Applying for a grant? Read on for Jo Garner’s nine top tips to getting your application right. And remember, the most important element is to give your organisation enough time!


major gifts heart foundationThe question of grants success rates is a common one, universally. The fact is, no matter where you are working from, whether a grant application is successful or unsuccessful is not generally dependent on one contributing factor. It relies on a combination of all the elements of best practice grant-seeking coming together to achieve a successful outcome.

So, what are the essentials that will lead you to a successful grant-seeking strategy?

  • Ensure that the project for which you are applying for funding meets the eligibility criteria and the guidelines for the specific funding round. Of course, you will have already confirmed that your organisation is eligible to apply to the particular funder.
  • You can demonstrate the need for the project with a strong evidence base.
  • You are clearly defining why your organisation is the best to deliver this project and receive the grant, and you have given the funder confidence you will deliver the project in the way you have said you would.
  • You are stating how your organisation/project is different from others that may be similar, that is, it is filling a gap.
  • Your project results will deliver the funder’s desired outcomes and its selection criteria can all be met and exceeded.
  • You are able to measure the results of the project; outputs, outcome and impact forecasts.
  • The amount of funding you are seeking is in line with the levels of grants being made.
  • Collaborative partnerships with similar organisations are a priority and part of your program delivery, as relevant and wherever possible, to prevent duplication and increase dissemination of sector-wide learning.
  • You will be able to complete the project on time, and provide the final report on time.

Because grants are major gifts, it is important to apply a major gift, relationship-based approach to your grants program. Wherever possible, speak to the funder to discuss your application and ask for clarification on anything that is not clear. And take the funder’s advice. If they advise that your project isn’t likely to receive funding, then don’t go ahead and submit anyway.

And the big one – plan ahead! Last minute applications will typically not present your best case. When you are rushing, steps are skipped and quality wanes.

Special offer

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Jo Garner

Jo is director of strategic grants; co-founder of Women & Change; and the Australian and New Zealand Ambassador for the International Fundraising Congress (IFC). She will be presenting a masterclass and workshop on grant-seeking at IFC Asia, taking place 26-28 June in Bangkok.


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