Successful grants start with 5 key questions

October 31, 2019

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At the recent CBAA annual conference in Melbourne, Grants support team member, Ally Newton shared her five tips for creating a winning grant application.

Five questions to ask yourself

Preparing a grant application can be very similar to formulating a well-structured story. You need to start by answering a few critical questions before you even start writing.

1. What is it that do you want to do?

Every grant application starts with an idea. So think about your idea and what is it designed to do.

For a Development and Operations grant application, ask yourself if it’s about strengthening your governance, your operations, your technical set up  or your engagement with your community. If your application is for a Content grant, is it a program that engages diverse groups in your station?

You need to think about what the project will produce and what it will contribute to your station or your community.

2. Why do you want to undertake this project?

This is an important question to answer. Why does this work need to happen now and not, for example, in 12 month’s time? Is there an opportunity you want to capitalise on? You also need to explain why it’s important to your station or your community and how your station or community benefit from the project.

For content grants, can you show evidence of community support? For example, a consultation process through community meetings or a survey that identifies your project as filling a need or providing value.

3. Who will be involved in the project?

This is crucial in demonstrating that you have assembled an experienced team to deliver your project. Who will be the key people driving and delivering the project, and what skills and experience do they bring? Will there be volunteers involved? If so, how many and what experience do they bring? Do you have any additional partners or supporters?

It’s also important to think about who the beneficiaries of your project are – who is your project targeting? It’s important to be specific here, as ‘universal’ or ‘the whole community will benefit’ is not specific enough.

4. How will the project be delivered? What are the key project stages?

Think about what tasks need to be completed, what resources will be needed to complete these and who is responsible for delivering the project. You should also include the key dates and projects stages that outline when specific activities will be completed.

 5. How much will it cost?

Budgets can be tricky, but it is worth investing the time to develop a realistic and clear budget. Grant assessors will feel more comfortable in supporting a project if they can see you have thought about the costs.

The budget relates to the total cost of your project, and needs to show both the proposed income and expenditure:

  • Income – you need to include the amount that you are requesting from the CBF, and any other additional co-contributions from your own organisation or other funders. You should also include any in-kind contributions, but be careful not to overestimate the monetary value of this.
  • Expenditure – consider all costs, including the less obvious ones. Make sure you have quotes for larger items or can show how you have calculated or estimated these costs.

And remember, it’s important that your budget should reconcile. This means that your total income should match your total expenditure.

Other tips and tricks

There are a few other tips to keep in mind as you begin to write you application:

  • Write in clear, simple language – applicants often use complicated language to make the project sound more important, but the best thing you can do when writing a grant application is to use straightforward, plain English. Avoid jargon or technical language. If you do have to use this type of language, define the terms.
  • Assume the reader knows nothing about your organisation, project or community.
  • Support any claims you make with evidence, and use facts, not opinions.
  • Provide specific information when answering questions.

Last year the CBF distributed more than $18 million in grants to 220 community media organisations. Our grants are allocated twice a year, with the majority of funding allocated early in the year as part of the first round.

Find out more about our grants, key dates and recent successful grantees.

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