How grants work
Most people are just so happy to find a grant program, they don’t stop to consider whether they should apply. And that is where most applicants go wrong. Our aim is to empower you to build a strong and successful approach to grants, so that business can tap into grants again and again, without wasting time and effort.
You might be surprised to know that grants are not really about you – even when you win them! Grants are offered by government and occasionally by corporations, to help fulfil their policy and aims. Where your project aligns with these aims and helps to achieve those goals – then you might get a grant. Just remember, grants are part of a bigger picture. Submitting a grant application is the wrong place to start if you have not considered the intention behind the program.
The four steps to grant success
Most organisations know there’s money out there somewhere, but how can you really work towards grant success? Many people tell us that it’s too hard, they don’t know where to look, and if they do find a relevant grant, they don’t know what steps to take next.
In response, we have has developed a four step process to help you succeed from the outset.
A basic misunderstanding about the nature of grant programs is often the cause of organisation’s failure to access funding. Many people believe they should get a grant because they have a good business or a good idea, but that’s not correct.
Grants are generally a method for a government to enact their policy in a particular area. Grants tend to fund specific projects, not an overall organisation, op-ex costs, or core functions of a business, so begin to think about your funding needs in terms of a project that can be clearly defined and costed.
Move away from a reactive, frantic, grant seeking cycle and start to incorporate grants into your ongoing business or financial strategy. This could include mapping out an annual calendar of grant applicationsand reviewing your eligibility status for these programs. Does your company structure set you up to access grants? Do you have DGR or TCC status? Is all public liability insurance in order?
Sorting out these factors allow you to better judge your chance of success, and choose the programs for which you’ll invest time into the application process.
It’s not rocket science, but a certain amount of skill and experience certainly helps. You need to describe your organisation and activities in a clear, comprehensive and consistent manner, and make a convincing case for why you should receive funding.
If you are a smaller business or community group, then you will be able to draw quite heavily on your business plan, which should already articulate your mission, purpose, and methods of achieving desired goals. Larger organisations should have a raft of documentation that can support an application.
It’s important that your organisation is not represented in a grant application in a way that is contrary to your core activities, ongoing goals and vision. Whatever content is used in your application should be articulated in other company policies, documents and reports. There needs to be a natural alignment between both the funding and recipient party for grants to be a true success.
If you’ve been successful, make sure you understand the reporting requirements and complete them as needed. Depending on your funding body, this can be turned into a great relationship-building exercise.
If you missed out on the grant, call the administrator and ask why. Perhaps it was simply that a government policy focus that didn’t match your business focus, or perhaps there were areas of your project or your application that you need to improve for next time. Either way, this advice can prove valuable for the future so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and get talking.
Who provides grants?
Grants are offered by all levels of government and philanthropic groups, such as trusts and foundations; corporates and high-net-worth individuals. Almost all business grants come from Government.
Federal & State Government
Federal Government funding is generally provided for projects with a national reach or benefit, while State Governments are a likely source if your activities are focused in a particular region.
In the business sector, the State grants generally complement the Federal grants by filling the gaps. For the community sector, much of the Federal funding is delivered through State Government agencies.
Councils are also very active in funding both business and community organisations. They may coordinate networking events and other services to further support economic development.
Trusts & Foundations
Philanthropic trusts and foundations offer significant funding for a wide range of projects, particularly in the community sector. These grants can be hard to find, especially when donors wish to remain anonymous. However the application process is often very straightforward, with ‘mission alignment’ typically more important than the nitty-gritty details of the proposed project.
Who can receive grants?
Grants are provided for projects, not organisations. You can’t get funding just to run your organisation: you need to identify a specific need and present it as a project, with a beginning and an end. For business, grant funding is available for a broad range of activities. The focus, however, is generally on the following areas:
- Research & Development
- Sustainability and Green Technology
- IT & Communication Services
- Medical & Biotechnology
For the Community sector, support is available for activities in all the following areas:
- Arts and Entertainment
- Community Services
- Multicultural Services
- And more!
It is often a requirement that applicants for community grants are established as a not-for-profit, with tax deductible status, although not always. If this a problem, it may be possible to have an auspicing body act as the applicant on your behalf.
Where it usually goes wrong
Traditionally everyone starts and ends at Step 3 – Grant Writing. As a result, most fail and the attrition rates are high, resulting in lost time, effort and expense. We emphasise Steps 1 and 2 – Education and Grant Strategies. This way, organisations can build an ongoing grant calendar and systematically work their way through grant programs that are best suited to them. As they do this, their internal ability to apply for grants will increase.
How will you be assessed?
All grants differ in their requirements and eligibility criteria. You will need to meet the selection criteria specific to each grant. BUT, also be prepared to be assessed in relation to all aspects of your organisation and activities, including:
- Your management capabilities
- Organisation structure
- Budget and turnover
- Tax status (if you are a NFP it is usually best to have Deductable Gift Recipient tax status)
- Outcomes and achievements to date
How do we help?
To offer organisations control of their own grants opportunities, we have invested significant resources to build the tools needed to allow businesses to self-determine and manage their grants future. GrantGuru provides a tool that will allow you to explore the full extent of competitive and entitlement grants from the many and varied bodies and authorities who offer them. GrantGuru provides email alerts and allows you to access all the grants information in one central location and in a standard format so grant opportunities can be easily compared.
Through GrantGuru, we:
- List all grant programs we can find.
- Keep all information up-to-date.
- Allow searching to find or refine programs in order to create a tailored short list.
- Allow the grants to be easily compared.
- Indicate timing for commencement and lodgement of submissions.
- Offer the ability to monitor favourites and apply, through a ‘to do’ list – a simple workflow management tool.
GrantGuru provides information that intuitively allows you to determine the best opportunities. For example, by providing merit criteria for each grant program, applicants can immediately see how they will be assessed, and by extension, their chances of success.
Does it work?
In the last 12 years, our users have secured over $500 million in grants with a success rate of 100% for all entitlement programs (even after audit) and 89% success rate for competitive programs. Yes, that’s amazing, we know – because the key to success is good qualification of success.