Grant writing is a specialist art. Writing from the heart or what you think an assessor wants to hear is not usually the best approach. Here are our top tips for preparing a great application.
Know the rules
Constructing a grant application is not like constructing IKEA furniture. You must read the guidelines first to find out how the application will be assessed.
Phone the program administrators.
Calling is a great chance to find out key information that is not published. Some basic questions can be really helpful.
• What type of projects are they really seeking?
• What size grants do they expect to award?
• How many applications have been lodged?
• What don’t they want?
• Can someone in the agency review the draft application?
• Also, request feedback on your project/idea
Make note of their name in case you need to call them again.
Get an edge
There are more applications received than money available. So you need to show there is a match between your project and their funding aims. Also you must demonstrate how your project has an edge on everyone else. This sounds easy but most people forget and wax lyrical about how good they are. Of course you love your project, but they may not. Think about it from their perspective. If you were to assess all of the applications, what would make your project stand out?
Time to start writing
Make sure you have the correct and up-to-date form. An old version may not be accepted! Then, follow these 10 tips:
1. Organise your thoughts. Many people cannot explain their project in less than half an hour (Yawn!). Practise your elevator pitch. You must be able to explain your project to a stranger in two minutes – especially the ‘reason for the project’ and its aim.
2. Read each question first and think about your answer before responding.
3. Write your application as though the person reading it knows nothing about your organisation or your project. Never assume anything is obvious to the reader.
4. Keep your answers simple and concise. Make the reading of your application easy and use familiar words rather than jargon.
5. Use simple and consistent formatting. I really find it helpful to see headings, bullet points and diagrams. They make it easier for the reader to navigate through your document.
6. Where appropriate, include photos, maps and diagrams to portray key information.
7. Sometimes a question seems to appear twice. They won’t want the same information twice, so check the guidelines for clarification or call your program contact for help.
8. Don’t leave anything blank. Complete all boxes and write N/A if a question doesn’t apply to you.
9. If the application has a word limit – stick to it! Remember, someone has to read it quickly, so don’t write a thesis.
10. Always have your draft read by another person, preferably someone not involved in your project.
List the activities required to achieve your goal. Add a timeframe to each step and group them into major milestones. Set a realistic timeframe and include provision for delays.
Attach supporting information
Most grant bodies will want to see supporting documentation for your project, such as financials, letters of support, business plans, etc. Start as early as possible since these may take some time.
Submitting your application
It is so obvious, but we have to mention it – make sure you submit your application in time! Late applications are not accepted. Read all the details about lodgement because they do vary.
Adrian Spencer is a dedicated grants specialist who assists organisations across Australia to access State and Federal Government grants, rebates and concessions. Prior to establishing GrantReady, he worked for leading international accounting and mining firms. www.grantready.com.au
R&D Tax Concession – close 30 April
ICE WARM International Visits & Exchanges – close 24 April
Industry & Cultural Development Touring – close 21 April
Tactical Research Fund – close 1 May
Australian Museum Eureka Prizes – close 2 May
|Around the nation
NSW BioFirst Commercialisation Award – close 25 April
VIC Dairy Farm Gate Access Scheme – close 30 April
QLD Queensland BioCapital Fund – now open
SA SAFC Short Film Fund – close 7 April
TAS Recreation Grants Program – close 30 April
WA Business Development Scheme – now open