Grant Writing Tips

At any one time, there are thousands of grant opportunities open for application.  These grants can vary greatly in the amount of funding being offered from as little as a few hundred dollars right through to millions of dollars.  Grants are offered by the Federal Government, State Governments, Local Governments, non-government bodies, as well as corporate and philanthropic organisations.

These grants can be aimed at a wide range of entities, including for-profit businesses, not-for-profit organisations, community groups, sporting clubs, special interest associations, and individuals.

Finding grants that are open for application and relevant to you and your project can be overwhelming.  So, after Zali was elected she decided to have a dedicated Grants Officer on her team to help Warringah navigate the grant minefield, to improve our chance of having as much funding for which we are eligible, diversely flowing throughout Warringah.

We aim to display grants on this website that we believe will be most useful to the people of Warringah.  We also email our database once a month with new grants that are open.  If you would like to receive these emails, please contact Zali's Grants Officer by CLICKING HERE.

The categories we focus on are: community, sport, education, environment, business, arts, disability, vulnerable people, veterans, medical & scientific research, as well a s special events such as the Coronavirus stimulus grants, Bushfire Relief Funding and Legal Aid for Royal Commissions.  We have included Federal Government, State Government, Local Government and non-government/corporate grants.

Some grants are open all the time (ongoing), some are open until the pool of money runs out, some are annual and come up at the same time each year, some are first-in-first-served for a certain number of applications per geographical area, but most are open for a defined window of time (usually 4-6 weeks) and are decided on need and merit ie how well you adhere to the eligibility criteria and grant guidelines.  This means that the quality of your application is very important.

Grant writing tips

Three of the most common reasons grants are unsuccessful are:

  1. The project did not satisfy the purpose of the grant
  2. The entity/organisation that applied did not satisfy the eligibility criteria
  3. The application did not include all of the requested material (if your application is incomplete, you will be automatically ineligible)

Here are some tips that might help the next time you are submitting a grant application.

Before starting a grant application

• Be very clear about: 

  1. What is your project (eg a renovation, purchase of equipment, research, training, holding an event, environmental regeneration, a piece of art etc)?
  2. Why you are doing it (does this compare with the reason the money is being offered eg to stimulate jobs, to aid economic recovery, to improve/maintain community property/resources, to encourage volunteering, to improve people's health/education, to solve a particular problem identified by the grant giver)?
  3. Who will benefit (see if you can provide evidence via statistics, surveys or reports; does this line up with the target group identified by the grant giver)?
  4. How much it will cost (do you have quotes and a budget)?
  5. Who is going to oversee the project until completion?
  6. How long will the project take to complete and can you deliver the project on time?
  7. Who is going to complete the grant application and submit it by the application date?

• Read the grant guidelines carefully (highlight the important information).  Does your project fit the objectives of the grant?

• Call the organisation or government department issuing the grant to ask any questions you have before you start writing. They are usually very helpful.  

Note: Electorate-based federal grants are those whereby federal electorates (like Warringah) have a certain amount of money to distribute.  Zali's electoral office will put an Expression of Interest form on this website when this type of grant is open for application. In Zali's first year, her office distributed more than $600, 000 in this particular type of funding.  This type of grant means you are only competing with other eligible organisations like yours in our local area.

Have someone who is willing to be in charge and champion the application, however, it is also advisable to have a small team of people working together so you can divide up the tasks.  The person in charge needs to have a sound understanding of your organisation and the project, as well as competent writing skills.  Funding agreements are legal contracts and your organisation must be able to fulfil the terms of the contract. Having said that, government departments are usually very helpful in aiding you along the way.

Make sure you check the following:

• Your organisation meets the eligibility criteria (eg you might need an ABN or to be incorporated, a not-for-profit, small/medium size business, below a certain annual turnover, registered for GST or tax-exempt etc).  

You can check this by searching the Australian National Charities and Not-for-profits Commission website, ABN lookup.  Please note: schools need to check which ABN to use on the application - often there are three different ABNs they can choose from.  

It's a good idea to have all of your organisation's records in one place so that grant writing is made easier each time you apply.  Make sure you keep copies of past applications - particularly those that have been successful.  This is particularly helpful for successive personnel.

Some grants are targeted or restricted to particular organisations, however, most are open/competitive.  This will be stipulated in the grant guidelines.

• Your project meets the eligibility criteria (eg if you can apply for wages, advertising, infrastructure, equipment, travel etc). Be aware of funding exclusions ie what the money is not permitted to cover.  If you are not sure about your project's eligibility, call the organisation offering the grant and ask.

• You have the appropriate approvals and documents or can get them before the deadline (eg DA, quotes, permission from landlords/landowners).

• You can finish the project by the deadline in the grant guidelines.  Also, check the rules around when you can start the project and start spending the money. Check the opening and closing dates.

• You can finish the project within budget and what the benefit will be for their investment, showing the project is good value and the money will not be wasted. 

• Whether you need to contribute any funds (either cash or in-kind) in addition to the funds received from the grant (consider the minimum and maximum amounts that the grant allows for). If you are asking for a percentage of the full amount, clearly show how you will fill the funding gap. Be sure to show how you arrived at your figures, particularly valuing in-kind contributions.  Note: ‘in-kind’ means goods and services donated for free, including people’s time.  Build in a contingency for possible cost variations and explain any unusual items of expenditure.

• You are in the right electorate or geographical area.

• Whether you need to find another organisation to sponsor you or partner you (eg a university, larger company, a parent organisation, a state or national body, local government).

• Who in your organisation is willing to be responsible for overseeing the grant from application to project completion.

• Your project lines up with the goals of the grant (eg the aim or objective outlined in the grant guidelines).  Remember to explain WHY you need this money, WHY the project is important/essential and WHO will benefit.    

• Look at why this organisation is offering the funding and how your project meets their needs. Ask yourself: "Why is this money being offered?  What end do they want to achieve?".

• You can demonstrate that you can finish the project and your organisation has longevity, eliminating risk.

• You have used normal language – don’t feel that you need to use fancy words to impress them.  Just keep it clear and concise; make it easy for them to read and understand. Remember to use a great title for your project that succinctly depicts what it is and its relevance to the grant.

• You have used numerical terms to explain what you are doing (eg we will run 10 workshops that are 1 hour in duration for 20 people per session = 200 participants).  Relevant, credible statistics are also helpful.

Before submitting your application

• Go back and tick off all of the requirements listed in the grant guidelines.

• Check it with others from your organisation.  Have someone else read over it to make sure the language is clear, that your figures add up and that there are no spelling mistakes or typos.  You don’t want to change your application after you have submitted it.

• Consider having a professional grant writer look over it.

• See if you can get three referees or letters of support. (Zali is open to writing letters of support for grant applications – please email Zali's Grants Officer with your request and include a brief description of your project and the name of the grant.)

• You could also include evidence of previous grants you have successfully managed and the biographies of the people who will oversee the project.  Make sure it is clear who your organisation is and what type of work it does.

• Submit your application on time. Late applications will not be accepted in fairness to everyone else submitting. Remember, sometimes websites crash in the hours just before the closing time, so leave a day or so up your sleeve to avoid the stress of submitting at the 11th hour.

We wish you all the very best with your applications.  Zali would like to see all eligible organisations receive the funding they need to be able to do their work, allowing our community to continue to thrive. Feel free to contact Zali's Grants Officer if you have any questions.  Please let us know if you apply for a grant and hopefully,  you can let us know when you are successful!