Hi, I’m Jemma, the Sales and Marketing Manager for the AMA.
I’ve been working at the AMA since 2018 and part of my role is to administer our event bursaries — and to choose the successful applicants.
We offer bursaries to help make our events more affordable for those who might not otherwise be able to get involved, with support from partner organisations from across the cultural sector.
We know our applicants are time-poor, so we try to keep the bursary process as simple as possible, but that means that sometimes the applications can lack the detail we are looking for.
I’ve read hundreds of applications over the years, so I thought it would be useful to share my top tips so that your next bursary application will stand out from the crowd.
Tip 1: Read the criteria & make sure you match at least one of them
It may seem obvious, but we do get applications from people who don’t meet the criteria. If you don’t meet at least one of the criteria, we won’t be able to offer a bursary place as our partners have strict funding rules that they must follow.
If you match more than one criteria, make sure you mark them all on the form — the more criteria you match, the stronger your application will appear.
Tip 2: Expand on how you match the criteria
The last two questions on our bursary forms are free text boxes — use these to expand on how you match our criteria if relevant e.g., if the criteria is ‘You are aged 18 – 24 and want to build a career in the cultural sector’, outline why you want to build a career in the sector/what steps you have already undertaken to reach this goal.
Tip 3: Let us know if you are someone we want to encourage to attend
Some of our bursary forms mention that they encourage applications from people who match particular criteria. It won’t count against you if you don’t match these criteria, but it will strengthen your application if you do.
And if you do match these additional criteria, expand on how you match them in the free text boxes.
Tip 4: Read and reference our website
As all marketers do, we spend a lot of time crafting web copy. Whilst we may not be able to let you know event session or speaker details by the time our bursaries are announced, we always try to include information on the themes and what you can expect to get out of our events as soon as they go on sale. The first free text box is the perfect place to show why these things are relevant to you.
The first free text question asks: Why are you interested in attending EVENT NAME? What skills are you looking to grow / who are you looking forward to hearing speak / what sessions would you like to attend?
Be explicit in your answer. Have we mentioned a speaker that you want to hear from? Has a session been mentioned that is of particular relevance to you and the skills you are looking to grow? If we haven’t been able to give you this information, how do the themes or learnings on offer align with your work/organisation?
If networking is a draw for you, then expand on why — who are you hoping to meet? People from the same type of organisation? From a nearby location to you? In the same job level/role as you?
The more detail you can give on why the event appeals/is relevant to you, the more attractive your application will appear.
Tip 5: Most of the sector is in the same boat, so outline why we should help you specifically
The second free text question asks: Please state your reasons for applying for this bursary — Why would you and/or your organisation benefit from attending EVENT NAME? How would you share your learning across your organisation?
It’s easy to answer this question by saying that your organisation is a charity, that your budget has been cut, or that attendance will wipe out your training budget for the year. Whilst we are very sympathetic to these reasons, they unfortunately also apply to most of the arts and cultural sector.
Do still mention these things in your answer, but don’t make them your whole answer. Instead, let us know how attending this particular event will help your organisation or local community.
Could you share your learnings across your organisation? Are you from a deprived area and are looking to improve access/services for your location? Are there groups of people that you would like to become your audience, who you aren’t quite reaching yet? Are you working on or are about to start working on a big project that the event could help you with e.g., a website redesign or digital strategy?
Tip 6: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again
As I said at the start, our bursaries are here to help people, and we want to help as many people as we can.
Our bursaries (especially for AMA Conference) are very popular and unfortunately we only have limited amount to offer at one time. If you meet the criteria for more than one bursary on offer, apply for as many as you can to improve your chances. If you aren’t immediately successful, don’t give up hope as sometimes successful applicants can’t take up the offered place, so in these instances we will make a second offer to an originally unsuccessful applicant.
And if you are ultimately unsuccessful in your application, keep applying for future bursaries!
Thanks for reading — and taking the time to apply
Thank you for putting the time and effort into applying for our bursaries — I hope these tips help you with your application. If you want any more advice or if you have any questions, then feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to reading your application. Good luck!
Sales & Marketing Manager