Grant Guide and Writing Tips

Running an event or project is exciting, offering a chance to deliver valuable services to your community. But often, your existing resources and volunteers aren't enough. That's where grant funding comes in.

Applying for grants might seem complex, but it's more accessible than you think. Funding bodies are ready and waiting to support projects like yours with allocated funds.

This guide simplifies the grant application process into clear, manageable steps. We're here to help you and your group confidently navigate funding opportunities to support your impactful project.

Identify what you need

Think about all of your projects, programs, and needs for the year ahead; even better, think ahead for the next few years and consider:

  • What are you already planning?
  • What is on your wish list?
  • What would you love to do if you had the money?

Use this brainstorming to develop a list of projects. All these potential projects should link back to your overarching goals. For example, are you:

  • Promoting your group to increase membership?
  • Hosting an event for the community to enjoy?
  • Providing workshops or services in an area of need?

Ensure that you identify all the items you will need to pay for to bring your project or event to life, for example, venue hire, equipment, entertainment, program coordination, advertising, signage, and so on. Identifying the gaps between what you can already provide and what you can't will help to pinpoint potential funding needs.

Please note that grants are rarely for organisational operating costs, so it's important to check funding guidelines thoroughly for details on eligible funding items.

Finding grants

In additon to grants, sponsorships, donations and subsidies offered by the City of Cockburn, you can also try a Google search to look for grants offered by other government bodies, corporations and non-profilts.

Here are some other avenues to try:
Check your eligibility

When exploring grant opportunities, it's crucial to understand that each funding source may have its own set of eligibility criteria. Commonly, applicants need to be part of an incorporated, not-for-profit (NFP) organisation.

Understanding Not-for-Profit status

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) specifies that an NFP organisation must have governing documents restricting the distribution of profits or assets to its owners, members, or other individuals.

In the City of Cockburn, such organisations include:

  • Neighbourhood associations
  • Sport and recreation clubs
  • Playgroups
  • Youth-based organisations
  • Seniors groups
  • Cultural community groups
  • Community support organisations
  • Community education groups

Find out more about types of NFPs.

Incorporation: Creating a legal entity

Incorporation grants your organisation a status similar to that of a natural person, allowing it to operate a business and generate profits, provided these are not distributed among members. To be eligible for incorporation, an organisation must:

  • Have at least six members with voting rights under its rules
  • Operate on a not-for-profit basis
  • Be formed for one or more lawful purposes as outlined in the relevant legislation.

Find out more about what is an incorporation.

Applying with an auspice

If your group is not incorporated, consider applying for grants through an auspice — an already incorporated NFP organisation. The auspice agrees to oversee the funding on behalf of the applicant, ensuring the project's completion and proper grant management.

Special criteria for certain organisations

Some funding bodies, like the City of Cockburn, impose specific criteria. For example, schools and their parent groups must:

  • Provide a 50% co-contribution (financial or in-kind) to their projects
  • Ensure the project benefits the wider community and is accessible outside school hours
  • Confirm that the project does not fall under the Education Department's responsibilities.

Reading grant guidelines

Always read the guidelines carefully to understand what's covered, funding timelines, and any restrictions. Note that the City does not fund retrospective projects or personal items like uniforms and catering.

Contact the Grants Officer

All grants have a designated contact person for discussing your potential project, available via email or telephone. Grants Officers can also meet with you if needed.

It's crucial, often a necessity for meeting eligibility criteria, to contact a Grants Officer early on. This conversation ensures that the Officer can confirm:

  • Your group's eligibility
  • The project's eligibility and potential support for an application
  • Eligibility of specific funding items before you proceed.

Organisations typically do not fund projects that replicate existing services or those already being funded. It's wise to check what is currently offered to the community. Your innovative idea might already be in progress or planned for the near future.

The Grants Officer can offer insights you might not have considered, help manage expectations about what may or may not be funded, and suggest ways to strengthen your application for a better chance of success. If resources allow, they might even review draft applications and provide specific advice.

Planning your project
Effective planning is crucial for both the success of your project and the strength of your grant application. As the saying goes, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Breaking down your project into detailed activities, assigning responsibilities, setting a budget, and gathering necessary quotes gives you a clear understanding of the project's scope, timelines, and areas where you need support.

Key components of your project plan

  • Stakeholders (Who is involved?): Detail your group, including current membership numbers, and identify everyone who will be involved in the project.
  • Activities and outcomes (What?): Clearly define what you aim to deliver and the outcomes you hope to achieve with your project.
  • Purpose (Why?): Explain the reasons behind the project, the specific needs it addresses, and the target participants, including expected numbers.
  • Timelines (When?): Outline a comprehensive timeline, detailing what needs to happen and when, both before the project begins and after it concludes.
  • Location (Where?): Specify the project’s location and justify your choice. Consider whether the location is suitable for your project's needs.
  • Responsibilities (How?): Describe the operational plan, including who will do what, to ensure the project's smooth execution.
  • Evaluation: Determine how you will measure the success of your project. Identify specific indicators that will signal whether the project has achieved its intended outcomes.
Addressing each of these components supports a strong grant application and lays the groundwork for successful project execution.
Writing the grant application

When writing a grant application, you're essentially presenting the Who, What, Why, When, Where, and How of your project. This phase is about translating your planning into a compelling narrative that outlines your project comprehensively, making a strong case for support. It's your opportunity to highlight a problem and how your organisation plans to solve it through the project.

Key writing tips include:

  • Provide evidence: Support your proposal with evidence that illustrates the project from start to finish and its benefits to the community. Including letters of support can significantly strengthen your application.
  • Clarity and accuracy: Ensure all information is accurate, clear, and succinct. Avoid making assumptions; write as if the reader has no prior knowledge of your project or organisation.

  • Comprehensive answers: Answer all questions fully, paying special attention to mandatory ones. Missing information can lead to your application being incomplete or not considered.

  • Organise supporting documents: Be prepared with all necessary legal, financial, and administrative documents, such as:

    • Incorporation certificate of your organisation
    • Annual Reports or recent AGM minutes
    • Audited financial statements
    • Recent bank statements
    • Quotes for budgeted items
    • Any additional documents that aid in assessing your application.
  • Proofreading: Double-check for spelling errors, ensure budget numbers are accurate and tally up, and confirm the application adheres to the grant's guidelines. Compliance with mandatory requirements is crucial.

  • Include all relevant documentation: Make sure to attach all required supporting documentation to your application.

Following these guidelines can greatly enhance the quality of your grant application, making it easier for grant assessors to understand your project's value and potential impact. Remember, the goal is to make your application as clear and persuasive as possible to increase your chances of success.

Submitting your application

Begin your application process well in advance. Reviewing your proposal details with your group or committee, gathering quotes, and securing letters of support can take time.

Ensure you submit your application by the deadline, aiming for an early submission if possible. Keep in mind that most organisations strictly adhere to their deadlines and will not consider late applications.

Assessment process

Once the funding round concludes, the grants administration team begins the assessment of all applications. They evaluate based on several key criteria:

  • Completion: Is the application fully completed without any missing sections?
  • Community benefit: How will the project benefit the Cockburn community specifically?
  • Applicant contribution: What percentage of financial or in-kind support is the applicant contributing to the project?
  • Other funding efforts: Has the applicant sought or attempted to secure other sources of funding support?
  • Alignment with Strategic Plan: How does the project align with the City’s Strategic Community Plan?
  • Long-term impact: Does the project provide a lasting benefit to the community?

These considerations are crucial in determining the potential success and impact of your project within the community and its alignment with broader city objectives.

The grant agreement (if approved)

Upon the approval of your grant application, you will receive a notification from the funding body. Typically, this comes with a funding agreement or conditions of funding, establishing a formal contract between the funding body and your organisation.

This agreement is crucial as it outlines:

  • Granted amount: The total funds awarded to your project
  • Grant conditions: Specific terms and conditions tied to the use of the grant
  • Reporting and acknowledgment requirements: Guidelines on how to report on the grant's use and how to acknowledge the funding body
  • Acquittal requirements: Instructions on how to justify the spent grant money.

As the grant recipient, it's your responsibility to have this agreement signed and returned to the funding body along with an invoice for the granted amount.

Acknowledgment requirements

Pay special attention to any specific acknowledgment instructions. For grants from the City of Cockburn, for example, any use of the City's logos must be approved by the Corporate Communications department, as stipulated in the funding conditions.

GST considerations

If your organisation is registered for GST, you are required to pay GST on the grant amount. In such cases, the City will increase the grant sum by 10% to cover this. Conversely, if your organisation is not registered for GST, you will not need to pay GST, and the grant amount will remain as awarded.

Managing your project - post grant approval

Implementing your funded project

Upon receiving notification that your grant application has been successful, you can start your project and begin utilising the funds. It's essential to keep a copy of your application handy and refer to it frequently to ensure your project and budget align with your initial plan. Adhering strictly to your proposal is critical for the acquittal process. Document your project's progress with photos and detailed notes to illustrate adherence to your original proposal.

Maintaining records

Throughout the project, maintain thorough records of all media exposure, marketing, and advertising efforts, along with all invoices and receipts. This documentation is vital for matching your expenditure to the planned budget and demonstrating how the grant funds were utilised during the acquittal phase.

Handling variations

Should you need to modify your project's budget or timeline, obtain approval from the funding body beforehand. Any requests for changes should be submitted in writing, detailing the current project status, the reason for the variation, and any proposed adjustments to the budget or timeline. Variations are generally approved if they align with the grant's original objectives and intent.

The final step: acquittal

Completing your project requires submitting an acquittal report, which should reflect your initial application. This report must include a summary of the project, how it achieved the grant's objectives, and details of participation. Support your acquittal with as much evidence as possible, such as photos, videos, and participant feedback, highlighting successes, challenges, and lessons learned. This not only serves as a valuable reference for your organisation but can also guide Grant Officers in advising other groups.

The financial aspect of your acquittal is crucial. Review your original budget, as this will be compared against your actual spending. Ensure all expenses are backed by invoices and receipts to account for the use of funds. Also, document any in-kind contributions from your group, as these are integral to the project's financial reporting.



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