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Grant Application Myths – and How to Get Round Them

August 05th, 2016

Philanthropic services manager at Philanthropy Australia Chris Wootton looks at the common myths and some clear “work-arounds” for preparing and submitting grant applications.

Preparing and submitting grant applications is a time consuming task – which more often than not, ends in disappointment! However, this does not have to be the case if we recognise some of the most common myths and look at ways to “work-round” them.

1. There are lots of funds available?

Grant funding comprises a very small percentage of funds available to Not for Profits. Recognising this early will avoid disappointment and lower expectations. There are far too many organisations seeking funding for very worthy causes – for example 78.6 per cent of respondents to the Grants In Australia Survey (2006 to 2014) indicated that they were reliant on government grants – and 10.6 per cent were reliant on philanthropic grants[1].  Always look at your proposal through the eyes of a funder, eg they are often looking for gaps or new ways to address challenges. Ask yourself: is it possible that another organisation may apply for something similar? If so, you need to work out what makes your organisation, your approach and your proposal unique?

2. If I am unsuccessful – it must have been my application?

It may not be the case. Even if your application meets all specified criteria, addresses gaps and is highly innovative etc. it does not guarantee success. For example, a survey undertaken in 2012 by Queensland University of Technology found that 75 per cent of research applications were unsuccessful[2]. This low success rate is due to many factors such as: insufficient funds available, the funder may have already committed funds in your cause area or geographic area, you may have already been funded recently – as some funders prefer to share funds around etc. To reduce this from occurring contacts the funder, if you are able to do so. Try and ascertain their current and future interests and priorities, find out what has been funded recently, determine who actually makes the decisions eg the trustees, a committee or an expert panel – as this will affect greatly the application content required.

3. Writing an application is easy!

All applications take time to prepare appropriately and if you do not have time available – don’t start! Often you also have to obtain information from many other staff in your organisation and this also takes time – before you can even start the application process. It is no wonder that a report by the Australian Institute of Grants Management found that 28 per cent of applications, once commenced were never even submitted[3].

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In conversation with Daniel Lee of the Levi Strauss Foundation

In conversation with Nicole Richards at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, Daniel Lee shared his insights on topics including the role of philanthropy as a driver of systems change which addresses root causes of social challenges, the relationship between philanthropy and government and what the new political environment in the United States means for philanthropy.

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