I love flying – particularly when I score a seat up the pointy end of the plane. The first-class/business-class experience is perhaps the only time someone ever waits on me and fulfills my (almost) every whim – apart from the marriage-saving cup of coffee left on the bedside table by my husband every morning.
At one of our recent Grant-Seeker Workshops, we asked funders along to hear their perspectives, and we got the message loud and clear that they enjoy being made to feel special too.
On that note, let’s stow our tray tables upright and examine how to give funders the first-class treatment during grants take-off, and hopefully landing!
Top ten tips for grants take-off and landing
By following these ten simple rules, your funding flight will be free of turbulence and you’ll maximise your chances of repeated grant success in future.
- Read the guidelines and don’t ask funders questions that could have been resolved by information already provided. Carefully check eligibility criteria – if you project is ineligible it won’t be funded.
- Before you contact a funder, make an honest assessment as to whether your project meets the overall goals of the funding program.
- Call funders before you submit a grant. Most funders are amenable to talking to you about your project and will give you an honest indication of whether it is something they are likely to fund or otherwise. Listen to their advice. Don’t ask for $1 million dollars if they indicate they can only distribute a small amount.
- Make sure your application is to the point. Answer each criterion directly and don’t add information that isn’t relevant. Don’t assume knowledge. Quantify and qualify your statements where possible. Budgets need to be realistic, include all project costs, and ensure income matches expenditure.
- Submit the application ahead of the deadline whenever possible. One funder even told us they may call you if they like the project but feel your application could be strengthened with more information. They can’t do this if they receive it right on deadline.
- Understand that your application may not be successful. Competition is fierce and grant rounds are over-subscribed. Don’t ever ring to express displeasure if you’re not successful. Our funders told us that they often receive applications that are well-written and fundable, but the pot of money just wasn’t big enough to fund them all.
- If your grant is successful – thank the funder! The value of a personalised, heartfelt letter or phone-call can’t be underestimated.
- Obey the terms of the funding agreement if one exists and ensure progress reports are completed on time. If a funding agreement is not provided, it’s a good idea to contact the funder and ask about the kind of information they’d like to receive during the life of the project.
- If things don’t go to plan with a project, make sure you keep funders in the loop. Notify them as soon as possible and explain the circumstances. Have an alternative plan to present if possible or advise clearly how the changes may impact on project deadlines or outputs.
- Provide a detailed and comprehensive acquittal. A trustee of a particular charitable fund indicated that the acquittal is the most important document a grant recipient can provide.
The take home message is, as grant seekers and recipients, you need to empathise with those organisations who grant you money to fulfill your mission. So wherever possible, give them five-star treatment and make sure their journey is a comfortable one. Remember – the sky’s the limit!
Our grants safety message is now over, so good luck, recline your seat, and safe travels.