Why Don’t I Ever Seem to Win Grants? What am I Doing Wrong?

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As a grant writer you may feel you are pumping out grant writing application after grant writing application, and having no success.  It sure can be disheartening and being given the task of grant writer for an organisation comes with expectations that are often hard to fulfil.  With competition for grants at an all-time high, it’s important that your grant writing hits the mark every time. In fact, you should assume that every time you write a grant, you are competing with hundreds of other organisations and/or individuals for the same money.  Is it any wonder that many grant proposals get shelved without a second look?  To ensure that your grant applications don’t land in the reject bin every time, here are some of the most common grant writing mistakes that you must avoid:

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Grant Writing – Finding grant opportunities 

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There is an enormous pool of funding opportunities available for Not-for-profit and Community Organisations in Australia.  Knowing where to find them is the key.  Red Tape Busters has an experienced, and a very successful team of Grant Writers with the knowledge to seek out and find those grant writing opportunities for you and take away the stress of not knowing where to begin. 

Grant Writing – Finding grant opportunities

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Grant writing – the vast differences across different funding opportunities

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As grant writing specialists we come across clients at polar ends of the grant writing experience spectrum. Some of our clients are reasonably experienced as grant writers and have achieved some decent successes while other clients have no idea and have never won a dollar. I must say though in general that mots organisations had little to no real understanding of how significantly different the grant writing task was for the myriad of different funding programs out there. Many many organisations think you can have a template grant application that you can develop and re-use from grant application to grant application making applying so much easier. Or they think if you write one grant you can just rehash the same information for the next grant.

Grant writing – the vast differences across different funding opportunities Continue reading

Grant writing – the importance of being organised

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Time and time again our grant writers are reminded of the need for our clients to be organised in order to provide us with the best possible assistance during the grant writing process. We are highly successful grant writers as can be identified by both our successes and the client testimonials on our website and we have processes in place which ensure we prepare high quality documents but the number of clients who are simply unprepared to either write a grant submission if they were doing it themselves or in our case assist our Consultants during the grant writing process is amazing.

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Grant Writing – Is the selection process generally above board?

This might be a strange topic to write about in the grant writing world – are grant submissions all considered fairly and equally and if not – why not? Experienced grant writers I think would generally all agree that the selection and evaluation process at times is not what it seems – especially in the Government and Council sectors. When discussing with our grant writing clients I am always upfront in that I cannot promise any outcome except that our grant writers will produce great documents that will wow our clients and if anyone independent was to assess our submission – they would think it was outstanding. That in essence is as much as we can do because from there it is in the lap of the gods. Continue reading

Grant Writing – Should I apply for the maximum amount available?

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Grant funding program guidelines generally have a maximum funding limit available and many grant writers seem to believe that if there is a maximum sealing on what you can apply for that you should apply for that maximum amount. In this article I would like to discuss this view and for grant writers to really assess this as an integral part of the grant writing process. Grant writing as I have said many times before really is a very strategic process – well it is strategic for skilled grant writers – not so much for inexperienced grant writers! And as such the amount of funding you are applying for needs to be factored into the grant writing process and considered in the risk assessment process in putting your absolute best case forward for consideration.

Maximum and minimum funding limits are set by the program managers in order to constrain the scope of projects and generally the maximum limits are factored in as part of the overall total amount of funding being made available. Therefore they are put in place as part of the funding guidelines for very specific reasons. Most grant writers seem to be attracted to the maximum limits like a moth to a light or like the allure of poker machines where players always think they just might win the big payout.

Our Consultants at Red Tape Busters are very very careful about applying for maximum amounts in the grant writing process. We have very real reasons and strategies behind this but the main consideration relates to the fact that the more organisations that apply for and are successful with winning the maximum funding amount – the less number of organisations in total will then be awarded funding. Funding programs and program managers generally like to spread the available funds around to as many organisations as possible. Therefore I believe that if you are applying for the maximum amount – the less likely you are to be successful. As professional grant writers we need to maximise our client’s chances of success and if we believe that a funding program/fund manager with a $1000000 funding pool available and a maximum funding limit of $200000 will want to allocate more than 5 successful grants of $200000 each which in general they surely will – then there really is little rationale for applying for the maximum amount. I always have a favourite saying – the closer you are to applying for the maximum funding amount – the less chance you have of success. The further you get away from the maximum funding limit – the better chance of success.

There are circumstances where applying for the maximum amount might be warranted but they are few and far between but yes there are circumstances where we will apply for the maximum amount. These instances generally are constrained to really really really good projects where the project is outstanding and fits the program guidelines perfectly, where the project cannot be completed with anything less than the full amount and where partially funding the project is untenable or where you are applying for a project or an item or piece of equipment which can’t be split up into “sub projects” and where the cost is equal to or close to the maximum amount. In those rare instances you might have to apply for the maximum funding amount. Also program managers generally and I say generally have an affinity with supporting rural based organisations or organisations suffering disadvantage over urban based organisations or organisations who are more “affluent”. In those situations severely disadvantaged organisations or those suffering from drought, socio economic issues etc might well get a project funded to the maximum funding limit. Again though be careful – the closer you get to apply for the maximum – the less chance of success. It really is that simple.

The skilled grant writer will give their client or project the very best chance of success in the grant writing process and our view is to apply for little and often instead of applying for maximum money. You will be far more successful with our strategy that is for sure.

Contact us at Red Tape Busters – http://www.redtapebusters.com/ should you require more information about this article or if you require specialist grant or tender writing experience to help your organisation or business win grant funding or achieve successes with tenders.

We are specialists in providing the following services:-

  • Lobbying;
  • Tender Writing;
  • Grant Writing;
  • Resumes/Job Applications;
  • Organisational/Business Development.

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Grant Writing – Issues that will count against you in the assessment process?

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Many grant writers think that the grant writing process is pretty easy and you just fill out an application form and tell a sad tale of how badly your organisation needs the money and low and behold – funding is provided. Grant writing as I have said many many times before really needs a strategic approach in order to maximise the chances of success. In progressing your submission you really need to be aware of issues that will count against you when the assessment panel sit down to wade through the zillion applications because virtually with every grant program – you will have significant competition to win that funding. These following pointers will certainly discount your application from further consideration: Continue reading

Tender Writing – Councils especially at times can award tenders irrespective of the merits of the tender response

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In this day of the 24/7 news cycle, with the focus on transparency, value for money and budget deficits most Government or Council entities are very very careful when it comes to assessing tenders and in awarding tenders to the business with the best tender response when considering all of the tender requirements. Skilled tender writers will prepare responses which are high quality and address all requirements and where in the tender writing process that they give due consideration to their pricing regime. I have also stated many many times that price is a very very important consideration for Council/Government entities and in the main is probably the most important criteria in the majority of tenders. Continue reading

Grant Writing – What are the determining factors in applying for a grant?

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There are many factors which determine if you should be applying for a grant and if your grant writer should spend time on crafting a great submission. Grant writing is far more than filling out an application and explaining why you need that funding. The outstanding grant writer will adopt a very strategic and thorough approach and will not just apply for everything on a whim. Following is a list of issues to consider when applying for grants.

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  • Organisational Eligibility

All grants have eligibility criteria relating to the type of organisation Grants might be restricted to a business, an incorporated non profit, an organisation with DGR/PBI status for example. So before applying the grant writer will ensure that the organisation as an entity is eligible to apply for this grant.

  • Location Restrictions

Grants at times can be only available to organisations within a set geographic location or a project being delivered within a specific geographic location. Again the grant writer needs to make sure that the organisation and project is eligible.

  • Closing Date

The closing date for applications might be a consideration in applying because if you don’t have the time to craft a quality response then it is a waste of time applying.

  • Project Completion Date

The required completion date of your project also might impact on whether the grant writer should write an application or not. If your project wont be completed within the required completion date then again obviously you would not apply.

  • Included/Excluded Expenditure

The grant writer must also consider what the grant will fund – what will it not fund – this is generally identified as excluded or included expenditure. For instance a grant program might exclude salary or wages or normal operational expenditure from inclusion in the grant request. This is actually the normality rather than the exception. Normally funding is available for equipment, facility upgrades, funding for program development/delivery but not for “people”.

  • Project Management Experience

Generally for projects that involve construction or infrastructure redevelopment work the funding body will want to be certain that the organisation has the project management experience to effectively manage this project and deliver the project on time and within budget. If the organisation does not have this experience within the organisation or externally say with the building contractor then the organisation should seriously consider not applying.

  • Reporting Requirements

Sometimes the reporting and acquittal requirements are so extensive that an organisation may decide not to apply due to this fact alone.

  • Grant Amount

This is a critical consideration – if the funding program will only fund up to a certain amount let’s say $20k and your organisation needs to purchase a ride–on lawnmower worth $50k and you have no capacity to access the other $30k from another funding program, from donations/sponsorships or your own operational account – again it is a waste of time applying. You might however have another project that is more suitable and as such you should consider applying for funding for that project.

Overall there are many many considerations organisations need to assess before madly rushing out and having their grant writer madly complete a grant submission. Again as we have stated many times, grant writing is far more than writing the grant – there are specific strategies and techniques involved and that is the reason we are highly successful in this field.

Grant Writing – Case Study 7

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This is Case Study 7 in our tranche of articles which give tips into the grant writing world and the skills and techniques used by our grant writers. In this article we will discuss the Bowen Golf Club and their need to irrigate some of their fairways.

The club had installed a dam to capture and treat their sewerage effluent water and had installed an irrigation system to irrigate some of the course. The irrigation of some of the course had resulted in greener fairways where the irrigation system had been installed and this had resulted in far better playing conditions and more members joining and more competitions being played. A number of fairways however were not irrigated and with the Qld heat and the drought these fairways were in less than ideal condition. Continue reading