In a tough fundraising environment, we asked the experts what not-for-profit and community leaders…
There are fewer grants on offer as the year draws to a close, giving grantseekers an opportunity to take a step back and consider their grantseeking strategy.
To help your organisation prepare to win grants in 2023, we’ve examined Funding Centre data and the Grants in Australia research series to find out what works. Here’s what we found.
Summary: seven habits of successful grantseekers
Successful grantseekers have a lot of things in common. They tend to:
- become incorporated, or find an auspicing organisation
- connect to SmartyGrants via their Funding Centre dashboard
- build and maintain relationships with funders
- apply! If you don’t ask, you won’t get. Apply for more grants!
- submit their grant applications on time. They’re prepared!
- include references or letters of support with their applications.
- use the Funding Centre to find and manage grants via their dashboard.
Get incorporated (or find an auspice)
Most government and many philanthropic funders won’t provide grants to organisations without legal status.
This eligibility hurdle probably goes some way to explaining the low success rate of unincorporated organisations when it comes to winning grants. Our data shows that of users who use the full functionality of the Funding Centre dashboard, incorporated organisations have a grant-winning success rate of 70.5%, compared to unincorporated organisations at 29.5%
Your organisation doesn’t have to be incorporated to apply for grants, however. Unincorporated groups can use an auspicing organisation to apply on their behalf. If you’re not sure whether you want to remain unincorporated, or become a legal entity, our friends at the Institute of Community Directors Australia have produced a range of help sheets to help:
- Legal structures
- Incorporated associations
- Unincorporated associations
- Starting a not-for-profit organisation
For information about auspicing, check out Auspicing: partnerships, permissions and power on the Funding Centre website.
Connect to SmartyGrants
When we looked at users who use the full functionality of the Funding Centre dashboard, we found that the majority (two thirds) of successful grant applicants (that is, users who had won at least one grant) had connected their dashboard to their SmartyGrants account. Linking your SmartyGrants and Funding Centre accounts brings together all your current and historical SmartyGrants applications, so you can view all your applications in one place.
Learn how to connect your SmartyGrants account to your Funding Centre dashboard on the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Build and maintain relationships with funders
Organisations that invest time and effort in building and maintaining strong relationships with donors are the most successful fundraisers. The SmartyGrants Grants in Australia 2017 study found that 75% of grantseekers who had won six or more grants in a year were much more likely to form relationships with funders than those who had won no grants. As the study noted, “ It may be that those who pursue relationships with their funders are more likely to become successful grantseekers, or, it may be that successful grantseekers seek out relationships as part of their strategy.”
In this article, Catherine Brooks of Wendy Brooks & Partners says that strong relationships require careful research, great communication, thoughtful strategy, and a collaborative approach. This help sheet offers guidance on performance monitoring, so you can report back to the funder and maintain a mutually beneficial relationship.
Don’t ask, don’t get (so: apply for more grants)
We know not-for-profits are time poor and resource constrained. That’s why we’ve produced help sheets and templates to help your organisation apply for and win grants. As the adage goes, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
This leads us to our next point:
Submit your grant applications on time (be prepared)
Let’s talk about efficiency, which means using your time well – including finishing what you start, one of the hallmarks of successful grantseekers. Grants in Australia 2018 looked at the characteristics of grantseekers who won six or more grants in a year, and found that 90% of these applicants submitted more than 75% of all the grant applications they commenced. Stick at it!
To increase your likelihood of winning grants funding, our advice is to be prepared, use the grants database and dashboard to reduce time spent grantseeking, and use our resources to help you prepare your applications.
These resources can help you to make the most of your time and apply for more grants more efficiently:
Moneywise, there’s a sweet spot
When asking for money, don’t ask for less than you need and overstretch your organisation’s capacity, but don’t be greedy either. The most important thing is to ask for what you need.
There is a sweet spot, though, when it comes to grants awarded. Grants in Australia 2018 built a profile of a "typical" grantseeker (as distinct from a "winner", a "struggler", or one of several other archetypes), and found that the amount most likely to be won by this grantseeker is around $10,000, with a median success rate of 50%.
Use our grant application budget template to ensure you’re asking for what you need.
Use evidence and letters of support
Prove your organisation’s capacity to handle funds responsibly by showing evidence of past performance and behaviour. References from funders or other partners you’ve worked with, letters of support, testimonials, anything that shines a positive light on your organisation will help the funder feel confident their money is in the right hands.
This help sheet outlines the different types of evidence your organisation can use and why it’s important.
Use the Funding Centre grants database and dashboard
The Funding Centre’s grants researchers update and add grants to the database daily, so that you can spend less time searching for grants, and more time applying and winning.
Your personalised Funding Centre dashboard tool helps you find grants, track your applications, set tasks and due dates, and visualise key information in the grants calendar. Save yourself time and use the dashboard tool to help find, manage, and win more grants in 2023.
Use our benchmarking tool (locked to Funding Centre subscribers only) to compare your organisation to the wider grantseeking community.
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