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Grant Series: What is a Grant?

Business, Grant Funding

Here are the basics you need to know about grants, whether you’re a business, a community organisation or not-for-profit…

Grants are payments

Grants are payments that do not have to be repaid and are given for a specific purpose (so you need to prove why you need it and exactly how you’ll use it). These are often made by governments or organisations (such as corporations or foundations). These organisations are called the ‘grant maker’ or ‘funding body’.

They usually focus on benefit

Most grants have a particular focus or theme. Generally, grant-funded activities have a wider benefit for the community or a group within the community, or the economy.

In the community space, they are generally provided for projects that would be difficult to run on a commercial basis but have an important benefit that means the grant funder is willing to invest in them.

In the commercial sector, grants are often provided to accelerate a particular project, aligned with the priorities of the government.

When can you apply for a grant?

Some grants are ‘always open’, so you can make an application at any time.  Other grants are offered in ’rounds’ – this means that there will be a short window during which you can make applications. Others are just ‘one-off’ opportunities. There are also some ongoing operational fund grants for specific organisations, but these are now less common.

What are the requirements of a grant?

Grants usually need a formal, written application. These can vary from being quite simple forms through to complex and detailed documents with lots of supporting documentation required.

Grants provided by government generally have tight guidelines and reporting measures. As the funds come from public monies, there is a high degree of scrutiny of how the money is spent.

Grants from other organisations may have varying levels of accountability requirements.

Either way, most grants must be ‘acquitted’. This means the grant recipient needs to account for how the funds spent. Most acquittals also need an explanation of the outcomes of the grant-funded activity.

Why apply for a grant?

Good reasons to apply for a grant:

  • You have a great idea for a project and it aligns with your organisation’s or business’ focus.
  • You would really benefit from new equipment or infrastructure that would help you better meet your organisation’s or business’ purpose.
  • You’ve researched funding options and identified the grant tightly aligns with your planned activity.

Not so good reasons…

  • You saw the grant come out and thought up something to fit, if the funding wasn’t there, you wouldn’t do it.
  • You have a really great idea, but if you applied for the funding, you’d have to substantially alter what you were planning to do.
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