Hello! I’m Monika and I'm a Culture Counts Client Manager. Over the past seven years I have worked in development roles at not-for-profit and local council art organisations. I’d like to share some insights from my work helping arts and cultural organisations secure funding for their programs and projects.
Read the guidelines…. a lot!
Almost every grant will have different eligibility requirements and guidelines. It’s vital to make sure that you know whether you or your organisation are eligible to apply for certain grants based on a few basic things including whether you:
• Have an ABN
• Have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status
• Are eligible for certain tax concessions
• Are registered with the ACNC
Look at what types of projects the organisation body will fund, whether that is theatre, music, education etc. Also look at the exceptions they may have in terms of the budget. Some funders for example won’t provide funding for salaries or capital works but will support costs associated with programming materials or production fees.
Give them a call
Give the funding body a call to discuss your project. Many of them have this as a requirement but it’s a good habit to get into even if they don’t. Have a few specific questions prepared about how your project aligns with their guidelines, rather than just telling them about your project. By speaking to someone directly, you may be able to get some insights about what the funders are looking for that aren’t in the guidelines.
They also might tell you that your project doesn’t sound like it is what the selection panel are looking for. This is good too because you won’t be wasting your time on something that will be unsuccessful.
Write the budget first
Once you’ve read the guidelines, given them a call and decided that your project fits the grant available, start the application by writing the budget. This way, you know exactly how much you will be asking for and what resources you’ll need to achieve the project. Writing the remainder of the application—including questions about inputs, outputs and outcomes—can be much easier once you know what you are asking for. Also, be sure to check the guidelines for whether the budget should include or exclude GST.
Stick to the word limit
It’s tempting to provide more information than what is asked for in a grant application because you want to show the potential funder just how excellent your project will be. It’s important however to stick to the word limit and support material guidelines. Funders receive an overwhelming amount of applications so it’s important to limit them to a certain length for easy comparison and assessment. Don’t just fill the word limit because you feel like you have to. Being concise and clear about your project is just as important.
Ask for feedback
It can be disheartening when an application you have spent so much time and energy on is unsuccessful. When this happens, take some time to ask for feedback from the funding body. Some may not be able to provide this due to the volume of applications, but some may be very happy to discuss your application with you. It’s sometimes better to email and set up a time to chat rather than calling them out of the blue. The feedback you receive could help you write the winning application next time around.