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Community grant tips: Reading between the lines

Young surfers at the beach standing on surfboards
Young surfers at the beach standing on surfboards

We've put together some great tips to help with your application for our 2018 Community Grant round.

We're giving charities across Australia a head start to get their applications ready for our Community Grant program, opening 3 April.

We understand that putting together a grant application is time consuming and challenging, so we've put together some suggestions that we hope you can add to your grant writing toolkit, whether you are a first timer or a seasoned professional.

It's important to start with the basics, so make sure you cover off on grant writing 101 before you get started:

Check that you're eligible - for nib foundation that means you need to be a registered charity with DGR status. If you're not sure, it's easy to check your organisation's status at

Download the Grant Guidelines - check that the project you plan to apply for fits our focal areas and funding priorities; that you can address the assessment criteria; and that your request is not on our list of funding exclusions.

Now that you've determined eligibility and that the grant is a good fit for you, here are some tips based on our observations of the many hundreds of applications we read every year. We hope they help you to put together a compelling application that is more likely to stand out from the pack!

Strategic fit - nib foundation likes to be involved with programs that feed into your organisation's overall strategy. Make sure your application conveys how the program you are asking us to support fits the bigger picture of your current strategic objectives.

Getting the rationale right - The right problem: highlight key statistics to show the importance of the issue you want to address. Beyond the data, tell us about the specific circumstances which may exacerbate this issue in your location or client-base. The right solution: what is the evidence behind your chosen program model? Why is the response you have proposed the best option to address the issue. The right organisation: tell us why you are well placed to address the need, including having the right expertise and access to participants.

Recruiting to your program - an often overlooked aspect of program design is the lead-in work needed to identify and attract participants. Tell us how you intend to recruit to the program, including any marketing activities, referral pathway creation or accessing your existing client base.

Right-sized outcomes - we don't expect you to single-handedly solve world hunger with a small one year one-off grant. But we do believe that there is merit in defining and measuring a couple of achievable, short term outcomes. We recommend the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely) approach when writing your outcomes statements. Be sure to make use of our outcomes tips sheet.

Stakeholder buy-in - Your application will be stronger and more developed if you can demonstrate an established relationship with other stakeholders that your project relies on to be delivered successfully. Think about who you will need to work with to recruit participants, gain approvals, confirm co-funding, outsource technical or evaluation components, hire venues or arrange expert speakers or contributors.

Stay true to your mission - It's easy to spot when grant seekers fall into the trap of bending their mission to be a perfect fit to a set of grant guidelines. Try to find the right balance between identifying a good fit with the priorities of the funder, while staying true to your purpose.

Balance of heart and head - Most grant assessment panels are made up of some individuals who will respond more strongly to an emotive human story or case study, and others who are more interested in hard evidence, statistics and facts. Good applications manage to convey both.

These are some tips that we hope will not only help you for our Community Grant, but other grants you apply for as well.

Good luck!