Writing Successful Funding Applications

Writing Successful Funding Applications

Corinne Aiken

Successful funding applications are based on good planning. When you get the planning right, money is usually much easier to find and the projects are much easier to deliver.

Your projects should be prioritised and planned based on an established need, rather than coming up with a last minute project to fit an available grant. Putting thought and effort into planning your future projects helps your organisation to prepare high quality funding applications to achieve previously identified objectives. Clubs who undertake strategic planning who secure a grant can then use that success to leverage future grants. 

Grants are one part of overall financial management for clubs. Running a good business that is sustainable in its own right is more important than endlessly chasing grants. Interestingly, organisations that have money and run good businesses are usually the most successful in securing grants, as funding bodies see their ability to deliver projects and therefore provide the benefits and outcomes they promised the community. 

To successfully capitalise on available grant funding, your organisation should:

  • Develop a grants and funding strategy

  • Plan your project

  • Find funding to match your project rather than a project to match available funding

  • Understand the funding program guidelines and requirements if successful

  • Write well-researched, informed funding applications based on the results of project planning

  • Effectively manage grant-funded projects

  • Acquit all grants received

Most funding programs are very competitive and there are usually insufficient funds to approve all submitted applications. The best applications are for projects that: 

  • Have been previously identified in club planning documentation

  • Have the support of your governing body, or be identified as a priority in their strategic planning documents

  • Are genuinely important to your organisation and the wider community

  • Reflect strong commitment from your organisation

  • Benefit other organisations e.g. facility sharing 

  • Provide opportunities to generate income

  • Are enthusiastically supported by the community

  • Reflect real need in the community 

Get your organisation ‘funding ready’ by ensuring you meet all of your previous reporting and acquittal requirements (e.g. annual returns to the Office of Fair Trading and previous grant acquittals), as well as having copies of frequently requested documentation, including:

  • Certificate of Incorporation 

  • Constitution

  • Most recent financial statements

  • Proof of tenure (e.g. lease, management agreement, rates notice)

  • Current membership details

  • More complex projects often require quotes, detailed designs, planning studies, building and development approvals (for capital works projects) and letters of support.

Funding Tips

  • Your project must be easily understood by someone not familiar with your organisation. You need to tell the reader exactly what your project is and capture their attention in the first couple of sentences of the project description

  • Never leave a blank; answer every question. If a question does not apply insert ‘not applicable’

  • Use short sentences and dot points to get your point across and then provide a more detailed description for more important or complex points

  • Use exactly the same terminology as in the guidelines and link your application to the key words and phrases contained in the guidelines and application form

  • Where additional relevant information is included, make a clear statement linking your answers to the attachments. Only include the relevant sections of supporting plans and studies with direct cross references. Don’t just attach a bulky document and expect the grant assessors to decipher it all

  • Be honest and accurate in the details you provide. For example, don’t try and hide money you have in the bank thinking the funding provider needs to see you are broke

  • Start writing your application well ahead of the closing date, even if you think you have plenty of time and even if the application appears ‘easy’

  • Good management of your funding will demonstrate your ability to properly manage funding and will strengthen your ability to obtain more grants in the future

Grant writing isn’t difficult, but it does take time. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be at application time. The time spent on applications is a good investment. Even if it takes 100 hours of volunteer time, a solid, well planned project and a clear, well-written application for a $150,000 grant that is successful equates to an hourly rate of $1,500 per hour! Better than selling sausages at your local hardware store!