In Australia, approximately $10 billion in grants are offered by funding bodies annually. It is important to try and ensure your organisation is successful in attracting its share. This section aims to provide some guidance about how to find and apply for grants, in order to maximise your chances of attracting funding.
The first step when thinking about sourcing funding is to explore what sorts of projects your group or organisation would like to carry out, and particular problems or issues these projects would address. This list, along with a Strategic Plan (if you have one) can then be used to help determine which of the available grants provide the best ‘fit’ to help meet these objectives. It is also important to ensure you have the capacity to meet the terms of the contract and deliver on agreed outcomes in the stated timeframes.
Many groups are unaware of the variety of grants potentially available to them. Funding bodies range from all levels of government, to philanthropic foundations and large corporations (in Australia, government funding supports the majority of grants that are on offer). Understanding the motivations of potential funders, and targeting your application to these, can be beneficial. A good place to start looking for possible grants is the Grants Calendar on this website, which also includes links to some of the other grants directories that are available.
Grants are usually ‘tied funds’ in that they can generally only be used for projects or programs, not for core funding (such as wages, administration costs etc.). Therefore, it is recommended that you have a mix of funding sources or ‘diversified funding’ for your organisation or group. Don’t request the funder to provide 100% of your required budget – funding bodies look favourably on applications that demonstrate a mix of available sources of funding, along with in-kind contributions. Relying solely on grants can also reduce the flexibility of your organisation or group, and leave projects vulnerable to shifts in the priorities of funders. Other sources of funding may include paid membership, sale of goods or services, sponsorship, donations and fundraising activities.
How to Write a Winning Grant Application
There are questions that you will be asked every time you write a grant application. To help master the process of applying for funding, give some thought to how to best respond to the following:
Information that is unlikely to change (such as incorporation details, insurance certificates, mission statement, etc.) can be collected and stored so that it is readily available when funding rounds open. Additional information will need to be customised to individual programs and funders to help demonstrate suitability. A simplified format is:
- Who we are;
- What we want to achieve;
- What we have already established;
- Why we need the money (include evidence of a need);
- Key Organisational Data.
- Produce evidence – use up-to-date and accurate data based on objective research;
- Tell the story and demonstrate passion – an evocative case study illustrating the issue will drive your points home better than descriptions might;
- Demonstrate community support – show evidence of community support for your group’s work, and in particular that others support your proposed project;
- Match up – Show where the project fits into the funder’s priorities by checking their websites, annual reports, and previously funded projects. Call the funder to seek clarification and discuss your ideas – most funders encourage contact prior to submitting an application, and are usually happy to answer questions and provide additional guidance
- Demonstrate that you have a clearly defined, innovative, achievable and measurable strategy to address the issue previously described. Be as concrete as possible. Demonstrating that your project objectives align with relevant national, state, regional or local strategies or plans is often a requirement and lends significant support to your application (e.g. referring to the priorities identified in the Regional NRM Plan).
- Detail how the objectives are to be achieved. This is a chance to bring in some innovative ways to do things and make it appealing (sell it!).
What Else You Will Do
- Stakeholder Management – have you thought about all of the key stakeholders and how they will be involved?
- Communication – how will you publicise your project and communicate the outcomes to different groups?
- Monitoring and Evaluation – how will the success of the program be measured? Establish your monitoring points and final evaluation.
Tips, Hints and Resources
Your budget should include:
- What it will cost;
- Who can support you;
- How much you can contribute (financially or in-kind).
Did you know that you can include allowance for project aquital costs in your proposed budget? Many grant applicants are not aware of this, and may be left short on the completion of their project.
It is a good idea to take a look at a sample budget to gain an understanding of the kinds of expenses you may need to account for.
- Guidelines – the most important part of any application is reading the guidelines and objectives, following them to the letter, and ensuring that you actually meet the criteria for the grant;
- Referees – have a number of referees (who you have asked for permission), complete with name, title, contact details and email, ready to add to your application according to the grant focus;
- Testimonials – have some key comments and quotes that you have prepared from supporters and allies;
- If you aren’t successful, make sure you find out why – it will either make you feel better, or you can learn from it.
- Most funding bodies have useful tips on their websites that relate to the specific grants they offer, and it is highly advisable to visit the funder’s individual website when applying for a specific grant;
- Check your eligibility to apply. Some grants may only be available to specific organisations (e.g. incorporated, charity, not-for-profit) and/or may require the applicant to be endorsed as a tax concession charity (TCC) and/or have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. In certain situations it may be possible to have an eligible organisation administer the grant on your behalf (auspicing), although some funders will require that the organisation applying must be running the project;
- Write in clear, simple English, avoiding ‘jargon’;
- Include a definition for acronyms and terminology that may not be generally understood;
- Be specific and avoid generalisations;
- The application should be fact based and include evidence to support claims;
- While it is important to include all relevant information, be succinct and stay within the word limit (if provided), as funders may have a significant number of applications to review;
- Ensure all supporting documents are completed and attached to your application;
- Have someone proof read your application prior to submitting it;
- Closing dates and times are strictly enforced. Read instructions carefully and take into consideration time zones and submission methods (e.g some online applications will still require hardcopies to be mailed, and must be received – not just postmarked – by a specified date). Ensure sufficient time to allowed for postal time);
- Generally funds must be used solely for the approved project;
- Reports are usually required to be provided to the funder at the completion of the project, and in some cases progress reports are required at specified times throughout the project;
- Detailed financial records must be kept for reporting purposes;
- The project must be completed within the defined time frame (unless an extension is approved prior to the end date);
- The funder will usually want to be acknowledged in published material/displays related to the project.
- NARvis Grants Calendar
- Government of Western Australia, Department of Local Government and Communities Grants Directory
- Business.gov.au Grant Finder
- Parliamentary Library, Community Grants: A Quick Guide to Key Internet Links
- The Our Community Funding Centre (requires paid subscription)
If you are an organisation who provides grants, SmartyGrants offers grant management software to assist grant makers.
This approach to funding has taken direction from the Our Community Newsletter. This valuable resource can be accessed at www.ourcommunity.com.au.
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