By Kristy Rodwell
When it comes to financing your start up project or taking your business to the next level, grants are a good place to start. There are different grants for different types of businesses so you need to locate the grant that suits your organisation. Ensure you read any guidelines to check you are eligible to apply in the first place. If there is the ability to talk to a representative from the granting body about your project then make the most of that opportunity.
Filling out the grant application can be a daunting process and even if its not, it takes time. Make the most of your valuable time by putting forward the best application that you can. Firstly, follow all instructions including submission methods, due dates, required attachments, word limits, funding amounts, whatever you are asked to do, do it.
With your responses, make sure you answer the specific question being asked and explain yourself, be clear but also concise and to the point. Don’t provide information that is not requested or responses that are long and verbose. The key is to communicate your idea effectively so that the audience knows exactly what you are trying to achieve / why it is being proposed / what the funds will be used for / what the outcomes will be. Your audience shouldn’t be left guessing or with unanswered questions. Strong responses in grant applications will communicate the requested information plainly and succinctly.
With budget line items as an example, ‘training costs’ is too broad – be specific by stating training venue hire, training materials for participants or training facilitator for 6 hours. As well, be realistic with the budget – do not put forward a budget that will be insufficient to achieve the outcomes and similarly do not exaggerate costs. Showing funding contributions from your organisation and/or others towards the total project costs is generally well regarded; this may be in-kind contributions as well as cash.
Most grants are assessed in a competitive context whereby applications received far outweigh the available funding. Not all grant makers will contact you and clarify any questions that they have. Ensure your application has the best possible chance of success by being kind to your audience. When followed the above tips will certainly provide a solid start.
Author: Kristy Rodwell is a Senior Grants Development Officer at Lotterywest. She has worked across many industries in the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. She has a Bachelor of Business Manager, a Graduate Certificate in Applied Finance and Investment and a Masters in Social Investment and Philanthropy. Kristy chairs the Grants Subcommittee for 100 Women.