Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Ruth Author: Ruth Button

Hi, I’m Ruth one of the Grants Strategists at Strategic Grants.

Some of you may be wondering “Ok, what does a Grants Strategist do?”

The short answer is we help non-profit organisations with all things grants-related. Everything from grant application writing, grant application critiquing, training, industry relevant blogs, grants strategy, program design, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting frameworks. We also help funders and councils with their grants’ strategies!

But that’s not all…

One part of my role, behind the scenes, which really appeals to the secret nerd in me - is helping the Strategic Grants Calendar Team build Customised Grants Calendars for our clients. 

Here at Strategic Grants we are fortunate to work with a diverse range of non-profit organisations across New Zealand and Australia, helping to build the capacity of these organisations through their grant programmes. Building Customised Grants Calendars is one of the ways we do this.Grants Calendar Blog Image

Our online grants database GEMS (Grants Expertise Management Systems) includes thousands of funding opportunities from philanthropic trusts and foundations; government grants; local councils; corporate foundations; and public and private funds. When a non-profit organisation signs up to GEM Portal we also build a Customised Grants Calendar unique to them, which includes just the funders whose interests match the activities, projects and services of their organisation.

Building the calendar
Extracting that level of customised information from a huge database of grants including everything across all areas of community need, is an in -depth process. Initially there is a lot of research and consultation involved to get an understanding of the organisation’s work, their purpose, projects, who they are helping and which geographic area they cover. 

We then match this information to the grant codes in GEMS, selecting just the grant categories, beneficiaries, geographic location, legal status, grant range and grant types that fit the organisation’s profile.

Then GEM Portal does its magic, automatically selecting all the grants that match that organisation’s profile to include in their grants calendar. The data then gets checked by the SG Calendar Team to make sure there are no grants that should not be there and that relevant ones are not excluded.

Grants History
It is so important for a grants strategy to be effective, to have a record of your organisation’s grants history. That’s why our clients provide a list of their history with funders, so we can include these notes and details in their Customised Grants Calendar to help with their future planning. And of course, for any funded projects, the funder report due dates can also be added to help manage those deadlines too.

Wishlist & Prospect matching
Another part of the grants calendar process is using the client’s wishlist to get them started with some suggestions of funders they can approach as a priority. Having a wishlist of projects, equipment, operational needs or capital items that need funded for the next 6-12 months is a must when planning your grants programme for the coming year.

Before we send out a grants calendar to a client, as with all our client work at Strategic Grants, the calendar and prospect list goes through our internal review process for a final check.

Then finally, the exciting part for me after all that hard work….

It’s time to deliver the calendar to the client, who is always very excited to see how many opportunities there are!  2020 GENERAL POSTS Strategic Grants 9

If you want to save hours of research time, allowing you more time to focus on developing relationships with funders, robust project plans and well written grant applications, get in touch to see how a Customised Grants Calendar and GEM Portal subscription can help your organisation. 

Be sure to check out the GEMP demo at

And if you are a smaller organisation with revenue under $1Million - check out


Jo BNE  Author: Jo Garner

Recently we have observed an increase in funders encouraging early grant applications, as they strive to assess applications as they are received, resulting in funding possibly being expended before the grant round has closed.

With guidelines like the Victorian Government’s Lets Stay Connected Fund, stating, “Note that early applications are encouraged and will be assessed as soon as possible, with funding allocated accordingly”, it is more important than ever to be well-prepared so that your organisation is in a position to submit as early as possible!

Funders are reporting higher than average grant applications and higher than usual ineligible applications! Remember to retain best-practice and only apply if you meet the guidelines. Now is not the time to be wasting organisational resources on ineligible or poorly planned funding submissions.

Long-time grant-maker, currently working with Equity Trustees, Lea-Anne Bradley, says, “Funders will be examining organisations’ capacity to deliver projects more closely than ever. They want to see that you have considered your business continuity plan and reviewed your strategic plan. If your funding needs have changed, you need to be clear about this and how you are managing your finances to ensure continuity.”

While peak body Philanthropy Australia has been working hard to encourage continuity of giving in a time when charities need it most, with community events fundraising diminished, there will be extra strain on grant funds.Jo C19Funder BlogImage

Our advice to current fund holders and applicants is:

  1. Speak to your current funding partners if you need to alter any of your funded projects.
  2. Try to speak to funders before applying, wherever possible and particularly when guidelines state that calls to discuss applications are encouraged.
  3. You must review your project pipeline NOW. Your list of funding needs is undoubtedly different now to what it was six months ago.
  4. Update your key messages. What is your plan to get through COVID-19? Be clear on changes to your short-term strategies.   

For further support and advice you can contact Strategic Grants on