Sometimes simple is good. The smell of home cooked scones, snuggling under your favorite doona watching an old movie, or without the doona maybe if you are in northern Australia, but you know what we mean.
2020 is already too complicated, thus we are taking a simple approach to grants and funding.
What is a simple approach to grant preparation?
A simple approach to grant preparation is made up of 5 parts:
How do we select the project?
The project you select may be from the smallest adventure playground to a new port or airport. The project should be selected based on what your community or council needs, not the funding provider. It can be part of your strategic plan or agreed by council to help some or all of your community.
Don’t be pressured by funding providers into applying for things you don’t need. I am not sure where the term white elephant came from, but whatever it is, you don’t need one in your council area.
Why have a story?
The story is not about the project, but about what the project will achieve for the State, Territory or Australian Government funding provider. The reason is that the grant application is about achieving the funding providers outcomes, so you tell the story on how you are going to do that for them with your project.
Stories cut through the noise, they make a project personally relatable and the show how you are different. It’s about being human in an age of complexity.What is evidence?
The evidence, which make up the attachments, is the essential proof that what you are saying in the application form can be supported. Every grant program has different evidence and therefore attachment requirements. The evidence and data supports the story. For example, if we say that 3 jobs are to be created, you need to back this statement up with evidence. Collecting the right evidence is the foundation for the application.
What documents do we need to create?
You need to create documentation that clearly presents the evidence. Project plans, business cases, cost benefit analysis, and supporting documentation needs to be presented in a way that the assessors can see that you know what you are doing and are ready.
Section51 tend to focus early on the project plan as this puts all the parts of the project together in one location. For us, this also tests if the project is really ready, to grab those finalised approvals and proof of matching funding. It’s a great test of the project. A project plan is much more than a spreadsheet or Gantt chart. It should be comprehensive and include evidence the project will be delivered and will remain viable beyond the period of construction.
These deserve a blog in their own right as every state, territory and the Australian Government is different. But for the moment the business case is the document that proves an attractive return on investment. As the BBRF guidelines said: ‘Economic benefits for a region may cover increases in economic activity, improvements in productivity, wider access to markets or fairer and more equitable economic outcomes. In responding to this criterion, you must provide evidence to support your claims; this can include cost benefit analysis, economic modelling, business case etc’
For projects over $1 million, a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) will be required. This is the critical proof with numbers that a return on investment for the funding provider will be achieved. The CBA includes the process of quantifying costs and benefits of council’s project (over a certain period), and those of its alternatives (within the same period), in order to have a single scale of comparison for evaluation. You may have heard of a Benefit Cost Ratio of over 1 as the minimum. That is for every $1 invested in the project, there is $1 returned to the economy from that investment.
Every application for the foreseeable future, no matter what the subject area, is likely to require evidence on number of jobs being created. Care is needed on how you present this information. You can't make jobs up, you have to specify the type and number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions. For example, if you have 10 part time employees working 20 hours a week each with full time hours at 40 per week, that would be the equivalent of 5 FTEs.
Are there more evidence documents?
Yes, potentially many more evidence documents, from cash flow through to planning approval and others. In the not too distant future we will devote a blog just to evidence and documents.
The online form?
Online forms can be tricky. Don’t trust them, save regularly and don’t leave it to the last day to register or submit. Register the online form early to get a feel for the layout and how they want the data entered. Remember that the number of characters allowed for each answer includes spaces.
From the Regional Growth Fund: Note: Maximum size of all documents to be submitted is 20MB in total. Be very aware of the number and size of evidence attachments you can submit. Section51 wrote an application recently where the architects insisted that all plans be attached. The plans alone were 68MB, and that was compressed. Another application form had no limits to the number of attachments and had 12 evidence requirements but wouldn’t allow us to upload more than 9 attachments. Testing the form early will save you stress at the end.
What other funding opportunities are available around the States and Territories?
Traditional grant and funding opportunities are a bit quiet now, which is typical for August, but that is likely to change the closer we get to Christmas. Start thinking of each of these steps as the earlier you can begin preparation before grant programs open, the simpler your life will be and the more time for fresh baked scones and that great old movie.
What are the weeks 3x3?
3 things to do this week:
3 things to do over the next 3 weeks:
3 things to do over the next 3 months:
Section51 help you make the grants and process simple. We help you select projects, create the story, collect evidence and data, prepare the majority of the documentation and complete the online form ready for submission. We even bake homemade scones.