Grants and your Partnership – Widen your View to Increase your Grant-Gaining Chances

When your partnership is looking for grant opportunities, it can be very easy to have blinkered vision and simply search for programs in a narrow field – most likely, the field in which you operate.

But by widening your view and thinking about what your partnership does, who it works with, what sort of programs it organises and how it operates, you can quickly increase the options you have to gain money from grant programs.

A Wide View of What you Do

Your partnership may fall into the trap of imposing "boundaries" on itself and categorising your work just in terms of the field it is primarily working in – for example:
  • Social issues.
  • Arts and culture.
  • Education/learning.
  • Sport.
  • Employment/training.

But limiting your perception of what you are doing in your partnership to just its primary focus can also see you miss out on grant opportunities in other areas that your partnership also touches on.

Think about this – if your partnership works to stage a regular festival or event, that is your primary focus and could see your partnership limit its search to festival-related grants.

However, if you lift your sight and look at your partnership's activities more generally – or what it aims to achieve - other opportunities may present themselves.

Using the example of a festival, your partnership could easily say the event:
  • Builds community capacity
  • Encourages the arts or culture
  • Works with volunteers
  • Provides training in event management and organisational issues
  • Works with certain sectors of the community – young people, older people, children, etc.

So, without lifting your sight and looking at your partnership from a wider viewpoint, you may miss out on considering a number of grant programs – and therefore miss out on money from these programs that you may well be eligible for.

While it's a good thing to have a clear idea of your mission and your goals it's also a good idea for organisations and people to take another look at their self-imposed boundaries and see if they're not selling themselves short.

Just because you do one thing well doesn't mean that you're not doing other things just as well; and it may be easier to get funding for those other things. All it takes is a little lateral thinking.

Take Another Look – and Break New Ground

Your partnership should also take the time to see how far it can extend your areas of common interest with the grantmakers.

Again, using the festival event as an example, your partnership should look at what sort of new audiences or new groups of participants are involved in organising and staging the festival.

In doing that, ask yourself - could you get credit and funding if you reached out to different groups? Could you involve older people? Younger people? Indigenous or ethnic groups? People with disabilities?

There are also things that you can do with your current membership that could bring you into the area of interest of other sets of grantmakers. Continuing the festival example, does the event encourage or promote:
  • Increasing sun protection, or SunSmart behaviour?
  • Reducing injury or the risk of injury?
  • Greater religious and multicultural tolerance?
  • Responsible behaviour in a certain sector of the community, or.
  • More knowledge of laws and legal issues?
If that is the case, there are probably groups or grantmakers around who are willing to fund all these things. They could also be able to help you if they can see that your project or program will lead to a changed attitude or behaviour in the community or help to promote such an outcome.

Lateral thinking and Finding Additional Partners

Alternatively, this sort of lateral thinking and looking more deeply at the areas your partnership covers can also draw to your partnership's attention opportunities to work with additional partners. Using the festival example again:
  • If your partnership touches on legal matters, maybe it could recruit a law firm or solicitor as a partner.
  • If your work involves promoting safety or responsible behaviour in the community, ambulance, police of fire authorities could be possible partners.
  • Working towards greater tolerance could see your partnership recruit the support of local churches or multicultural groups.
Recruiting or working with addtional partners can further multiply the benefits of what you do through expert advice and extra resources.

Casting your Net

In order to benefit from the interest of grantmakers, you need to find out what granting opportunities exist in all the areas you overlap. Grants funding often falls under one of the following categories:
  • Animals
  • Arts and culture
  • Children and family
  • Community services and development
  • Disability
  • Economic development
  • Education, employment and training
  • Emergency and safety
  • Environment, conservation and heritage
  • Faith and spirituality
  • General community grants
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Indigenous
  • Infrastructure
  • International
  • Multicultural
  • Older people
  • Rural and regional development
  • Science and technology
  • Sport and recreation
  • Women
  • Youth
As previously mentioned, the primary purpose of your partnership's activity will most likely fall under one of these headings.

But - and we use the example of a festival again – your activities could also fall under any number of other headings: maybe you have a series of multicultural displays included in your festival, or some educational, environmental, young person-related or other attractions planned.

If you do, there are several other categories of funding you could look for grants under.

A great way to find funding sources is to call on the services of You can subscribe to the Easy Grants newsletter and access the online grant search database.

Try it – Do some Brainstorming

Have a brainstorming session to see how far the effects of your influence extend. Ask yourself these questions:
  • What would be the outcome for your community if you didn't exist?
  • What else would change?
  • Which of life's activities do you touch?
  • Which parts of the life course?
  • Which elements in society?
  • How many different demographic groups in the wider community benefit from your work?

Making your Case

After brainstorming and examining alternative grants programs you can apply for, it is time to sit down, apply and make your partnership's case to the grantmakers.

And when it comes to making your case, there are a few pointers you should follow. For more information on the processes you should follow, refer to the Grants and Your Partnership Help Sheets available under the Now You're Involved heading of the Community and Business Partnerships section of the Our Community website.

While these Help Sheets include many of the tips and hints you'll need to know – as well as what to include in your submission – two key points to remember are these: to examine carefully the grant program you are applying for, and thoroughly prepare your submission.