Grants have changed. Over 15 years ago I received my first grant, $10k from Tourism NSW for a Visitors Guide for Brewarrina. I wrote a detailed letter. Tick. Money in the bank. Tick.
When I wrote the grant funding application for the infrastructure works at Mount Panorama I had to complete a formal application, supply over 800 pages of supporting information, write a business case justifying the project and complete a costs benefit analysis.
This took a month of my time and energy.
We got the grant but believe me it was hard work and I had to balance writing the grant between my normal work duties. And I was reliant on a range of other people from finance, engineering and external organisations to supply the information. I needed to a) Meet the eligibility criteria b) Meet the guidelines c) Complete the extensive application form which included over 12 pages of assessment criteria in the form of essays. From project activities, detailed budgets, letters of support, letters from the organisations, past history, copies of reports, specific engineering diagrams and maps. If one of these were missing our chances of getting the grant was going to be slim, if not slim, I knew we would get ruled out.
Time and energy wasted and then I would get the “please explain!!”
Grants these days are serious business. They are hotly contested.
Just because, in many cases it’s a government grant, doesn’t mean it’s easy, in fact its harder.
It’s highly competitive, for any federal government grant there are over 550 councils in Australia and countless NFPs all competing for one bucket of money. The Government has to know that your project will meet policy outcomes! Organisations are held accountable and you are expected to prove outcomes for any grants you approve, that is, you will be under contract. The Government does not want egg on their face, especially not the minister, no, no, no thank you.
So here are my first hot tips for applying for grants:
- Assess if you are eligible.
The last round of the Australian Governments National Stronger Regions Fund was hotly contested. There were over 405 applications from Councils and Not for Profits. Only 51 projects were funded. Of the 354 knocked back, 33% of these were deemed ineligible. Of this 33%, 72% was due to not having confirmed partner funding. That is a letter (der in writing) from the partner organisation(s) that is going to match the funding.
What the? Did they read the guidelines? Clearly not.
This particular grant program takes me at least a month of time and energy to prepare my application. Imagine being knocked back because you didn’t include a letter. Make sure you are eligible is the first step of any application.
Read the Guidelines! Almost everything you need to know will be in the guidelines. Follow the guidelines provided by the potential donor; do not create a proposal without identifying how they wish to receive information (and what kind of information to provide, and in what order).
- Are we the right type of organisation
- Will you have every piece of mandatory information to go with the application.
- Can we do the project within the grants given timeframes
- Will it meet the policy sitting behind the grant program? That is will the Minister be able to stay up, bang their chest and say how awesome is this!
- Assess if you’re grant ready?
Do you have the time and energy to complete the best application you can? Can you source all the required documentation? Will you need an independent cost benefit analysis? Can you actually do the work you’re proposing, let alone within the grant timeframes for execution? These are just some of the questions you need to ask. Be honest.
So often I had paperwork arrive on desk with the “here apply for this”. Normally within two-three weeks of the grant closing. Normally these were multimillion $ grants.
Writing a grant app can be stressful and time consuming. Normally you are reliant on other people for information to actually complete the application. Assess this rationally. Will there be another round, are you better off waiting and doing your homework in the meantime rather than doing a half arsed job and getting knocked back.
Remember you are applying for a grant, if you are successful it will be contract between your organisation and business and the grant donor. If they provide the funding you must agree to do the work.
So my point. Just because there is money available are you ready? Are you giving it the best shot to actually get the reward? Do you comply with the eligibility criteria?
READ THE GUIDELINES.
Then read them again.