Grant writing tips

Guest author: Lori Kravos, CBF volunteer and former Philanthropy & Partnerships Manager

In the past year, we’ve had some success in helping stations secure grant funding to install solar (sorry, this campaign is now closed). To assist your efforts in applying for grants we’ve compiled a list of handy tips to improve your grant writing success.

1. Apply a different lens

View your application through the lens of the donor/organisation that you are applying to. Review their website to learn what their vision and mission is. Based on this, consider how the vision, mission and strategic plan for your station align with theirs.

Donors ideologically fund the change they want to see in the world.

2. Reflect on the donor organisation

How does your need meet the organisation’s objectives? For example, a Trust or Foundation may wish to build social connection, increase employment opportunities and support resilience within regional communities. By supporting your station to install solar (or another project) expand on how your station currently meets each of their objectives and how funding your project at your station will allow for you to serve your community even more effectively in these areas.

From a donor’s perspective, organisations don’t have needs, people do. While we may view our organisation and projects as needing funds to keep providing services, donors perceive an organisation as needing funds so that we can help more people or help them more effectively.” Bill Moritz, New Horizons Foundation

3. Build a profile

Start by researching your community. There are many free online resources you can use to build a picture of your community including the Australian Bureau of Statistics Seifa Index.  Gather information on all areas that detail why your community may need support. Some categories to consider are; what is the population of your city/town and the greater area that you service, does your region have high levels of unemployment, youth disengagement, high proportion of seniors, low median income, high proportions of culturally/linguistically diverse people?

4. How does your station make a difference?

Considering your research and the challenges your community is facing, in specific detail, include in the application how your station is addressing each of these challenges, filling an important social need in the region with an emphasis on those that are aligned to the donor organisation’s needs.

5. Make your application emotive and personal

Explain the value of the station at an individual level. Include testimonials, quotes and personal letters of support from your listeners, volunteers and members. For example, a simple, one-page profile of a volunteer including what motivated them to get involved and how the station has made a difference in their life. Paint a picture of why your station is important to people in your local community.

6. Summarise the overall benefits of community broadcasting

Focus especially on those elements that align with a donor organisation’s vision, mission and objectives. Some examples are:

  • Community radio supports an open society, strong democracy and vibrant cultures both locally and across Australia.
  • Broadcasters are passionate volunteers who provide a diverse representation of voices from our community, creating connection, a sense of belonging and social cohesion.
  • Investing in community media supports diversity, access, multiculturalism, inclusion and social justice.
  • Community radio offers opportunities where everyone can participate and build a better life, from being a listener, volunteer at the station or to those who get more involved in the activities of their community due to raised awareness of events and other community organisations that they can join. The effect overall is of increasing community participation.
  • Opportunities to learn new skills and gain confidence by participating in training.
  • With the reach of a station going far beyond its own town, extending to the wider area of broadcasting range, stations can positively benefit a large number of people from a diverse range of social groups including those from under-represented and marginalised groups.
7. Review your website and social media

Review your website and social media presence through the eyes of a donor organisation. Donors are interested. They will request a station’s details in the application process, and they will visit and consider your site and pages in making a funding decision. Questions to ask yourself are:

  • Are your website and social media platforms easy to navigate and search?
  • Are you showcasing the great work your station does to support your community? E.g. Local news, emergency reporting (bushfire/floods) events listings, supporting local artists, musicians, charities, business, community and volunteer organisations, working with schools, seniors and on outdoor broadcasts are all elements to include online.
8. Why is your project needed?

Articulate why your project is important and needed. In the instance of solar:

  • To keep broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week, costs can be significant, and one of the biggest budget pressures is the soaring price of electricity. The majority of community radio stations, are run on little more than a ‘shoe string’ budget , relying heavily on a team of passionate volunteers.
  • The up-front costs for solar power installation would be impossible to afford without the support of external funding.
  • The installation of a solar system has the potential to save up to $XXX per year in electricity costs (which we can then put towards our efforts to connect our community) and reduce our power consumption by up to XX% (an excellent environmental example).
9. Articulate the positive outcomes

Clearly explain how your project (e.g. savings from electricity bills with solar installation) would benefit your station and your community. For example if your project was shifting to solar energy:

  • Improve the long-term financial viability of a community organisation that provides immediate and far-reaching benefits to the immediate community and also to the wider broadcast area.
  • To achieve immediate savings so more of our annual operating budget can be directed to connecting our community, tackling isolation, offering volunteer and training opportunities and overall building of social capital.
  • To be environmentally sustainable. As community radio stations, we are in a unique position to promote the environmental benefits of the installation and influence behavioural change, leading to wider adoption of environmentally friendly actions through-out our community.
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