Grant Myth 1: Only charities and community organisations can get grants.
This is not true! Although there are more grants around for not-for-profits, there is also a large amount of support out there for small businesses. The government wants you to succeed because you create jobs and grow the economy, so they will help you with grants and other forms of assistance.
Grant Myth 2: It’s too hard to find a grant.
The only organisations that will provide grants to for-profit businesses are governments. This narrows down the places you need to look considerably; to Federal, State and Local government.
Federal Government grants are very easy to find. You can sign up to Grant Connect at grants.gov.au where all Federal Government grants are advertised. Select your key words, set up your profile and you will receive an email notifying you of any open and upcoming grants that match your requirements.
State Governments may not have a one-stop shop but they each have a department that focuses on businesses e.g. Business Victoria. Any grants for businesses will be advertised on that department’s website. They also advertise on social media so ‘like’ the department’s pages on Facebook, Twitter or whichever platform you prefer.
Local governments vary in what they offer but some do provide business assistance and incentives. I suggest you contact them directly to ask.
Grant Myth 3: I don’t have the expertise or time to write a grant.
Everyone is busy, which only increases your chances if you are one of the few who do take the time to work on your business and submit an application. As for expertise, let me cover the most common grant writing mistakes so you can avoid these and become more of an expert than many people who submit applications!
Not planning your project
Poorly planned projects stick out like a sore thumb to grant assessors and typically lack the amount of information or detail required to make a quality application. Remember, your assessor needs to have enough detail to decide;
- Whether or not you are capable of doing the project they are paying for, and
- Whether your project will deliver the outcomes they want.
When applying for a grant, the bulk of the work should be done before you even start writing. You need to decide what you are going to do, how you are going to do it and gather quotes and evidence to back up your claims.
Not answering the question.
Many people lose sight of the question and write what they think assessors want to hear. You don’t need to use emotive language and ‘sell’ your project; you need to answer the question well. The selection or assessment criteria is what your application is scored against so I suggest you print them out and stick them to your computer before you start writing. This will help you to refer to them while you’re writing and ensure that you answer the criteria. Make sure you go back and check each answer against the criteria before you submit the application.
Thinking about yourself.
You need to think about the organisation that is giving away the money. Why are they providing funds – what do they want to achieve by giving away money? You then need to tailor your project and your application to make sure it meets the funding body’s objectives.
Also consider what their concerns might be about giving you money and address those concerns. Think about how you can prove to them that you are capable and trustworthy of spending their funds wisely and completing the project. You can do this by providing previous examples of your successes, having a well-planned project and attaching evidence of any claims you make.
Not addressing all of the 6 Key Project Questions
No matter the size or type of grant, there are 6 key project questions that you must always answer. They are:
- Why? Why is your project needed? You need to prove that your project is needed and that you need funding to do the project.
- What? What are you delivering? What exactly will you do with the money?
- How? How will you complete the project? What steps/tasks will you take to deliver the project?
- When? What is the timeline of your project? This should be broken down into realistic timeframes for each task.
- Viability? This means showing the assessor that you are capable and able to deliver the project (e.g. Your project management is sufficient, key stakeholders are committed and you have planned the project) and,
- Cost? Detail how much your project will cost and provide quotes as evidence.
I recommend you go back through the finished application and tick off that these questions have been answered somewhere in your application.
If your business could benefit from grant funding, take a look at what is available in your area and set aside some time to get the application right – it could be worth thousands!
If you need help finding or applying for grants, you can contact me, Tara Whitney, at Whitney Consulting,
Whitney Consulting – Tara Whitney
Tara is the founder of Whitney Consulting, a Pingelly based consultancy that focuses on project planning and funding submissions for regional and community development.