Grant Writing Tips
Pre Application Steps
There are a number of things you need to look into BEFORE you start writing a funding application.
The reason it is important to follow these initial steps is to avoid putting a lot of effort into something you are not eligible for because you haven't read the criteria carefully enough, or followed the correct process. This is the biggest deterrent for community groups, most of whom have limited time/resources/access to be churning out application after application.
Following these initial steps will make it infinitely easier for you to make sure you are investing your energy into a worthwhile application.
Step 1. Council - If your project is based around infrastructure, contact your local Council to find out if you need to complete a Development Application (DA). If your project has anything to with a heritage place or building, contact your local Council to find out what the requirements are for heritage items. It is important to note that DA and heritage processes can sometimes take months to finalise so its best to sort this step out BEFORE you start investing time in an application.
Step 2. Look - Start looking for grants as soon as you have checked for DA and heritage issues with Council. You can in fact start this step before step 1 to give yourself the best chance of finding the right funding - the sooner you know about a grant, the sooner you can prepare. However it is best to seek Council's advice about their requirements early on. Grant-finder websites like ourcommunity.com.au and communitybuilders.nsw.gov.au are a good place to start looking for grants. You should also ask your local Council for advice as they may have a specific person employed for community projects or grant writing.
Step 3. Identify - Identify a grant that matches your project by looking at your project's mission statement (what your project aims to achieve) and objectives, compared to those of the organisation offering the grant. Also look at the general outline of the grant.
Step 4. Read - carefully read the guidelines, selection criteria, assessment criteria and any other documentation. Do not skim these documents as they will tell you almost everything you need to know about the grant and whether your project will meet the criteria.
Step 5. Phone - Call the contact officer if you are unsure or have any questions about the grant, or to find out whether your project will be eligible. It is vital that you do not let your questions go unanswered - this will only lead to a negative outcome. This phone call is also the beginning of forming a relationship with the funding organisation. You need to make them feel that your project requires their valuable financial contribution.
If you can, it is important to leave as much time as possible to start writing your application, It is recommended that you be prepared to put pen to paper at least 4 weeks before the due date. Once you have taken timing into account and completed the steps above, you can start writing.
What funding bodies are looking for when assessing your application:
Projects that are well planned:
Goals must be realistic
It will be obvious to the assessor if you haven't done the appropriate planning
Don't use emotional arguments
Learn and understand the jargon
Outcomes should be measurable, have a time limit and a challenge.
Projects that fit the guidelines and criteria:
Read through the grant guidelines, assessment criteria and the programs objectives and highlight key terms - ensure they are addressed in your application.
Speak to the contact people for the grant program and take notes.
Tailor applications to each funding body.
Budgets that are appropriate for the project:
Provide value for money
Include all cash components (capital, other grants, loans sponsorship)
Include all in-kind contributions (volunteer labour, time & expertise, donated materials)
Should reflect the whole dollar cost of the project
All questions answered:
Don't leave anything blank
Try to keep your answers short and concise (dot points can be used)
Adhere to word limits
Supporting documents included:
Letters of Support (from people affected by the project, local council, Members of Parliament, government departments, private sponsors, key experts).
Research documents (surveys, statistics)
Will the project continue after the initial; funding has been expended?
What will become of the project?
Projects that provide at least some level of sustainability are generally looked upon more favourably.
Use the same terminology that the words in the guidelines use.
Be positive (use 'will' not 'might' or 'maybe') and avoid uncertain words like believe, hope, anticipate etc.
Keep within the application guidelines word limit.
Explain any benefits that the funding body may receove (i.e media exposure).
Tailor your submission to each particular organisation you are seeking funds from.
Be aware of the appearance and readability; make sure it's legible.
Use techniques such as paragrpah headings, topic sentences, contents pages and appendices but don't overdo the formatting.
Always have your draft submission read by another person, preferably soemone not involved in your project but familiar with the grant guidelines.
Remember the first grant application you prepare will be the hardest. Once you have the basic information though, you will be able to 'recycle' it in future applications. Don't ever give up applying for funding. It is a competitive game and you will need to prove the worth of your funding request.
Writing a funding proposal pdf (PDF - 225.35KB)