parties only. For example, if a consultant or speaker waives his or her normal fee, it may be reflected as an in-kind contribution, provided that the contribution is adequately documented. In-kind contributions must be itemized in the budget along with cash contributions to arrive at the project's total cost.

Scholar fees or honoraria customarily range between $100 and $1,000, but this may vary depending on the demand for and availability of the scholar, amount of preparation needed, and the time spent on the project. Fees beyond this range for a single lecture must be justified in terms of a scholar's importance to the project and the extent of his or her involvement. Humanities evaluators (required for a major grant) should receive $200 plus travel costs.

Domestic travel and subsistence allowances for scholars, presenters, and evaluator: $85 per day for food and lodging combined; mileage at $.40 per mile; airfare at economy rates.

Funds in the Humanities Iowa Grant Request column must be for direct costs associated with the humanities component of the project.

Examples of items that should not be included in the Humanities Iowa Grant Request column are: refreshments, dinners, or beverages for receptions or events that occur as part of the project; equipment purchases; and staff salaries, including that of the project director. Project expenses incurred or paid out before a Humanities Iowa grant is awarded may not be included in the budget.

Deadlines and Submission Information

Humanities Iowa staff welcomes the opportunity to consult with applicants on proposals by telephone or e-mail. Please contact Tim Johnson, Grants Director, at or (319) 335-4149.

We will work with you to strengthen the application and answer questions. If you would like to submit a draft proposal for critique, please do so several weeks before the deadline and we will help you refine the document before you submit a final version.

Major grants

A complete major grant application consists of a cover sheet, budget form, budget narrative, project narrative, a one-page humanities evaluator description and the signed Agreement and Certifications form. The complete application should be no more than 12 pages. Please do not send additional attachments, unless expressly requested by Humanities Iowa staff.