Tips and Tricks

To make your Grant Proposal stand out from all the others and get funded, you have to know how to write a great application. Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you on your way. Our Grants Officers are always on hand to help if you need it.

Grants Officers

Council has staff available to provide advice on grant funding and can assist with the preparation and acquittal of grant applications. Contact Council on 02 6850 2300 for more information.

Grant Writing Tips

Tip 1: Answer the question clearly and avoid general terms

It’s important to be straight to the point, avoid waffle and avoid the use of vague general terms. This is two different answers to the same question. Compare for yourself which of the two is clearer, to the point and answers the question better:

Answer One: Gum Swamp Landcare is just one co-contributor, and will be devoting administration, travel, professional video and editing services as well as professional awareness raising through mainstream and social media. This contribution would run into thousands of dollars. Many other partners who are involved in the project will be offering other services such as administration, governance expertise etc which would be worth tens of thousands if paid for on a contract basis. 
Answer Two: Gum Swamp Landcare is just one co-contributor, and will be devoting administration, travel, professional video and editing services as well as professional awareness raising through mainstream and social media. The videoing would cost $3000 if hiring a company, the editing another $2000. This video will be used by 14 partner organisations, if they all had to replicate that it would have a value of at least $50,000. Many other partners who are involved in the project will be offering other services such as administration, governance expertise etc which would be worth tens of thousands if paid for on a contract basis.

Council once had a short listed grant application knocked back. When we sought feedback on how we could have made a better application the only thing the funding body could find wrong with the application was the use of this term because it was too general:

This project will encourage participation in sport by the delivery of improved, safer infrastructure and by the delivery of a facility that caters for existing and future growth in Netball at Forbes. Netball is a popular and ideal sport for time poor families and is a healthy active sport for all ages. The current facility is struggling to cope with the number of people already utilising it. The facilities size and the state of the existing infrastructure is severely limiting the type and number of events that can be held. The facility can not support a long term, planned expansion for Netball at Forbes. This project will deliver a much larger, safer modern facility that will support a greatly expanded program of club events, gala days, carnivals as well as local and regional training days. The project will also allow the Forbes Netball Association to focus on junior(5/10) development.

A good tip is to get someone with no knowledge of the project to proof read your application. If they can fully understand the project after they have finished reading your application then you’re on the right track.

Tip 2: Be Prepared

If you have a project in mind to access grant funding you may require:

  • A copy of your Incorporation Certificate
  • Your Incorporation number and ABN
  • DA approval or DA Waiver
  • Written Quotes, depending on the amount of funding sometimes up to three
  • Permission from the owner of the land or facility to carry out the project
  • Proof of public support for your project
  • A detailed project plan
  • A strategic plan

It can take up to a fortnight to access a copy of your Incorporation Certificate, it can be difficult to get trades people to quote, DA’s or DA Waivers can also take considerable time. A good tip is for large applications that require a substantial amount of supporting documentation is to form a working party to assist with the preparation of the application. Council can also assist. Another good tip is even if there is no funding opportunities on the immediate horizon go out and organise your quotes now as some grant programs are only open for four weeks or less. Quotes are good for twelve months.


Tip 3: Strategic Planning is particularly time consuming but grant funding gold

Strategic Planning is time consuming but once complete simplifies the application process and will increase your chance of gaining funding. A good strategic plan will require:

  • A community profile
  • Detailed information on the projects location
  • Well-presented but to the point information on the projects background
  • To the point information on issues and challenges
  • Priorities
  • Objectives
  • Vision statement
  • Scope of work
  • Bench marks
  • SWOT Analysis
  • Long term capital expenditure forecasts
  • The management team
  • Address the applicants capacity to undertake the project
  • Procurement
  • Promotions & communication
  • Letters of support
  • Risk management
  • High quality photos

Council can assist with the development of strategic plans and risk management.

Tip 4: Understand project methodolgy

Writing a good grant application is just like telling a good story and there are many different approaches to telling the story.

  • Issues and challenges affecting our community
  • How we have addressed these challenges in the past
  • Our plan to address these challenges in the future
  • How the funding forms part of that plan
  • What outcomes the funding will achieve

This is the approach all funding bodies are seeking

Tip 5: Acquittals

Nothing causes more heart ache and issues during the preparation of a grant application then incomplete or outstanding acquittals. Failure to complete a full acquittal will make you ineligible for any future funding.

Use lots of before and after photos, good quality videos and newspaper articles in your project acquittal. Failure to complete an acquittal will reflect poorly on you, your project and your organisation. Grant funding bodies have long memories, they will remember who was too poorly organised to complete an acquittal and who sent in an outstanding acquittal.

A good acquittal will help stand you in good stead for future funding and is an important part of building a relationship with your grant funding body.

Tip 6: Build the relationship

  • Send regular project updates even when not required or requested
  • Complete excellent acquittals with plenty of photos and supporting documentation
  • Follow up with a project update on the success of the project and its positive impact in the community twelve to eighteen months after acquittal 
  • Don’t be afraid to ring the grant funding body to discuss the project and seek feedback during the preparation of an application

Tip 7: Read the guidelines, double check eligibility, proof read your application

Most grant funding programs will be oversubscribed by up to two thirds.

The people responsible for assessing the applications will seek to cut down on their work load by checking each application firstly to see if it is eligible or if any mistakes have been made during the preparation of the application. If there is a mistake if you’re lucky they will contact you seeking clarification, if you’re unlucky they will just rule your application ineligible. A simple way to avoid this is to read the guide lines carefully as well as getting one to two other people to proof read your application before you submit.

Tip 8: Deadlines

Once upon a time every grant program closed at 5.00pm. Now every program closes at a different time. Double check the closing time. There is few feelings worse than completing an application only to find that it closed two hours earlier.  

Tip 9: Value for money

Both the State and Federal Governments are seeking value for money when they fund a project. They achieve value for money by funding projects where the applicant is contributing cash, in-kind or volunteer labour. Contributing one or all three will help your applications chances.  

Tip 10: Risk Management 

Both the State and Federal Governments are becoming increasingly risk adverse. Even if it’s not requested. It is a good idea to include a project risk management plan, Council can help with project risk management planning. 

Tip 11: Photos

A combination of good quality photos and text can increase people’s retention of information by 30%. 

Tip 12: Talk with confidence, pride and passion

Anyone who volunteers to serve with our local not-for-profit community organisations is a champion. Always back yourself and talk with pride and confidence.

People can get so wrapped up in how great their projects are that they can fall into the trap of waffling on about how great their project is without properly answering the question. Always take the time, even take a couple of days to read the question and consider just what the funding body is asking. If you’re not sure how to answer it correctly just type anything initially but stop and spend the time thinking about the question and your reply.


Tip 13: Contact your Forbes Shire Council Staff

Council has staff who are available to provide advice and assist you with any aspect of your application. Contact Council on 02 6850 2300 to arrange a meeting.