Grants, Success and Strategy: 5 Questions for Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer

Frustrated by proposal guidelines? Overwhelmed with looming deadlines? Creative Capital is premiering the latest offering in our Professional Development Program just in time for application season. On September 10, Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer will share her fundraising expertise in the brand new webinar, How to Create A Project & Proposal that Gets-to-Yes. Hoong Yee, the longtime Executive Director of the Queen Council on the Arts, teaches proposal writing from a panelist’s point of view.

HoongYee Lee Krakauer leading a Grant Writing course at Queens Council on the Arts

Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer leading a Grant Writing course at Queens Council on the Arts

You run five miles a day, lead a nonprofit arts organization, surf, write and illustrate children’s books, and are a prolific blogger. Where does all that energy come from?
I wish I could say it comes from grantwriting! For me, the fountain of youth is to focus on creating a rich life every moment of the day. If that sounds like profound wisdom from the guru on the mountain, I will tell you that it comes from two people just as wise and perhaps more pragmatic about things like that. When my mother and my mother-in-law joined forces, that was the beginning of a lot of interesting change in my life. Ming Hwa Lee and Mildred Phyllis Kramer came from two different worlds but shared an abiding belief that you and only you can make the happiness you seek.
“Get over yourself,” Ming would peer over her knitting and without missing a stitch, she would snap in vivid Cantonese, “you are just a speck in the universe. Do something to smile about.”
“The sun is shining, the birds are singing,” and with her hand to her heart clutching her pearls, Mildred would sigh in Yiddish and say,”It’s wonderful being barely alive.”

How did you come to a career in grantmaking? 
Grantmaking is part of the work I do at the Queens Council on the Arts. I consider it an honor and a privilege to work in the arts in service to artists and the ability they have to make life beautiful for all of us.
I began writing grants as a newly published children’s book author/illustrator and cut my teeth on writing bigger grants for the Rockaway Artist Alliance and Flushing Town Hall. When I became Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts, I moved to the other side of the table as a funder and a grant panelist for other foundations.
What are the best and worst parts of your job?
Living and working in Queens is awesome. I love the creative energy of this borough. I seethe every time I cross the toll bridge from Rockaway heading into Astoria. A toll? To go from Queens to Queens? Are you kidding?
How has the nonprofit world changed since you began your career? Have you noticed any shifts or general trends in arts administration and fundraising in recent years?
The diversity in the populations we serve have changed dramatically and will continue to do so. However, the leadership of a disturbing number of nonprofits and their board trustees serving these people do not reflect or include members of these communities. I see more diversity in staff in middle management down to volunteers. Cultural equity is an important concern in arts philanthropy.
What are the most important things that artists should keep in mind during the grant application process?
In anything worth doing well, success comes through a combination of mindset and strategy in practice. Many tennis champions will tell you that the way to win the game isn’t about having the best serve but having the best strategy to build points. Artists can dramatically improve their chances of winning a grant by understanding that it is not about being the best artist, it is about being the best candidate for the grant. One of the best ways to do that is to understand the value of giving and adding value to the world you care about. This changes people’s perception of you and how valuable you are which can position you well in a grant review.

That is something Ming and Mildred would love.

For more on successful proposals and grant writing, join Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer on September 10 at 7:00pm ET for Get Grants – A Project and Proposal that Gets-to-Yes.

Hoong Yee Lee KrakauerHoong Yee Lee Krakauer helps artists and creative people grow their careers with great grant writing strategies and mindsets that she has developed over 15 years as an veteran grant panelist, grant maker and grant writer. For more insights from a grant reviewer’s point of view, visit her blog at
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