The steps to grant application success*

The Australian Government has allocated grants to local governments through eight programs in the first half of 2012.

Did your council apply for a grant and were you unsuccessful? If you missed out, are you wondering how to draft a successful application for the upcoming rounds in 2012/13?

Colin Steele is Managing Director of Section51, a consultancy that assists local and state governments with Australian Government grants and funding. Colin believes more councils should receive funding and, in the steps below, outlines ways to improve the chance of success.

“This is my perspective on what makes a difference — a six-point summary of steps the department or assessor may take to cull, rank or rate your application and what you can do to get through each step.”

  1. Guidelines compliance. Up to 25 percent of applications don’t get past this first gate. Even if you disagree with the guidelines, find them complex, or have difficulty with the timeframe, if you really want the money, make sure every box is ticked. Read the guidelines, read them again, ask questions, read them again. Think carefully about applying
  2. Be clear. As assessors, with deadlines ourselves, we don’t have a lot of time to work out what you are doing. If you are really clear in the first 200 words, it saves us searching through 15 attachments trying to work it out
  3. Purpose of a grant.  The Commonwealth Grant Guidelines say the purpose of a grant is to meet one or more ‘National Policy Objectives’. Write your application in the knowledge that the Australian Government is providing money so you can do their work for them. Read the guidelines, do your research, work out which national policy objective it falls under and how your project achieves it
  4. Show you can deliver. A great project plan, risk management plan, and clear ideas provide the confidence that you can deliver. If you have a delivered grant already, and completed the paperwork properly, refer to it. You will be ahead of the pack
  5. Have passion.  If you want to stand out, then be proud of your community, your council and your project. Be passionate about the multiple benefits the project will provide both locally and nationally. This includes promotion in innovate ways. Show that you can do more than place a sign under a bush and a small post on your website.
  6. Be different. Make the application interesting by being different. Any council can plant trees, change the light globes, build a tourist information centre or clean up graffiti. If you are creative and innovate and show that you are adding value, such as contributing to the national policy objective, you will get noticed.
So, in conclusion, ensure that you comply with the guidelines, are clear about your project, contribute to a national policy objective, show confidence in delivery, have passion and do something different. These are the starting points that can help your council on the way to a more successful application, and to more money for local government.

*Copy supplied by Section51