In this environment, managing and leading a non-profit is becoming more and more of a challenge, and let’s talk about the white elephant in the room… the ongoing challenge we face attracting outside funding!
Stop and really assess what’s in your own backyard
A non-profit perspective
Whilst many of you may be familiar with identifying and applying for funding, are you really giving justice to all the time and heartache you spend on these submissions?
There are so many angles and ways to approach a submission and each is customised depending on funder priorities. It’s amazing how much of a story just their questions alone tell us if we really sit and analyse them… something those who are more experienced will do.
However, there are a few commonalities that any writer, beginner or advanced, need to include in tenders, award submissions, grants and sponsorship applications. By focusing our energies on addressing these we will be way ahead of our competitors – well, at least the ones that haven’t attended one of my workshops or aren’t reading this article! So if you apply this information you are more likely to be successful – as have hundreds of people I have trained across Australia.
The commonalities are what I call the Four Abilities TM – Accountability, Capability, Viability and Sustainability. This is a model I’ve been developing for some years. It covers the four key areas that all sponsors and funders are looking for in submissions.
So, how does that translate to your submissions? Here are a few questions to ask as you sit down to write.
Accountability: You will need to demonstrate that you have governance processes in place. Most funders want to ensure that you comply with statutory requirements such as conflicts of interest and confidentiality. Do you have a code of conduct or a confidentiality agreement? Do you have a register of interests you maintain? Do you have policies and procedures that are used and updated? What are your risk identification and management practices like? What about an audit? What are the accountability systems you have in place to govern the project and your organisation?
Viability: Are you a viable organisation? Do you have a track record for delivering similar programs? Do you have any ‘skeletons in the closet’ like funding projects that have previously gone awry? Do you have enough cash at bank to cover liabilities – are you solvent? Is the program you are proposing really going to work in your community? Just because it’s worked in another community well, doesn’t mean it will work well in yours. Is the project right for the target users, have you forgotten or missed any user groups that would benefit?
Capability: Who is leading the project? Do they have the skills, knowledge and capacity to deliver? If you are going to use volunteers, will they be available to help you out with all those tasks and maybe extra hours… really? What experience exists on your project committee or board, do you have a project manager? Why should your organisation receive funding over another organisation – what makes you better? Do you have better relationships with the target group/s and evidence of this with examples?
Sustainability: How will the project continue on beyond the funding you are receiving? How will the outcomes and outputs you have identified continue beyond the funding? Will this project really benefit your organisation – is it going to help you become more sustainable? If not, it may sound like a ‘cash-grab’ so why are you doing it?
By addressing these points in the relevant questions throughout your application you will demonstrate that your organisation and the project is a low risk and that you are the best organisation to partner with the funding body to achieve their/your goals.
We also recommend Easy Grants newsletter for news on funding opportunities and grants from www.ourcommunity.com.au
As a speaker, trainer and community development consultant I assists non-profits and small businesses to establish better governance practices and operational procedures, identifying new revenue and leveraging existing opportunities, community engagement, brand management and stakeholder communications.