Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Jo BNE Author: Jo Garner

There are a lot of things to think about and gather together so it’s vital that if you have not started already, you must prepare now for the 7 December 2018 deadline.

As the focus of Perpetual IMPACT applications is largely on organisational performance and capability, this application is a little different from some others that may have greater focus on the project.

We have gathered some of our top-level feedback and tips here to help ensure you are getting the best and most relevant information together for your application:

  1. Make sure you’re using the current application form! The questions do change, so it’s vital that you collate your responses according to the current form.
  2. Keep in mind that Perpetual invests in organisations who display strong leadership and business planning capacity. How can you demonstrate this?
  3. Check that your mission statement is worded consistently across your communications (website, social media, published documents etc) and your Perpetual application.
  4. KPIS – KPI questions are typically not well answered in Perpetual Applications - here’s a quick guide:

Key Performance indicators need to be specific. That means they should have numbers like % increases. If you’re struggling to formulate KPIs – think SMART:

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How well is your organisation tracking against its Mission? (Effectiveness).

This question relates to how well your organisation is achieving its mission.

This is more outcomes related, often captured by qualitative AND quantitative data. That is, how are you measuring the changes your organisation is affecting?

They may include things like:

  1. Increased participation, awareness etc.
  2. Changes in behavior, understanding, attitudes.
  3. Improvements in conditions
  4. Systemic changes

The question about Efficiency requires an answer about how well you are using your resources (whether that’s staff, finances etc). Efficiencies generally relate to the quantifiables that may include things like:

  1. Growth / reductions in income and expenses
  2. Diversification / growth of revenue streams
  3. Staff retention
  4. Number of occasions of service delivery to target group / cause
  5. Other operating efficiencies including clear policy and processes across all areas of the business etc.

How are you performing against your KPIs?

You are required to give EVIDENCE of how your organisation is performing against all the KPIs you provide. These responses must provide evidence via presentation of data and evaluation results. i.e. figures, percentage growth / decline, details of progress, any qualitative results / feedback etc.

You need information on your benchmarks to show how you’re tracking against previous years in terms of your KPIs– a $ increase from what? A % increase from what? In what space of time? If you have not performed well on your KPIs, give explanations why not. You’ll need both qualitative and quantitative data and evidence to demonstrate performance.            

  1. Make sure you’re providing the right level of information. High level information is great, as long as you have specifics. It’s not enough to say you have experienced an increase in income, but rather that your income has increased X% from $Y in 2015/2016 to $Z in 2016/2017.
  1. Your answer to ‘what actions needs to be undertaken for the activity?’ needs to show how you will spend the $$ and what will need to happen so your project can be completed, not what the project will do for beneficiaries.
  2. External challenges facing your organisation should not solely be “competition for funding”. Be specific about the issues specifically affecting your particular sector. For example, policy changes, sectoral impacts etc ie. the introduction of NDIS will present challenges for disability organisations.
  3. Risks - You’re going to need information on the risks affecting not just the project but your organisation as a whole. All organisations face risks. Perpetual wants to know that you have identified the real risks to your organisation’s operations and longevity and what plans you have in place to reduce the impact of these risks. You must highlight at least three risks and mitigation strategies in your answer.

Likewise, with the question asking for the project’s risks. All projects have risks. Perpetual wants to know that you understand what might go wrong and that you have contingency plans in place. 

  1. The project you are requesting funds for should align with the strategic objectives you’ve outlined for the next 12 months (earlier in the application).
  2. Ensure the response to the question relating to the need and rationale for the project gives concrete evidence that demonstrates exactly why this project is necessary. This might be statistics (reference your sources), ABS data, your own evaluation in the field etc.
  3. Reminder: Outcomes and outputs are often confused in grant applications, resulting in an application where output answers are provided where information on outcomes should be.

Outputs are the direct deliverables ie. activities run, instances of program delivery, purchases of equipment, capital works etc.

Outcomes are the changes or benefits that happen as a result of those outputs.

When the application asks you to outline project outcomes, these are the changes that will occur through delivery of the activities and project outputs.

This is a two-part question which also asks how you will measure these outcomes. Make sure you answer both parts!

  1. Make sure your project doesn’t start before the Perpetual grant distribution date (Friday, 28 June 2019).
  2. Budget - The amount being requested should be an accurate figure that correlates exactly with the figures within your budget that is provided later in the form. Ensure figures are based on real quotes and exact wage rates etc.

As with all grant budgets, income and expenditure columns must be equal.

You can preview the application form on the Perpetual website, where you will also find the Perpetual webinar recording of application tips.

If you need additional help whilst preparing and writing your application, check out our Advanced Webinar on Evaluation and Social Impact – it may just provide the knowledge and inspiration you need!






Author: Kate Sunners 


Being at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) is like being in a room filled with thousands of mosquitos. The buzz was audible from the first moment of the Opening Plenary, and I was bitten by lots of new ideas that have left me itching to research and try new approaches, tools and methods.  It was a week of having assumptions challenged, big questions asked and, collaboratively, coming up with answers (and yet more questions).

There were a number of streams covering every aspect and methodology of fundraising and beyond, but the path I chose through IFC took me on a learning journey that included a mix of skill building, including facilitating for collaboration and innovation, shifting power in organisations through co-design, and practical strategies and tools I can begin implementing immediately. 

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The global mix of IFC 2018 speakers included fundraising sector experts, but also leaders and changemakers from other sectors, ensuring new information and ideas permeated the four days of masterclasses, workshops, ‘Big Room’ and breakout discussions.

The sessions I attended were highly interactive, making us think on our feet, and apply what we were learning to our own organisations’ situations. Speakers were generous in sharing practical tools, as well as learnings from fundraising techniques and campaigns that didn’t work out as planned, as much as those that were successful. Themes ranging from collaboration, co-design, accountability to beneficiaries, testing, measuring and action learning were threaded through the conference, and were often applied in practice in the sessions, providing experiential learning experiences.

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The social and networking aspects of IFC – discussing sector and social issues and topics over a meal – are central to the interchange of ideas that brings IFC participants back time and time again (one participant I spoke to was in his 30th year of attendance!). The calibre and experience of the speakers and participants might have felt daunting if it weren’t for the very warm, collegiate atmosphere of IFC. I must have met and spoken to over a hundred strangers, all of whom made me feel absolutely at home.

The Final Plenary was the kind that stays with you a long time. Esther Dingemans, director of the Dr Denis Mukwege Foundation, which works to eradicate sexual violence around the world, introduced the difficult topic of sexual violence as a weapon of war sharing some of her experiences working with survivors of sexual violence. Woven throughout the IFC were themes of co-design and power shifts, and Esther put forth arguments, that could not be ignored, for a change in the power dynamic of charities and beneficiaries, moving to a model where both parties are active participants in the creation of solutions.

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She invited two of the strongest women I’ve ever seen speak up on stage to talk about their personal experiences as victims of sexual violence (as well as physical violence, and murder levelled against them and their family members). The women also discussed how being part of an international collective of women survivors has helped with the healing process, and the vital part reparations plays in being able to heal and access necessary health and psychosocial services to address the lasting effects of sexual violence. Esther introduced the concept of a global fund for sexual violence reparations, which is currently being developed by the Dr Dennis Mukwege Foundation. In harmony with the collaboration theme, plenary audience members were asked to write down what they were feeling, as well as their fundraising ideas to help fund the global reparations fund. There was a hush as we all left the auditorium. There was a lot to process.

Both the opening and closing Plenaries were emotionally charged, but the incredible generosity of the speakers in sharing their vulnerability helped to create a safe learning space and encouraged open and transparent dialogue, all of which inspired a mind change for me, and I would guess for many other participants too.

Dining with some of the Aussies on the first night, we got talking about our fundraising or charity crushes – the folks we admire and learn from. I can now say from experience, IFC is where you go to find your next charity crush (or handful of crushes)! My first IFC blew me away. I met the most incredible, inspirational people, got some insights into what self-beliefs are holding me back from making more impact, and learned some skills vital to becoming a successful changemaker in any sector, not just the fundraising sector. I’ll be recommending it to everyone.