Eight top tips for grant writing success

Did you know that in July 2021, there were around 1,935 grants available in Australia, worth over $72.5 billion?

While many organisations believe they are entitled to a grant because they have built a good business, have proven processes in place, and are well managed, the reality is that grants almost always fund specific projects and are a vehicle for government to enact their policy in a particular area.

Recently, an influx of new grants has been announced as a result of the Federal Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This health crisis caught the nation slumbering in its reliance on imported products from low-cost economies, and triggered the need to bring critical sovereign capability, such as medical products, back to Australia.

We regularly hear statements like: “I’ve built this business using my own money and have never applied for government assistance”, “I heard that XYZ got a grant, why did I miss out?” and an old favourite: “I pay my taxes, it must be my turn”.

If this sounds like you, keep reading to find out more about the grant application process, and how you can write a compelling grant application.

Who provides grants?

Grants come in all shapes and sizes – from $750 community grants, to multimillion dollar manufacturing grants.

They are offered by all levels of government and philanthropic groups, including trusts and foundations, corporates and high-net-worth individuals, like Twiggy Forest’s Mindaroo Foundation.

Almost all business grants come from state and federal governments with local governments being very active within their own communities.

The Federal Government also co-funds some state government programs, whereby both levels of government contribute to a grant program to boost the grant pool.

Who can receive grants?

In the business environment, grants are provided for projects, not organisations.

You cannot get funded to run your business as this would be considered ‘business as usual activities’.

You need to identify a specific business need (such as a new tool or capability) and present it as a project. All projects must have a start and finish date, and generally incorporate milestones that the grant can be paid against.

Why grant applications usually fail

Typically, grant applications fail because:

  • The organisation does not fully understand the provider’s motivation (policy position), and as a result, does not adequately address the specific assessment criteria of the grant program.
  • Grant applications are treated reactively. That is, a grant opportunity presents itself, and the organisation fails to deliver a compelling business case which elevates them above all others that apply, within the available submission timeframe (generally four weeks).
  • Not enough, or incomplete information is supplied. Every grant application is based on ‘answering the questions’. These questions are specific and designed to tease-out the information that the provider is seeking.

R&D Tax Incentive versus grants

Unlike grants, the R&D Tax Incentive is a rules-based entitlement program.

If your organisation is an eligible entity and you undertake eligible activities as prescribed in the legislation, then you are entitled to the relevant tax offset subject to registering your compliant activities.

On the other hand, the vast majority of grants available are competitive, which means your application is competing against a range of other applicants for a defined pool of funds.

More often than not, the amount of grant applications received outweighs the funds available, so your application must be superior than your competitors.

Top tips for grant writing success

  1. Think about grants as part of your business strategy, and be proactive rather than reactive.
  2. Have a plan. Where do you want to be in the next ‘X’ months/years? What capability/equipment/resources will you need to achieve your goals? A business plan is a good vehicle for this exercise.
  3. Although grants differ in their requirements, in many cases they seek to understand your management capabilities and structure, turnover and budget and your need for funding. Prepare in advance, and make sure you have this information handy.
  4. Once you have your plan, research the government agencies that relate to the areas/industries that you operate in. You may be surprised at the number of agencies that ‘touch’ your particular industry.
  5. Once you have found the agencies, research their policy areas and become familiar with them. Answer their questions directly to specifically address their policy priorities.
  6. Put yourself is the seat of the assessor and look at the reasons why they may not support your project. Have you clearly answered the merit criteria?
  7. Validate claims or statements with external data and/or referee’s testimonials.
  8. Think about why the grant program exists from a policy perspective, and write your application to reflect how your project will assist in the achievement of the policy.

A valuable partnership

Recycling Plastics Australia (RPA) is Australia’s leading mixed plastics recycler, located in Kilburn, South Australia.

Since its inception in 2018, RPA has partnered with Bentleys for its R&D Tax and innovation incentive advice.

RPA has aggressive expansion plans to process up to 120,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year due to the federal government’s ban on the export of waste plastic.

Achieving this target requires significant investment in advanced processing technologies and RPA reached out to Bentleys for help applying for both state and federal grants.

“As a small team, applying for grants can be a complex and time-consuming process, so we once again reached out to our friends at Bentleys for their expert advice.

“By working closely with the Bentleys team, we have been successful in securing over $10 million in both state and federal grants.”

– Peter Gregg, Managing Director, Recycling Plastics Australia.

How can we help?

At Bentleys, we know that applying for grants can be daunting and time consuming – so let us do the leg-work for you! .
We’ll undertake research to find the grants that best suit your business needs, and analyse the opportunities, assess these against your best chance of success, then write the application with your input.
Contact your local Bentleys advisor for assistance with crafting your next compelling grant submission.

Disclaimer: This information is general in nature and should not be relied on as advice. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs and seek professional advice before making any decisions based on this information.

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