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How to improve your grant applications

2 min read

CEO of GrantReady Adrian Spencer says that a grant application without evidence is like attending a wedding and realising there’s no bride. “Everything looks great, you know what is supposed to happen, but you’re missing the one thing that justifies the occasion.”

While many may not want to hear it, justification is what evidence-based grant writing is all about. First you justify your project need, then you justify your solution and finally you justify why your organisation is best placed to undertake the solution.

Caitriona Fay from The Ian Potter Foundation sees evidence-based grant writing as one of the cornerstones of good philanthropy. “Those applicants that can actually demonstrate the need for their programs will be prioritised above those that can’t or don’t,” Fay says.

The questions of evidence

The questions are, how much evidence, what type and how to use it?

“Like many things in our industry, it depends,” says CEO of R E Ross Trust Sylvia Admans. “We fund grants from a few hundred dollars through to hundreds of thousands of dollars, so we try to be sensible and match requests to risk and need.”

In other words, a funding application for a trial would necessarily require less, and different, data then an application for a program of ten years’ duration.

Statistical evidence

When asked about the type of data to be included Admans says that demographic information is important for major funding proposals because it shows who and where the beneficiaries are, which is especially important if the activity is place-based. Quantitative data enables funders to make simple assessments such as cost per person.

Spencer – who’s been writing grants for eleven years and now works primarily in strategy– says his rule of thumb is 85 per cent hard and 15 per cent soft data. He says “Quantitative evidence can generate focus on the real cause of a problem and drive effective solutions.”

To read the full article and gain further tips for writing an effective grant application see the November edition of Third Sector magazine. If you don’t receive Third Sector magazine you can subscribe via the details in the box below.

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