Tips for Writing Grant Applications
There's no magical secret to writing a successful grant application, but there are some things that you can do to improve your chances of getting funding.
1. Decide Exactly What You Want to Do or What Kind of Grant You Need
Before you even start to look for funding, make sure that you are clear in your own mind what type of project you want to do, what kind of grant you require and why you want it. Answering these questions for yourself will help you heaps with everything else involved in this process.
2. Identify Sources of Funding
Check out our Grants and where to find them page in this section for links to comprehensive lists of grants available in Victoria and Australia.
Community websites, newspapers and newsletters of various community organisations also publish information about grants from time to time. Pay attention to those publications in your sphere of interest for any suitable opportunities that may arise.
Keep an ear out on social media networks too - especially Twitter. Heaps of community organisations are on Twitter, and often tweet the programs that they and other organisations are running. (Hint: a good place to start might be @youthcentralvic ;P )
3. Address the Guidelines
Just as you would target a resume and cover letter for each job you apply for, you also need to tailor each grant application to that particular organisation.
Get a copy of the grant guidelines and application forms in advance of the submission deadline and read them carefully. It'd be frustrating to get halfway through your application and then discover that your project doesn't really fit the guidelines or you that do not have the proper information required to complete the application.
Allow plenty of time to complete all the application requirements to meet the submission deadline.
Make sure your submission directly addresses program guidelines.
Some grants aren't open to the general public and only accept applications from organisations, not individuals or groups of individuals. That doesn't mean you can't still apply - you might just have to find an auspice organisation to help you with the application. For more about this, check out our Auspice Organisations page.
4. Do Some Research
You should definitely talk to the funding agency that's running the grant program for advice on their requirements. It also helps to talk to other people or agencies that you know have received funding and find out how they did it. Often the organisation offering the grant has a website they'll have information about previous recipients. Failing that, you can always search online for the name of the grant.
If you're trying to get a community project off the ground, make sure you find out as much as you can about the local community and your target audience. For example, you could run a survey in that community and use the feedback you get as part of your application.
Check out secondary sources of information. Your local council (new window) will probably have a heap of information about the local area, including statistics and data. They might even have a staff member who can help you with your submission - it always helps to ask!
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (new window) also has a wealth of statistical data that may support your submission.
If you're required to submit a budget with your application, make sure you:
- Are accurate and realistic - the funding organisation will spot the inconsistencies and this will reflect badly on your application
- Don't cut corners to be more competitive
- Find out appropriate rates of pay
- Don't forget overheads you might need (like WorkCover, insurances, office supplies, rent, etc.)
- Get more than one quote for any equipment you will have to buy
- Relate any necessary equipment purchases to the aims of the project
- Note your own contribution to the project, both your financial input and time commitment
Include profiles or resumes of yourself and any other people involved in the project if required to do so. Our How to Write a Resume page has some great resume writing tips.
5. Present Your Submission Well
When writing your submission and organising all the data you need to collect, make sure you:
- Are clear about what you want to achieve
- Use clear language and avoid jargon
- Present only relevant supporting material (e.g. graphs, tables, graphics) and make sure it's presented clearly
- Structure your submission so that it is easy to follow (include a table of contents, index, appendix, etc.)
- Get someone to proofread the submission to make sure there are no pesky typos in there
- Keep a full copy of your submission for your own records
6. Follow Up Your Submission
After you submit your application, it's a good idea to call the organisation to make sure your submission was received OK and that it was all in good order.
It also helps to try and drum up support for your project through other agencies, your local community or your local Members of Parliament (who you can find using the search tool at www.parliament.vic.gov.au (new window).
Keep a record of all discussions and contacts with the funding bodies and if you make any promises to do things, make sure you confirm those promises in writing (and then do them, of course!).
7. Take a Deep Breath!
Well done! You've done all the hard work, got the application in, and now it's time to relax. The decision is now in the hands of the funding body.
Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure - Grants
The DTPLI website provides some excellent background information on Victorian Government grants.
Office for Youth - Grants
An alphabetical list of available youth grants.
ourcommunity.com.au - Community Funding Centre
Tools, tips, ideas and information about getting funding for your community project and read about the success stories of others.
Find grants available through the Australian Government.
A comprehensive funding database, with more than 3000 sources of financial support for study, travel, research, business and professional development, the arts, sport and community projects.