Author: Kate Sunners


Ever wished you could get inside the head of a funder?

Sinclair Taylor, the CEO of Westpac Foundation presented at the FIA QLD breakfast this week, giving us insights into the corporate foundation grant-making process, social enterprise funding, and skilled volunteering.

Most of his grant-tips are applicable not only to corporate partnerships/foundations but also to all grant processes:

– Invest time in getting your elevator pitch right; so many seem a bit murky about the purpose of the organisation. Make it clear and compelling. (Personally, as a writer, I can’t get enough of reminders like these! My office sticky note reminder is now hanging out with my zen little postcard of a Margaret Olley painting).

clear– Don’t sugar coat your organisation’s financial situation in your grant application (many trustees of philanthropic bodies, and particularly in the case of the Westpac Foundation, are from financial/banking backgrounds. They’ll know a fishy rosy-coloured financial lens when they see one and if they think you’re deluded about your financials, they won’t want to invest).

– Amend that – don’t sugar coat anything. Sugar is out, people! Worst-case and what-ifs are preferred to best-case projections: realistic project planning and projections are in!

– Always maintain open, honest and transparent relationships with your funders.

– With corporate foundations, the funder must consider reputational risks to the company that come with any grant partnership (ie. The NFP grantee’s relationships with other businesses/companies like alcohol, tobacco and gambling).

– Don’t apply if you’re not eligible (Westpac Foundation funds only NFPs under $5m revenue. Despite this they received numerous applications from organisations with larger revenues).

– As we’ve heard before from numerous other funders, assessors look for a strong management team and Board with evidence of financial sustainability and risk management plans in place.

– Use plain English and avoid industry/sector specific jargon – you never know who will be assessing your application, so assuming no specific knowledge is best!

There we go, short and naturally sweetened without sugar! 


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