Following on from Part One of this three-part series, today in Part Two let’s look at Grants as a means of generating funds for our not-for-profits. Here are some handy tips below to help you on your pathway to grant success.
Be Grant-smart before you start
Do your homework! Not every grant is going to suit your organisation. There will most likely be specific criteria about the type of organisations that are eligible to apply for different grants, so make sure you read the guidelines to confirm you are eligible before you spend any time on an application. And different grants and different funding bodies will have different priority impacts and target sectors, so make sure your project and your organisation are a good fit for what they are looking to fund. It’s always a good idea to contact the funding body before you apply too – this gives you a chance to talk through the issues above with someone in the know, as well as an opportunity to potentially create a good first impression ahead of them receiving your application for funds.
Where to find Grant opportunities
This can sometimes feel like the biggest challenge! But if you scratch the surface there are actually many avenues that can lead you to grant opportunities. For example, you can pay a small fee to subscribe to Our Community’s Funding Centre newsletter which comes out monthly and lists all the grants available nationally and on a state-by-state basis – it can be quite a tome to wade through each month but it is certainly very comprehensive. Many of the local councils also have free grants newsletters too, so this can be a very worthwhile mailing list to join. And the independent Federal MP Dr Helen Haines has a dedicated grants page on her website so check it out here for a wealth of information for community-based organisations, not just in her electorate but across the whole country.
Writing your Grant application
This is not difficult but it can be quite time consuming. So give yourself plenty of time and don’t leave it to the last minute. The time between the grant opening and closing dates might seem like a long time, but you will often need to get information from third parties – quotes, letters of support, etc – and that all takes time. And while you may have content you can copy from previous grant applications, it is still important to put an individual spin on each grant application so that what you write speaks directly to each unique grant program. The same goes for letters of support – it can be tempting to get a generic letter of support that you can use for multiple applications, but granting bodies tell us that the letters of support which have the greatest impact are those which refer directly to the particular grant you are applying for.
So you’ve got your grant – congratulations! Now you need to ensure you spend it as intended. You will most likely have to sign some sort of grant agreement with the funding body so use that as your constant guide to ensure you fulfil your part of the arrangement. This document will tell you what you must do and by when, so follow what it says to show your funding body that your organisation is responsible and trustworthy. If for some reason things change, or issues crop up which will impact your capacity to stick to the agreement, talk to your funding body as soon as you can about the possibility of seeking a variation to the agreement – most funders are able to be fairly accommodating.
Reporting on your Grant
Be mindful throughout the delivery of your project to capture data, photographs, and other evidence you can use at the end of your project, in your grant report. Again, check the grant agreement for the reporting requirements, and report accordingly – apart from being a contractual requirement, it all goes towards cementing your organisation’s reputation as a sound and effective operator.
Who can help?
Many organisations and individuals can assist with grant-finding and grant-writing. One in particular I would check out is Grants Only Group…they are a not-for-profit themselves, and their whole purpose is to help the rest of us find the grants we need to deliver the projects we want to do. For a small fee they will help you find a suitable grant and even help with writing the application. If your application is successful, there is a further fee. Check with their Chairperson Wendy Don as to what those fees currently are.
Want to join the conversation?…sharing Financial Sustainability challenges and solutions
If you want the opportunity to join in one of our Not-for-profit Networking Lunches where this quarter’s topic is just that – Financial Sustainability – get in touch and I will pop you on the list for our next (and last for the year!) session on 25 November, 12 – 1 pm (online).