Finding the right grant
There are literally hundreds of grant funding programs available supporting an enormous range of activities. The challenge is to find the best options.
Trawling through government websites can be tedious and frustrating. Most people simply don’t have the time to do this. Subscriptions to databases are available, although most focus on research and community grants. Online databases provide quick and easy searching by category, industry, geography, etc., all in one place. For business related grants we recommend GrantGuru (www.grantguru.com.au).
If you are not using a database source, Government Departments usually provide detailed information for the programs they run. Some agencies produce e-bulletins or newsletters that detail funding opportunities. Ask to be placed on their mailing list for all future program announcements.
Most funding programs are advertised in the media, particularly when they are announced as being open for applications. State and Federal Members also provide a media release to announce new programs.
When you find a grant program, don’t try to read all of the available information, unless it has already been summarised into the key eligibility criteria. Later on you can read more details on the most promising ones.
Double dipping – beware!
Some grants may preclude you from applying for others at the same time, or for the same activities. You may have to quarantine the grant amount received and an equivalent amount of your own expenditure (called “clawback”) and not use these funds to contribute towards further grant applications or other projects.
Be prepared and save time
As you find grants you will need to determine your eligibility. Most programs ask you to answer certain questions. If you have answers prepared, you will be able to quickly assess your eligibility. We recommend you prepare answers to the following questions:
• What is your structure? (eg company, partnership, etc.)
• Is your company incorporated in Australia? If so, in what year?
• Are you part of a group of companies? If so, what is the level of ownership and where are the other companies located?
• Are you in profit, or in loss?
• What was your income from sales in the last financial year?
• Do you wish to recoup costs or access a grant upfront?
• Do you own IP for your product, or have effective ownership?
• Where will your activities be undertaken?
• Do your activities contain innovation or technical challenge?
• Are you able to contribute to the project with cash or in-kind?
• Are you currently receiving Government grants or funding?
• Do you have prior years financials and a business plan?
Remember, at this stage there is no right or wrong answer. Each program is different and may require a different answer in each case.
Know the essentials
Review your list of grants to decide which ones seem most promising. Most funding programs will produce a Fact Sheet, Application Form, Program Guidelines, Previous Successful Applicants and a Contractual Agreement. Use these documents to help make your selections.
Some programs are always open, but others operate in rounds and may only be open once or twice a year. Try to find out before a round is announced when it may open, because the closing dates are often short and favour those organisations that have pre-prepared.
Most programs have upper funding limits. You should always ask for the amount you need. Don’t just expect to make up the difference or somehow find additional funds later on. You may do well to seek less than the possible maximum. Previously awarded grants provide a good indication.
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
Research project grants, The Cancer Council – close 28 March 2008
Round 3: Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) Small Business Program – close 15 February 2008
Round 4: Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation – close 29 February 2008
125% R&D Tax Concession – 30 April 2008 (for companies with financial year end 30 June)
Around the nation
NSW Energy grants programs, close 13 Feb 2008
VIC Legal Services Board Grants, close 14 March 2008 Public place recycling grants, close 7 March 2008
QLD BioStart and teQstart Investment Funds, currently open
SA Innovation grants – Commercialisation of products, close 18 Feb 2008
TAS Tasmanian Innovations Program –29 February 2008
WA Farm Water Grants Scheme, currently open