Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

MoragAuthor: Morag White

Would you go into business with someone you knew very little about, and perhaps hadn't even spoken to?

Of course not. Yet many grant-seekers fail to read and fully understand a funder's criteria and the majority don't call to discuss their project.

By not undertaking fundamental research into a potential funder and failing to establish contact, grant-seekers are not only submitting applications that don't match the funder's objectives but they are missing a great opportunity to build what could be a long-term committed relationship.

Funders are people too

Relationships are central to successful grant-seeking. By keeping track of your funder interactions and building up your knowledge of the funder - what projects they have previously supported, who is on their board, how the corporate organisation is tracking - you gain more understanding and insight as you develop the relationship.

If you expect a funder to support you, the very least you can do is demonstrate that you understand the organisation, their funding objectives and their activities.

When you do make that call to the funder, don't do it the week before the application is due. Plan ahead and make your calls before the funder is inundated.

This is your opportunity to create a positive impression of your nonprofit, and to start building your relationship and a platform for you to pitch your project.

If you take the time upfront to undertake thorough research, establish that your project is a match, and take a long-term view to relationship building, you have the potential to find a funder that will show commitment well beyond just one round of funding.

JaneAuthor: Jane Symonds

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has presented the Federal Government’s 2014-15 Budget in Canberra, which promises to have far-reaching implications for nonprofits across the country.

We’ve pulled together some key items affecting different nonprofit sectors, as well as some sources of further reading and information.


In brief

As expected, this is not a friendly Budget for the nonprofit sector, or for the many Australians who depend on its services and support.

There have been widespread cuts to health, education and social services, and many people are voicing concern that the burden of these will fall inequitably to those least able to bear it.

For grant-seekers, this Budget means an even more restricted and competitive government funding environment.

Collaboration will be absolutely paramount, with funding going to partnerships and consortia under larger, longer-term funding agreements. We have already seen collaboration and partnerships emphasised in government tender papers released at all levels over the past 12 months.

In reality, this Budget cements what we have known for some time: that nonprofits will need to demonstrate sustainability through diversified fundraising strategies and strong, efficient business-management practices to be in the running to receive government funding.


Cuts, costs and changes


  • The Australian National Preventive Health Agency is to be abolished from this year, with ongoing functions (including provision of grants for preventive health activities) integrated into the Department of Health.

  • Establishment of the remaining 13 Partners in Recovery organisations will be deferred until 2016-17.

  • Health funding for Indigenous programmes, grants and activities within the Health portfolio will be collected under the Indigenous Australians Health Programme.

  • Indexation of Flexible Health Funds will be paused for three years from 2015-16, and uncommitted funds will be reduced.

  • Medicare Locals will be replaced in 2015 with Primary Health Networks, which will establish Clinical Councils and local Consumer Advisory Committees aligned to Local Hospital Networks.

Social Services

  • Discretionary grant programmes under the Department of Social Services will be consolidated into just seven (from 18).

    The Department will move to longer-term grant agreements generally, and specifically to five-year grant agreements for Family and Relationship Services, Communities for Children Facilitating Partners, and Family Law Services.

    Six-month extensions will be provided for the majority of existing grants, with 12-month extensions for grants transitioning into longer-term initiatives like the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Aged Care Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Foreign Aid

  • There will be a $7.6 billion reduction in foreign aid spending over five years (the single largest cost saving in the Budget).


  • A partial tender will be conducted for the Disability Management Services component of Disability Employment Services.


  • More than 150 Indigenous programmes and activities will be consolidated into a five-programme Indigenous Advancement Strategy within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The Strategy will cover: Jobs, Land and the Economy; Children and Schooling; Safety and Wellbeing; Culture and Capability; and Remote Australia Strategies.


  • The Grants to Voluntary Environment, Sustainability and Heritage Organisations programme will cease at 30 June this year.

  • The Caring for our Country and Landcare programmes will be merged into a National Landcare Programme, comprising a regional and a national component. Uncommitted funding for future grant rounds will be reduced.


  • Uncommitted funding for arts programmes administered by the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australia Council, and Screen Australia will be reduced.

Education and Research

  • Uncommitted funding for programmes in the Education portfolio will be reduced.

  • Funding administered by the Australian Research Council will be subject to a one-off 3.25% efficiency dividend from 2015-16.


Investments and increases

Health and Medical Research

  • Establishment of a Medical Research Future Fund in 2015 to provide additional funding for medical research, including through payments to the National Health and Medical Research Council.

    The Fund will receive an initial $1 billion from uncommitted funds in the Health and Hospitals Fund, which will be ceased at the end of 2014.

  • An additional $14.9 million over four years for 10 new headspace youth mental health sites, as well as programme evaluation.

  • $200 million over five years for research to improve dementia research.

  • A Young Carer Bursary Programme will provide around 150 bursaries each year of up to $10,000 to help young carers continue their studies.

Aged Care

  • There will be a 2.4% increase in funding for grant programmes like the Commonwealth Home and Community Care Programme.

Community Safety

  • $50 million over four years for local communities to fund crime prevention programmes.


  • $1 billion over five years from 2015-16 for regional infrastructure grants to partially fund projects delivered in partnership with government, private sector and community groups. Up to 50% of individual project costs only will be funded.

Social Services

  • The Department of Social Services will spend a further $2.1 million on scoping options to improve its grants management platform.


  • Creative Partnerships Australia funding will continue.

The Nonprofit Sector

  • The Community Business Partnership will be re-established to provide leadership and advice on encouraging growth in volunteering and philanthropy, and to promote business-community partnerships. (It is as yet unclear whether there will be financial distributions.)


More information

  • Although not for the faint of heart, the Budget Papers (particularly the Expense Measures section) provide details of changes.

  • Pro Bono Australia has extensive Budget coverage and has published a number of articles on the implications for different industry sectors.

  • The Australian Council of Social Service has released a statement detailing its Budget response.

  • The Department of Social Services will hold information sessions in capital cities regarding its new grants programme; we highly recommend registering to attend here.

  • The Department has also published a series of fact sheets and media releases on relevant Budget areas, which are available here.

  • While GrantReady’s focus is more on the implications for business, their summary documents are worth a read