With a large number of grants out there, the different rules and requirements to complete an application can get very confusing. If you’re trying to complete applications yourself, then the key is to focus on getting the grant criteria right.
Firstly, there are two sets of criteria you need to be concerned with; Eligibility Criteria and what is known as either Selection, Assessment or Grant Criteria (we’ll call it Selection Criteria). Eligibility criteria is pretty straight forward – if you don’t meet it then you’re not eligible for that grant so don’t waste your time. Usually eligibility centres around three things:
- The type of organisation – incorporated/not for profit/commercial business/local government etc.
- The type of project – infrastructure/community benefits project/Aboriginal employment and the list goes on.
- The location of the project – regional or remote areas, within a certain local government area.
The rest of the Eligibility Criteria fall out of these three main areas. This is the first thing you should check when you are looking at a grant – and check each listed criterion in detail. Putting hours of effort in to applying for a grant you’re not eligible for can be heart breaking!
The Selection Criteria is what you get scored against. So, when an assessor reads your application, they will mark you against each of these criteria, which makes these guys very important. You might have a fabulously innovative project that your organisation will deliver all on its own, but if one of the selection criteria is Partnerships and collaborations, then your project is not going to win the grant.
- Answer the Question!! Don’t lose sight of the question and write what you think they want to hear. We all know our projects so well that there is a big risk (and it is something I often see when reviewing applications) of trying to ‘sell’ your project. You write about why you think your project is fabulous but forget to answer the actual question. Print the selection criteria out and stick them to your computer before you start writing. This will help you to refer to them throughout the application and ensure that you address the criteria. Check each answer against the criteria before you submit.
- Ask yourself ‘Why?’ Why is this organisation providing funds – what do they want to achieve by giving away money? Why should they give the money to my organisation – how can we prove to them that we will spend their money wisely and we will achieve their aims? In writing grant applications, you should always put yourself in the assessor’s shoes and question everything – why are you doing the project that way? Why is yours the best project to solve the problem? Why do you think your cost estimate is correct? Embrace your inner 3-year-old child and just ask “why?!
- Always, always, always have someone who knows nothing about the project proof-read your application. Not your boss or colleague who is involved and will have a similar bias or knowledge-base. Ask someone external, who you know is a good written communicator, to review your application. You’ll be surprised by the kinds of questions they ask that you had assumed would be self-explanatory. Just make sure they are willing to put in the time to have a thorough read and that they know you WANT them to ask questions and critique it. Or, ask a professional like Whitney Consulting to cast an expert eye over your application before you submit it.