The grant lifecycle

A grant is an amount of money that is given by a funder to an organisation to support specific activities. In the case of the ILC process, the grant is given by the NDIA to successful organisations to support ILC activities. Grants can be short or long term.

They can be linked to specific priorities where the funder wishes for a particular type of activity to be delivered, in a specific area, and they can be used to help an organisation to support and build its existing work, or to support new ventures.

All grants will have an application process where those interested will need to submit formal documentation to the funder. Once this documentation has been submitted, there will be a wait time where the funder then assesses all of the applications before making a final decision as to which organisation will receive the funds.

It’s important to remember that the grant process is not just about applying. You need to step back and look at the whole lifecycle of the grant process to ensure you understand the financial needs of your organisation and find a grant that is right for you.

The grant that you apply for should be ‘best fit’. You should not have to compromise or twist what you do to meet the demands of the grant requirement.

It will also help you when developing your application, giving you tips to make your document stand out. You will want to submit a strong and impactful application to the funding assessor.

Prepare

Let’s start at the beginning.

It is important not to fall into the trap of randomly applying for grants without clearly understanding the goals and financial needs of your organisation first.

Consider the following questions so that you are clear about what you do and the financial support that you need to deliver your activities.

  • Have you made a list of all the key activities you do?
  • Have you then figured out what it costs to run or deliver them – looking at all operating as well as capital costs?
  • Based on the kinds of activities you offer, do you know what type of funding might best suit your organisations' needs?
    • Short term funding?
    • Long term funding?
  • Do you need funding to help grow your organisation - to help you deliver new activities, to new people, in new areas?
  • Do you need funding to help you expand the work and activities that you currently do?
  • Aside from grant funding, do you have any other form of income that supports the activities that you provide?

By answering such questions, you will be able to get a clear picture about how much funding you might need to support your activities, and what type of grant might be appropriate.

You might also want to consider working in partnership with other organisations to achieve your goals. Many sources of funding allow and encourage partnerships. But these take time to organise so it’s worth thinking about this early on in the grants process.

This will then make the next step easier and more targeted for you – researching grants in the market place.

Research

There are a lot of grants out in the market place.

Grants are issued by:

  • Federal and state government
  • Local government (council and shires)
  • Business (corporate foundations, start up, innovation grants)
  • Philanthropy (community foundations, private, business)
  • Universities/TAFEs
  • Not for profit organisations

It’s helpful to do some thorough research to make sure that you find the grant that best supports your organisation.

Be clear about your organisation’s requirements and then think broadly and creatively to see where funding might be available. Look beyond the most obvious sources of funding that you would normally turn to – search widely.

Here are some good places that provide information about different grants that are available.

When you are looking at different grants be clear about what each is offering and what you need to do in return.

You will need to think about the following:

  • Who are the funders offering the grant? Look closely at their websites to understand what makes them tick; their mission and vision, their delivery focus. Understanding the work they have focused on previously will make clear to you what other activities they might be interested to fund. Are your activities aligned to theirs?
  • What are the specific priorities and criteria of the grant? Do these priorities match up with yours? Are you eligible?
  • What is the duration of the grant? Are you happy with this?
  • If you were to receive the grant, when would you receive the funds? Does that timeframe work for your organisation?
  • What are the deadlines for the grant application? Do you think that you can put together a good application in time?

Apply

If you find a grant that is right for you, then it is time to think about what needs to be done to apply.

Your application will need to be strong and tailored to showcase your activities and the resulting outcomes. What makes you unique?

Make sure that you understand all of the information that needs to be included, and the level of detail that is required. You may need to fill out your application online, or print out the application form to manually submit by a specific date.

Allow enough time to write your application and to put together any other supporting documents you think might help support your application. If you are applying in partnership with others, you’ll want to allow even more time. You might want to write and sign Memos of Understanding before you get everyone agreed on the final application.

Learn more: Tips for grant writing

Receive

You may have been told that you have received a grant – congratulations!

All of the work that you put into the preparation, research and grant application itself has been successful. Now what?

Your grant notification will normally outline the next steps you need to take.

Grant agreement review

It’s normal that there is a grant agreement you will need to review, sign and submit.

Read the grant agreement closely to make sure you fully understand all terms and conditions of the grant.

  • Is it actionable? Is it achievable? Is it negotiable?
  • Look to see if you fully understand and agree with the fine print.
  • Do you agree with the activities, timeframes, outputs and outcomes that have been set?
  • Do you understand how progress needs to be measured and reported?
  • Is it clear what success needs to look like?
  • Do you understand when payments will be made?
  • Should the grant agreement be negotiable, do you feel confident enough to challenge any terms or conditions that you think might inhibit your ability to deliver your activity?

The release of the funding to your organisation may be dependent on you confirming at the outset that you agree to all grant conditions. Take time to ensure that the conditions can be met by your organisation in full.

Reporting

Reporting requirements will also be clearly set out within the grant notification.

You will be told when reports will have to be submitted to the funder and what information needs to be included.

It could be that you need only report to the funder at the end of the grant duration. Others might specify quarterly or six monthly reports.

Whatever the case, make sure that you set up clear ways to capture the information that is required regarding your activities, outputs, outcomes and financial position. Having such management data at your fingertips will ensure that it is easy to collate the information you require when the report is due.

When submitting the report, ensure that you follow the clearly set out reporting guidelines, and submit on time.

Additional information

As with most contracts, there may also be a clause that clearly outlines a penalty should you not do what you have promised with the grant money.

If you fail to deliver an activity, fail to achieve a particular set of outputs or an overall outcome, if you fail to submit documentation that the funder has requested, then you might be in ‘breach of contract’.

Make sure that you read and understand any penalty clauses that have been written in the contract so that you can work positively and proactively within the guidelines set.

Deliver

How you deliver on your successful grant application will vary widely depending on the type of grant received. Generally, you will be asked to:

  • Expend the funding that has been awarded
  • Perform the activities you have proposed in your application
  • Submit timely progress and financial reports
  • Report any changes in the project or proposed activities to your funder
  • Collect information to enable monitoring and evaluation of your activities
  • Submit documentation required for closing out the grant

There are a range of resources available to support you on this complex step in the grant life cycle.

One thing that is becoming increasingly common is the expectation from funders that you will prove and improve the outcomes you are achieving for your identified target beneficiaries.

What's next?

Find out about outcomes.