All grant funding programs have criteria against which your application is judged. There are two types of criteria – eligibility criteria and assessment criteria (sometimes called selection or qualitative criteria). Every grant program has eligibility criteria. These are the ones that are a Yes/No – you are either eligible or you are not.
Eligibility criteria can be based on a number of things such as:
Entity Type. This means what kind of an organisation you are. Grants are rarely for individuals (with the exception being some arts and sports grants). The type of organisation you are – local government, incorporated not for profit association, trust etc will be part of the eligibility criteria.
Entity Details. Sometimes eligibility criteria includes things like your annual revenue or the number of staff your organisation employs and only if you have the correct number are you eligible for the grant.
Location. Grants may be for the entire of Australia, just for one State or for regional areas or limited to one local government area. Location is always part of the eligibility criteria.
The important thing to know about eligibility criteria is that you can’t talk your way around it – you are either eligible or not. Assessors will not read the rest of your application if you are not eligible. If you are in any doubt about your eligibility for a grant ALWAYS contact the funding body to ask them before you start the work of applying for the grant.
With grant programs that are non-competitive, eligibility criteria is the only criteria included in the application – they will give the money to all eligible projects (for example: grants for COVID impacted businesses that can prove at least a 50% drop in income over a certain period).
However, for competitive grant programs (i.e. ones that you have to compete with other projects for a limited pool of funding), once you’ve completed the eligibility criteria responses, you also need to address the assessment criteria. Now some grants are very clear and after all the eligibility and organisational questions they label a section “Assessment Criteria”. Others just ask a list of both eligibility questions and those designed to compare you against other projects without it being clear which are the assessment criteria. Either way, you need to be aware that you will be scored.
Assessment criteria are how the assessors rank your project; how they score your application and compare you to other applications to determine who gets the money. They are therefore VERY important. These questions are trying to determine whether your project will give the funding body the outcomes they are trying to achieve and whether your organisation is capable of delivering the project.
In relation to assessment criteria, you need to make sure your answers are:
- Not one or two sentences long when you are given a word limit of 500 words!
- Answering the question that is asked.
- Detailed enough for the assessor to understand what you are doing, why, how and what the benefits will be.
- Aligned to the reason the grant money is being given away (i.e. the outcomes the grant funding is paying for).
- Backed up by evidence – provide evidence in the form of research, quotes or attachments to support your claims.
That explains the two types of grant criteria you may come across in your grant funding journey – good luck with your application!