Other feedback and questions raised in the surveys

Clarifying changes from the new funding model
Grant guidelines
Application forms
Other feedback

Clarifying changes from the new funding model


I was confused between which application form to apply for different items.

We strongly encourage you to speak with the Grants Support Team prior to starting your application, to ensure you are requesting funding under the right application(s).

Improvement: We will more clearly communicate which grant application should be used for different funding requests.

The CBF should be an independent dispenser of funding and not set community broadcasting funding policy. Why is funding for specialist radio programming and transmission costs competitive?

The CBF is an independent charity organisation. We establish our own funding policies in consultation with the Australian Government, the community broadcasting sector and other relevant stakeholders. We recognise that we have limited funding and must make best use of the funds to best meet our funding objectives.

As identified in Embracing change, based on sector feedback we agreed to move away from non-competitive, mathematical formula allocations such as the old Ethnic and Transmission Operational Subsidy grants for the following reasons:

  • A non-competitive, mathematical formula grant processes generate little information that supports sector arguments to maintain and increase in funding to address unmet needs.
  • Better practice grant processes are designed to improve transparency and accountability and are more attractive to Government and future funders.
  • A non-competitive, mathematical formula would enable stations to seek support for costs through two different categories creating the potential for ‘double-dipping’.

Why can’t the CBF allocate more funding for general purposes instead of specialist areas like Indigenous, ethnic and RPH?

The CBF has funding available to support Indigenous, ethnic and RPH broadcasting and it can only be used to support stations broadcasting Indigenous, ethnic and RPH content. If your station would like to access Indigenous, ethnic and RPH funding it should begin engaging your local Indigenous and ethnic communities to establish appropriate programs or develop programming that meets the RPH protocols for radio reading programs that provide access to information for people in your community with a print disability.

Why aren’t all Indigenous programs eligible for Specialist Radio Programming funding?

The majority of Government funding for Indigenous community broadcasters is allocated direct to stations through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS). The CBF also receives some Government funding with a primary purpose to support Indigenous broadcasting on stations who are not eligible for IAS funding. The CBF has established guidelines to support those ongoing radio programs, but our funding is limited.

Other programs and content projects can apply for support through our Content grants.

If you’re interested in multi-year funding, we encourage you to speak with the Grants Support Team about how to best frame that in your grant application.

Why can’t you create new application forms for specific areas like transmission costs, salaries and training?

The Content and Development & Operations grant application forms are designed to streamline the application process as much as possible, while providing enough information for our Assessors and Committees to make recommendations why one proposal should be funded over others.

For example, the Development & Operations grant application form includes conditional logic, which hides or shows different questions depending on how you answer earlier questions in the form. For example, you are only asked about your transmission set up if you tick the Transmission equipment option under the question What are you requesting funding for? There are similar conditional logic questions for salaries, training and sector organisations.

Creating new application forms for specific area would not reduce the amount of information requested. You would still be required to address the assessment criteria; Capacity Building, Ideas, Impacts and Implementation. But in one application where you can apply for multiple activities it means you don’t have to respond to these criteria multiple times.

But it sounds like some applicants may not understand why the CBF have chosen to score and compare applications based on the assessment criteria; Capacity Building, Ideas, Impacts and Implementation, which are explained at Why have the CBF chosen the current assessment criteria?

What’s happening with multi-year funding?

In Round 1 2018/19 we allocated our first four multi-year funding allocations. These are test cases where applications scored well, and it was felt the applicants would benefit from reduced application and reporting requirements and longer-term financial security. We will continue to monitor the success of these grants as our first test cases.

We would also like to test different scenarios such as seed funding which is scaled up/down over a number of years as an organisation or project establishes itself or builds financial independence.

Some characteristics that would build your case for multi-year funding include:

  • A grant application that scores well against the criteria
  • A history of consistent CBF funding support and reporting
  • A strong strategic plan aligning with CBF funding objectives and covering the term of the multi-year plan
  • A multi-year plan and budget proposal


Grant guidelines

Why has the CBF chosen the current assessment criteria? Why capacity building, ideas, impacts and implementation?

The CBF develops the grant guidelines and assessment criteria to reflect our strategic plan which aims to strengthen community media to be resilient, sustainable and integrated into the fabric of Australian communities.

We don’t have enough funding to support everyone to the level they would like. In choosing who and what to support we have chosen applications demonstrating strong organisational governance, evidence of community needs, lasting outcomes and clear planning.

Applications are assessed on how your activities and ideas meet the grant guidelines, which in turn match our strategic plan.

The assessment criteria in our grant guidelines are based on the annually reviewed Terms of Reference for our Sector Investment Advisory Committee, Development & Operations Grants Advisory Committee and Content Grants Advisory Committee.

If there is any other information not asked for in the application that you would like assessors to consider, you can provide a hyperlink within the most appropriate text box or attach it as a supporting document.

Improvement: We will review its Committee Terms of Reference and assessment criteria in late 2018.

There are too many funding objectives. The application process would be clearer for applicants if the CBF could be clearer with its funding objectives.

The CBF have chosen the current funding objectives to reflect our strategic plan. Applications are assessed on how your activities and ideas meet the grant guidelines, which in turn match our strategic plan.

The funding objectives in grant guidelines are based on the annually reviewed Terms of Reference for our Sector Investment Advisory Committee, Development & Operations Grants Advisory Committee and Content Grants Advisory Committee.

The funding objectives are broad because the community broadcasting sector is diverse, with broadcasters at different stages of their career or organisational maturity.

Improvement: We will review our Committee Terms of Reference and funding objectives in late 2018.

Why don’t you ask how many listeners we have? Having more listeners should demonstrate we are more deserving of funding than organisations with less listeners.

Most stations cannot afford audience research. Stations with the biggest audiences are based in metropolitan areas with more widespread access to broadcast and online media. So preferencing support for stations with more listeners would unfairly preference wealthy, metropolitan stations.

To mitigate the potential disadvantage that low resource or regional stations may experience through our competitive grant application process, we apply priority loading to the assessment score for low resourced and regional stations as described in our Frequently Asked Questions.

But as described in our Strategic Plan, the CBF wants to advance community media by supporting station resilience and building audiences by funding compelling content.

If you have access to it, you should include your audience data in your application, compared with demographic data to identify sections of your community you are not adequately engaging. This may help you demonstrate why the production of content or the specific activities planned in your grant application will address current service gaps, which will help you build your audience and support station resilience.

Why aren’t membership fees eligible for CBF funding?

The CBF views membership as a decision to be made and paid for by the individual or organisation from their own funds if they believe membership will be beneficial to them. This includes membership to sector organisations such as the CBAA, NEMBC, Technorama and Funding Centre, and relevant industry unions.

In many membership organisations it is a violation of membership if membership fees are paid by a third party. It is known as ‘branch stacking’ in Australian politics, where a faction of membership recruits new members to have more votes for their proposals. The CBF does not support such activities.

What is the funding limit for each grant category?

There is no funding limit for each grant category, but the CBF has limited funding to give out as explained in the grant guidelines.

You should speak with the CBF Grants Support Team to discuss your ideas and priorities for each grant round.

Application forms

Why are the CBF application forms so complicated and full of jargon?

We try as best we can to make our grants process as clear and simple as possible, while ensuring we can differentiate applications competing for limited funding.

Due to the nature of grant-making and community media there will always be some level of jargon involved.

Improvement: We will review our application forms to make sure they are written in plain English and are as clear as possible.

Why can’t the CBF keep the same application forms every year?

The CBF is committed to continuous improvement. Every grant round we listen to your feedback and try to improve the process, like we have from these surveys.

Why do some questions seem repetitive? Why do several questions seem repetitive?

Our questions don’t repeat, your answers do. And sometimes that’s okay.

We ask many questions about your organisation, activities and projects. Sometimes the right answer to one question is the right (or part) answer to another question.

Where it seems appropriate to do so you can Copy/Paste your response from one question to another and tweak it to make sure you’re fully answering the question. This helps our assessors have the information they need in the question they need it, rather than having to refer to a previous question and could reflect positively for your assessment score.

Why do you ask the same questions in Content and Development & Operations application forms? Can’t you just take the responses/documents from one and attach it to the other?

We ask some of the same questions about applicant organisations in both our Content and Development & Operations grant applications because we collect this information to track progress about how our grants are having impact in the community, and not everyone applies for both grant opportunities.

We expect common information such as your latest strategic plan and annual report will be automatically available as part of your SmartyFile as described in Why can’t SmartyGrants recognise my login and autofill our contact and organisational details? This will reduce some of this duplication in future.

Why can’t SmartyGrants recognise my login and autofill our contact and organisational details?

In the most recent grant rounds the CBF made many organisational details optional, and applicants were only required to respond if they thought the details we have on record may need updating. However, we have required some fields such as ABN, Organisational Name and individual contact details so we know who the application has been submitted by and who we should contact if we have any questions.

SmartyGrants is working on a new project called SmartyFile which is expected to be rolled out in 2018 and is a central repository for all your organisational information. Information in your SmartyFile can be auto-populated into your CBF grant applications as well as your applications to other grant-makers that use SmartyGrants.

While you can turn on autofill functions in most web browsers, we do not encourage this where computers may be shared to avoid Homer using Bart’s details to login to accounts or complete online forms. Also, some websites can use hidden autofill questions to phish any saved credit card details and such.

We do encourage you to use a password manager tool to manage autofill more safely, such as Dashlane (which is used by the CBF Support Team), LastPass or RoboForm.

Why won’t SmartyGrants allow text formatting such as bold, italics, underlines, colours and bullet points?

Bold, italic, underline, colours and ● bullet points are all forms of HTML text formatting. Currently SmartyGrants cannot manage HTML text formatting because it is not compatible with the system’s reporting.

Instead use plain text highlighting such as:
– dashes

Can the CBF improve the text formatting in application forms so that important information and required fields are better highlighted?

It’s tough finding the right balance between providing too little or much information. If we provide too little applicants may miss a critical detail that we didn’t remind them about. If we provide too much information some applicants may be overwhelmed and not read these prompts correctly or at all.

The CBF is also developing a style guide to more consistently communicate with our stakeholders. This should improve the text on our website, application forms and resources.

Improvement: We will review information presented within the grant application form to make sure it is as clear as possible.

Can the CBF remove the instructions and guidelines from the PDF version of the application form? Can the CBF please provide a template grant application to work offline?

The benefit of working within SmartyGrants is that it is designed to guide you through the process including hints and tips that could not be replicated in a Word document. It also saves progress as you move between pages.

But we agree, it would be easy for the CBF to provide a Word version of the application form for applicants to work on offline where they prefer and remove guidelines and instructions as they please.

Improvement: We will provide a Word version of the application forms instead of PDF versions.

Why are your word limits so short/long?

Yes, some applicants think our word limits are too long and some think they are too short.

We only have one long form question with an actual word limit – the grant application Summary. This question has a word limit of 50 words and is used as a handy reference. Keep the summary short and simple and spend more time crafting your responses to the other questions.

All our other long form questions include suggested word limits, but applicants are free to ignore these as they wish. This is what we expect from a mid-sized application. If your application is simpler, then you may use fewer words. If your application is more complex, then you may need more words to explain what you’re hoping to do.

But remember that your application is competitively assessed against others. If you do not include information requested in the application form, assessors may give your application a lower score than other applications that did provide that information. If you waffle on too long, the key message you are trying to convey to assessors may not be clear and that may impact on how your application is scored.

Why is a strategic plan required in the grant application forms?

CBF grant applications require a strategic plan or similar to demonstrate that the applicant organisation has future plans that align with CBF funding objectives.

A strategic plan or similar is required by the ACMA when allocating community broadcasting licences, so we expect that all stations would review and maintain this document between licence renewals.

Why am I adding rows to tables and repeatable sections above the current row/section instead of below the last row/section?

Clicking the + button beside a row/section will add a line above the row/section.

Clicking the Add More button below the table or section will add a row below the last row/section.

The timelines table is difficult to use.

The project timeline table asks you to identify the when, what, how and who of your activities.

The Timelines table should not be text-heavy. As shown in the example responses at the bottom of the table, responses in the table should just be a few words to describe the actions to be taken.

If you are planning multiple, complicated activities this table may be too restrictive for you. Instead use a separate template that better suits your needs and attach it. You will still have to complete the first line of this table to refer to the attached document.

For applications seeking support for ongoing activities like transmission or operational costs, your timeline table should outline how and when you will deliver the Capacity Building, Ideas and Impacts described in your application, so include relevant timeframes for those activities such as:

  • Important outside broadcasts your organisation does every year
  • Reviewing and updating organisational policies and procedures
  • Fundraisers, radiothons, donation/subscription/membership drives
  • Recruiting and training new presenters
  • Meeting sponsorship targets
  • Developing partnerships with local schools
  • Annual and any general meetings
  • Community consultation

If your activities are of a weekly nature, like a regular radio program, show time frames for your weekly activities such as:

  • Research
  • Booking interviews
  • Preparing pre-recorded content
  • Promotions
  • Community engagement
  • Live to air
  • Podcasting

Improvement: We will provide examples and templates for the Timelines tables to demonstrate how to complete this section for different activities while keeping responses concise.

The budget table is difficult to use.

The budget table in our grant application forms has been designed for simple grant budgets.

If your grant budget is more complex we encourage you to attach your own budget instead. But make sure you include a summary of your attached budget in the budget table so that the Budget Totals add up, and that you provide all required information identified in the instructions above the budget table.

Improvement: We will consider options to improve the budget table.

Encouraging three quotes for budget items over $2,000 is a burden.

We want grantees to demonstrate good practices including researching options to best meet their needs.

Your application will most likely receive a lower score against the Implementation assessment criteria if you have few than three quotes for each equivalent piece of equipment you want to purchase, because it signals you have not demonstrated clear planning for the activity. You have an opportunity in the form to explain why you did not include three quotes.

Multiple quotes for the same make and model of equipment does not necessarily demonstrate good purchasing practice. We would prefer to see quotes and/or technical specifications for similar pieces of equipment (e.g. 10-channel studio mixers) and your explanation how one better meets your needs than the others.

We agree that the current policy encouraging three quotes for every item over $2,000 is burdensome and should be reviewed.

Improvement: We will review its policy for requiring evidence of research to determine purchasing options.

How does the CBF reconcile the budget with the list of station priority activities?

The Grants Support Team reviews your applications and notes to the Grants Assessors and Grants Advisory Committee where application budgets do not add up and what the differences are.

Grants Assessors are not filled with confidence where an applicants budget does not add up, so we encourage you to ask a friend to review your application and double check your figures prior to submission.


Can the CBF please provide more examples?


Improvement: We will provide more example responses to questions asked in grant applications.

Can the CBF please provide more short videos?


Improvement: We will provide more short videos demonstrating how to complete each section of the application forms.

Can the CBF provide help with uploading our content to a website to include in the application?

Improvement: We will provide resources to help applicants upload content to common audio and video sharing platforms to include hyperlinks to in CBF application forms.


Why are Content and Development & Operations grant rounds closing around the same time?

Round 1 grant rounds aim to support projects starting from 1 July to distribute funding to grantees as soon as it is available.

We aim to keep the process as straight-forward as possible.  For a number of applicants, it helps to develop their plans for the coming financial year and often the proposed activities are interrelated.

Because CBF grant round timeframes are consistent each year, we expect applicants to set aside sufficient time for each grant application they plan to submit.

Why are Content and Development & Operations grant decisions made so close to the end of the financial year?

Round 1 grant rounds are usually announced late May to provide one month’s notice prior to the start of the financial year. We understand organisations would like to provide contract staff further notice or contract start/end dates. However, to move the announcement dates earlier the CBF would have to compromise timeframes from the application or assessment process, which would negatively impact the quality of applications or decisions.

Can grant rounds close some time when there is not a public holiday in my state?

We plan our grant round closing dates around our Board and Committee meetings, school holidays and public holidays across all states and territories. For many volunteer stations a public holiday is an extra day they have to prepare their application. For others it may mean one less day.

We ensure that each grant round is open for at least 8 weeks, and we make the application forms reviewable prior to this where we can (3 weeks for Round 1 2018/19). We are also committed to maintaining consistent grant round timeframes each year:

  • Round 1 opening early January and closing in March
  • Round 2 opening early July and closing late August

We believe this provides sufficient time for applicants to complete their applications prior to the deadlines.

Why did SmartyGrants close for maintenance the night before the Development & Operations grant deadline?

SmartyGrants, the developers of our online grants management system, sent the CBF an email at 3:45pm the day before our Development & Operations grant round closing time notifying us of a system update at 9pm that night. Unfortunately, the Grants Support Team were busy responding to last minute applicant enquiries and didn’t see the notification until the following morning when investigating the outage.

The notification to the CBF noted that the system update would leave the system unavailable for less than 30 minutes. The public notification did not mention that the system would be available within 30 minutes.

We have requested that in future SmartyGrants provide at least one business days’ notice on system outages as per their own policy and include the expected downtime in public notifications.

We also encourage applicants to prepare their applications well in advance of the deadline. We do this because:

  1. Looking into the success rates of applications submitted before the 24 hours before the deadline and within the 24 hours before the deadline goes something like this: 90% success before 24 hours, 70% within 24 hours and 50% within 1 hour. Last minute applications appear rushed and often miss critical information.
  2. Murphy’s Law – anything that can go wrong will go wrong – such as a system update, an accident at home, computer/internet problems, etc. Leaving preparation for an application to the night before a deadline risks not meeting the deadline.


Other feedback

Do assessors listen/watch all pilots and demos before making recommendations?

Yes! Depending on the platform or format you provide the content.

An assessor is unlikely to consume the entire back catalogue of your long-running weekly program (unless it is of particular interest to them), but they’ll skim over the episode you linked directly to and possibly some of your other more recent episodes to get a feel for your content.

This is why it’s important to provide a hyperlink to where assessors can access your best work.

If editing your best episode to upload to the internet isn’t worth your time, then why would it be worth us funding?

It can be confusing when two people are working on the same application at the same time

Don’t do this!!! Two people should never be working on the same application at the same time. Every time one of you clicks to a different page it saves over the work of the other person. No wonder it was confusing.

Speaking to the Grants Support Team before we started our application was very helpful. Could the CBF make speaking with the Grants Support Team compulsory to applying?

We strongly encourage applicant to seek advice and support from our Grants Support Team early and regularly. Our job is to help applicants present the best possible case for funding support as they can.

But we will not make this compulsory. We want our application process to be as open as possible.

The CBF should employ technologists to audit stations to determine equipment needs

Technologists working (paid or voluntarily) with community broadcasting stations would often have a conflict of interest in providing advice to the CBF about their own station or other station equipment needs. We’d have to engage technologists to travel interstate to undertake audits, all of which reduces the funding pool available to stations.

If applicants require technical advice, groups like Technorama (see also the Technorama Facebook page are available to support community media organisations find local or remote technical support.

We started an application by accident. Why can’t we remove it?

If you started an application by accident, just ignore it and it fall slowly fall to the bottom of your My Submissions list. SmartyGrants have a development request to create an archive function so you can hide it from view, but still have access to it when needed.

If this is an important feature for you, email SmartyGrants and ask if they can archive your accidental, unsuccessful and completed grant records. The more requests they have for this feature, the quicker they’ll develop it.

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