By Kathy Richardson, Our Community Executive Director and Chaos Controller
Posted: July 28, 2017
If you're a university researcher, a business looking to ramp up, or any one of Australia's 600,000 not-for-profit organisations, you can't avoid the world of grants.
Around $26 billion is given out in grants across Australia every year. They're dispensed by local councils, state and federal government departments and agencies, by family foundations, community foundations, and corporate foundations. Each funder is looking for a different outcome, but few to none have no expectations about outcomes - grants aren't gifts; they come with strings attached .
Good outcomes are not guaranteed, however, and countless auditors' reports have shown that many millions of dollars worth of grants have been wasted on projects that did not work or whose lessons were not heeded. Common problems include poor program design, inadequate technical and administrative systems, and too much outside interference in the selection process.
That's not acceptable. As we point out in our Grantmaking Manifesto, every grant dollar should produce the maximum benefit for Australian society. Every grant should be both efficient (conducted at the minimum cost and in the minimum time) and effective (producing socially and/or economically valuable outcomes). Every grant should be based on a coherent and plausible rationale. Every grant should be awarded on the basis of clear, transparent, and publicly accessible criteria. Every grant should be an improvement on the last grant.
Since 2006, Our Community has set out to find out how this mass movement of funds can be better managed by speaking to those who know the problems best - grantseekers and grant recipients.
The Grants in Australia study is the biggest research program of its kind.
In 2017 we set our data scientist loose on the 1200 responses from the latest survey, as well as data from all previous years. The result is a report that digs deeper and offers more insights into grantmaking in Australia than ever before.
We've pulled all of this information into a comprehensive report, as well as distilling the lessons for grantmakers and grantseekers into two practical Action Sheets. We've also produced a series of benchmarking tool to allow not-for-profit organisations to compare their grantseeking activities against organisations of the same size, or from the same sector.
All of this is available at www.ourcommunity.com.au/grants2017.