Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

A funder's perspective

JoAuthor: Jo Garner

12 months ago, I realised a personal goal of becoming a grant-maker, through my role as one of six founding members of Queensland's first Giving Circle, Women & Change.

In my role with Strategic Grants, we have consulted to various funders over the years, and have worked with many more in the delivery of our Grant-Seeker Workshops.

Through those relationships we have collated so much feedback on the challenges (and rewards) they face as grant-makers: from receiving phone calls from prospective applicants who have not yet read the guidelines, to the worst-case scenario – receiving applications that are ineligible.

Having just been through our first Women & Change grants assessment process, I have to say that (in addition to being terribly excited to award our inaugural grant of $52,000 on 5 November) there have been frustrations that I am now experiencing first-hand.

So, wearing my grant-maker hat, and to add to what we have learnt over the years in helping charities develop and sustain successful grant-seeking programs, here are the very basic but golden rules to follow when you are next applying for a grant:

  1. Read the guidelines.
  2. Don't ignore the guidelines. They are developed to ensure that the philanthropists' intent is met in grants that are awarded, so adhere to them. This includes:
    1. abiding by the word limits
    2. confirming your eligibility (for example, does your annual revenue need to be under a certain figure to be eligible to apply?)
    3. ensuring that all attachments are provided as requested
    4. providing answers to the questions asked
    5. checking spelling and grammar
  3. Don't forget: trusts, foundations, collective giving groups and other funders are established with the purpose of making grants. They want to give money to support worthy causes that align with their own missions. Encourage the growth of philanthropy by exciting philanthropists.

To learn more about best-practice grant-seeking, check out our Training page for our range of learning opportunities, including half-day workshops where you can learn all the essentials from one of our Grants Specialists and one of our funder friends.