Ever wanted to know how to identify and develop successful funding applications? Are you grant ready? Here's ten tips from the Advanced Grant Writing workshops my colleague Sue Gold and I have been running.
Finding grants is free and easy if you know where to look. There are a number of web sites available to access information about grants. Government sources are free. Others offer a subscription service, many of which allow you to sign up for notifications at no cost. To get started, try the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, AusIndustry and Business Victoria.
BE ADAPTABLE, BUT NOT OVERLY OPPORTUNISTIC. GRANTS SHOULD SUPPORT IDENTIFIED GOALS AND BRING PROJECTS FORWARD. DON’T CREATE A PROJECT JUST TO WIN A GRANT.
Understand your project’s regional or strategic fit. Government agenda informs policy and in turn priorities and where money will be spent. You can guarantee that grants will align with government policy. As such, will become available for certain industries or activities; be delivered over a given timeframe; and have spoken and implied required outcomes and outputs. Understand your project's place.
Be able to evidence need and support for your initiative. Before a grant is released you may need to have consulted widely, held public meetings, conducted surveys, lobbied - whatever it takes to gain and show there is interest and support for your project. Encourage those people to put their support in writing. Templated, one size fits all letters of support are rarely good enough.
Be proactive and network. Get to know the key people responsible for approving or providing input into government funding in your area, especially local Business Victoria, AusIndustry and Regional Development Australia staff. Share your project ideas and seek as much feedback as possible. Take this advice seriously and action what you can.
Inform and consult, let everyone know about your project. Is there consultation you can do early-on to highlight your needs to government and stakeholders? Ensure that your project is not a surprise to your Member of Parliament, local bureaucrats or, if applicable, the non-profit funding body you’re applying to.
Check your eligibility. Don’t waste time applying for something then finding you’re ineligible. Be aware that grants are generally given for projects or programs, not for core funding, wages, administration costs or overheads. If you're not eligible for a government grant, consider partnering with someone who is and working under their umbrella.
Get an independent opinion. Have some fresh eyes scan your application before you send it off. Ask someone who’s not been involved in preparing the application to read it and check that you’ve answered the questions properly and addressed the selection criteria. Assume the funding body knows nothing about your project. Answer the questions properly so that you’re not struck out on a technicality.
Successful? Well done. Check the funding agreement closely. Ensure the milestone's are achievable before you sign to receive the funding.
Unsuccessful? Don't give up. Rethink your approach. Work out what changes need to be made to make your project eligible for funding from other government agencies. Just because one funding stream turns you down doesn’t mean there isn’t funding available elsewhere. Amend your application to fit, most of the hard work's already done!
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Tammy Atkins has experience working with all three tiers of government and with manufacturers. She has assisted community groups and individuals develop funding applications as well as local government during her time as Economic Development Officer for Indigo Shire Council. She has extensive networks and an understanding of government policy and processes.
Sue Gold brings a collaborative and practical approach to her services. She provides mentoring, coaching, training and consultancy services to private enterprises including large, small and micro business and registered training organisations; community organisations, including neighbourhood houses; public organisations, including health care providers; and small business operators.
Contact us for a quote on our Advanced Grant Writing workshops.