Top 10 findings: Grants in Australia 2017

August 20, 2017 by in Blog

The latest research findings on grants in Australia has been released.

Innovation Lab, an enterprise of recently published Grants in Australia: Annual research findings for Australian grantseekers and grantmakers, July 2017.

The top 10 findings are listed, along with relevant comments, grant tips and experience from Indigo Gold.

  1. Big organisations are picking up smaller grants, and seeking more help. The larger the not-for-profit organisation, the more grants it is likely to have applied for. Large organisations are not just winning large grants, they’re scooping up many of the small grants (less than $5000) on offer as well. Large organisations are also more likely to seek help from a grantmaker.  Indigo Gold comment: All the little amounts add up, so don’t miss out, especially as some of the smaller grants don’t require a lot of work.  You will find all the grants $10,000 or under in Small Grant Snippets – our second grant list available for subscription for just $75 plus GST.  Head to our Grants page to subscribe.
  2. Local governments are shouldering more of the grants load. State and territory governments are the most relied-upon source of grants, but their importance is declining over time, while local government is becoming a more important source of grants over time. Local government is particularly important for small organisations. The larger the organisation, the more likely it is to rely on the Federal Government as its primary source of grants.  Indigo Gold comment: This is certainly true.  Grants being offered by Local Governments are numerous and range from 1,000 grants through to $80,000 or more, depending on the size of the Council’s resources.  They cover a range of topics: environment, community, arts, minor grants, significant events, health, sport, club development, and many more.
  3. Corporates continue to lag as a funding source. Corporate grantmaking in Australia was building as an important source of funds for not-for-profits between 2007 and 2010, but fell away since then, and has not yet recovered to 2010 levels.  Indigo Gold comment: Since commencing the Company a few years ago, corporates and philanthropy have been providing much less funding opportunities.  In the last 12 months, many corporates have reduced the frequency of grant rounds.
  4. Grantseekers report increasing success. Not-for-profit organisations are reporting either stable or increasing grantseeking success. Whether that’s a reflection of more grants being available, or organisations getting better at getting grants is a moot point. Sport and recreation-based groups, and arts and culture organisations apply for fewer grants than organisations from other segments of the not-for-profit sector.   Indigo Gold comment: Many sport and recreation-based groups rely on volunteers, many of which have regular jobs in addition to the hours they spend volunteering.  Consequently, it is difficult to spend the amount of time necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities, so many organisations miss out.  The key for smaller groups is: to ensure that you have an efficient system for your grant writing; spread the various elements of grant applications between the entire committee so that the same person doesn’t get left with all the work; make sure you focus on applying for grants that are a great fit to your organisation so that you have the best chance of success.
  5. Unsubmitted applications are still a huge waste of time. Ideally, anyone who made a decision to apply for a grant would proceed to submission, but a huge amount of time is being wasted on applications that are started then abandoned. More than half (54%) of the organisations we surveyed said they’d started an application that they didn’t end up submitting.  Indigo Gold comment: Unfortunately this is often the case as we often get calls from organisations wanting us to help with applications that are due to be submitted in a few days – provides a great deal of stress for all!  It is important to have common documents that you need to upload as attachments for grant applications, updated and easy to access by all committee members.  If you are wanting to put in for infrastructure, start the process of gathering site plans, quotes, needs analyses, permissions to build, and all the other bits and pieces that will be required, as soon as your committee or organisation has made the decision build.
  6. There’s lots of room for improvement in good practice grantmaking. Multi-year grants and grants for core costs are getting harder to get, despite ongoing campaigns to encourage more of this type of funding, while a third of grantseekers report difficulties in forming a meaningful relationship with a grantmaker. It’s hard to see how these things might improve, given that very few grantseekers are invited to provide feedback to grantmakers on how their constituents rate their performance.  Indigo Gold comment: When starting your application process, try to develop a relationship with the grantmaker via their relevant staff.  Some organisations and government departments keep records of who has called and appreciate people clarifying issues.  For example, by discussing queries with the grantmaker, you can ensure that you: don’t send too many attachments; increase the chance of your application being successful/being compliant; having specific queries sorted out before the due date.
  7. Grantmakers, if you only do one thing this year … The standout area for grantmaker improvement is in giving feedback to unsuccessful applicants. After a decade of taking the pulse on this issue, grantseekers still highlight this as a key pain point.  Indigo Gold comment: It certainly is difficult to get some organisations to provide feedback.  Often they will only give general comments.  
  8. Grantmakers like outcomes reporting. Paying for the reports … not so much Grantmakers’ enthusiasm for outcomes measurement is not matched by their enthusiasm for funding it. Grantseekers are overwhelmingly funding their own outcomes measurement activities. Indigo Gold comment: You certainly need to ensure that you gather statistics before, during and after projects so that the benefits can be seen.  ‘Soft evaluation’ techniques can be done quite easily and cheaply, and as long as this is done from the start and measured along the whole process.  For those that don’t do this from the start of the project, it will become increasingly difficult to work backwards and will add a lot of pressure by the end of the final acquital process.
  9. Online forms are the future. Grantseekers’ preference switched from offline electronic forms to online electronic forms around 2013, but the shift to online electronic grant application forms is not yet complete. While these types of forms are now the most favoured and most encountered forms, a good chunk of grantmakers are continuing to use offline electronic forms (fillable PDFs and Word documents) to collect applications.  Indigo Gold comment: Many organisations, including Councils are using processes such as SmartyGrants for their applications.  This can have positives – it tends to keep things familiar, and negatives – such as limiting the insertion of diagrams and tables into your answers.  Consequently, you have to get very creative about what you upload as attachments.
  10. Habits of successful grantseekers. Successful grantseekers are more likely than unsuccessful grantseekers to form a relationship with grantmakers. Successful grantseekers are less likely than unsuccessful grantseekers to start an application form they don’t take through to completion.  Indigo Gold comment: As mentioned in Tip 6, I always try to make contact with grantmakers.  It is usually pretty obvious early on whether they are wanting to have a relationship with you or not. If they are, the trick is to not contact them too much, but rather, keep a list of all the things you wish to ask and cover the various items in just a couple of communications.  Sometimes, it is best to put queries in an email, so that you get written clarifications back.

The complete report can be found here.