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Grant Series: Be Grant Ready

Business Planning, Grant Funding

Is it worth making the effort to be grant ready?

If you want to reduce your frustration and improve your chances of success, yes.

We get it, you have tonnes of work to do just to keep things running. You are busy. However, instead of being reactive and scrambling to respond to grant applications as they emerge, being grant ready means being in control. You’ll have a clearly defined project with stakeholders on board.

The grant winning secret

So much time is spent talking about getting grants (with a focus on writing the actual application) but not so much about being grant ready. The secret to maximising your chances at winning a grant is being prepared.

In our experience, organisations who make the effort to be grant ready are consistently better at winning grants than those who ‘chance it’. The projects they implement also tend to have better outcomes as they have been more thoughtfully designed.

If you are ready when a grant opportunity arises, you can pull together your proposal by drawing on evidence-based plans to make a strong case for support, instead of frantically trying to design a project and garner support in the tiny window that the grant fund is open for applications.

Being grant ready will also often save you in the long term if you’re engaging professional assistance, as consultants and grant writers will be able to work with you at a methodical pace instead of putting a rush on your project. You’ll also be able to do much of the pre-work and deliver the content they need, instead of them having to tease it out of you at the last minute.

What does being grant ready mean?

In a snapshot, being grant ready means:

  • You know what your priority projects are;
  • You’ve sketched out the details of how you’d implement that project; and
  • You have all the supporting documents you need at your fingertips.

There are four key areas you should be focusing on to be grant ready for a project:

  1. Consult with your stakeholders – Understand their ideas and issues, along with what they could bring to the project. Communicate with them throughout the process.
  2. Deep-dive your project concept – Define the issue your project is responding to (go deeper than just what you are going to do – really explore the why). Then ask yourself, what is the link between the issue and your solution. Is it strong? How could it be stronger? Is this problem already addressed in some way? How is your project different/better?
  3. Prepare your plan – Whether it’s a business plan, a project plan or a business case, you need to have a robust piece of work that shows you’ve thought through how the idea will work in practice and have managed any issues. If you wait until you hear of a grant opportunity to develop this material, it will likely be too late.
  4. Gather your documentation – Prepare a file with the documents typically required by grant applications so you’re not scrambling to find them.

How do you show you can tick the boxes?

You’ll usually need some documentation to support your position. Some examples of the documentation we help clients develop (as well as grant applications) are:

  • Project Plans
  • Stakeholder/Community Consultation Plans
  • Needs Analysis
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Business Plans
  • Business Cases

A good choice for many clients is to invest in preparing a business case – giving you a solid base to demonstrate those four key elements to demonstrate preparedness.

You should also prepare your grant swipe file with copies of resumes, financials, incorporation certificates and the like, rather than scrambling to find them at the last moment.

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A version of this blog post first appeared on Anna Dixon Consulting’s website, our previous brand.

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