Collaborate for Success

With every announcement of a grant program opening for applications, the hopes of community groups rise across Australia. Usually a hardworking committee member will agree to complete the application form and, at the last minute, a flurry of emails and phone calls will request letters of support from other groups to add weight to the application. But is this really demonstrating the collaboration and community wide benefit that grant providers are looking for?

As the former National Grants Manager for the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) and a former committee member of Regional Development Australia Loddon Mallee, I was privileged to see what worked well … and what didn’t.

What worked? When a rural council and multiple community partners stated unequivocally that a multipurpose facility seeking Federal and State Government funding was their #1 priority for the shire, it helped their major capital works project to stand out as being carefully thought through and successfully put it to the top of the recommendation list.

What didn’t? When four individual community groups from the same small rural town all submitted a different project to the one funding round, it was frustrating and confusing. While we wanted to support them, it was difficult to judge which project would have the best outcome for the community. Why couldn't they prioritise? Were they not talking? Could they not agree?

In summary, here are my three tips.

#1 Start planning your project with collaboration in mind.

The more partners involved in the preliminary project discussions, the better chance of its success in identifying the real opportunities to target, attracting funding, and the project being effectively implemented.

#2 Make sure your project is noted in Community and Regional Plans.

Your project gains more credibility if it can be referenced in a Community or Regional Plan. Attend the planning meetings, respond to surveys, make sure everyone else knows what is important to your group/community and that you know what is important to them. Often you will discover that you are all working for the same outcome and it may be possible to put smaller projects under one big umbrella project.

#3 Don’t compete against each other.

There are only so many dollars to be shared in each funding round and it is highly unlikely that multiple grants will be issued to the same town. Agree on what will have the highest impact on your community as a whole and therefore what should be your town or region’s highest priority for this funding round.  Put your efforts into supporting that one project and know that there will be other funding opportunities in the future.

Contact Kerry if you are interested in a Strategic Grant Seeking Workshop for your community.

Never under-estimate the power of a community that comes together with a common purpose.
— Kerry Anderson