Grant Funding – Stop and assess the view from your verandah: A non-profit perspective

The Four Abilities Framework

As featured in The Country Web Number 58 Autumn 2013 edition. 

In this environment, managing and leading a non-profit is becoming more and more of a challenge, and let’s talk about the white elephant in the room … the ongoing challenge we face attracting outside funding!
Whilst many of you may be familiar with identifying and applying for funding, are you really giving justice to all the time and heartache you spend on these submissions?

There are so many angles and ways to approach a submission and each is customised depending on funder priorities. It’s amazing how much of a story just their questions alone tell us if we really sit and analyse them … something those who are more experienced will do.

However there are a few commonalities that any writer, beginner or advanced, need to include in tenders, award submissions, grants and sponsorship applications. By focusing our energies on addressing these we will be way ahead of our competitors—well, at least the ones that haven’t attended one of my workshops or aren’t reading this article! So if you apply this information you are more likely to be successful—as have hundreds of people I have trained across Australia.

The commonalities are what I call the Four Abilities TM— Accountability, Capability, Viability and Sustainability. This is a model I’ve been developing for some years. It covers the four key areas that all sponsors and funders are looking for in submissions.

So, how does that translate to your submissions? Here are a few questions to ask as you sit down to write.

1. Accountability – You will need to demonstrate that you have governance processes in place. Most funders want to ensure that you comply with statutory requirements such as conflicts of interest and confidentiality. Do you have a code of conduct or a confidentiality agreement? Do you have a register of interests you maintain? Do you have policies and procedures that are used and updated? What are your risk identification and management practices like? What about an audit? What are the accountability systems you have in place to govern the project and your organisation?

2. Viability – Are you a viable organisation? Do you have a track record for delivering similar programs? Do you have any ‘skeletons in the closet’ like funding projects that
have previously gone awry? Do you have enough cash at bank to cover liabilities—are you solvent? Is the program you are proposing really going to work in your community? Just because it worked in another community well, doesn’t mean it will work well in yours. Is the project right for the target users, have you forgotten or missed any user groups that would benefit?

3. Capability – Who is leading the project? Do they have the skills, knowledge and capacity to deliver? If you will they be available to help you out with all those tasks and
maybe extra hours … really? What experience exists on your project committee or board, do you have a project manager? Why should your organisation receive funding over another organisation—what makes you better? Do you have better relationships with the target group(s) and evidence of this with examples?

4. Sustainability – How will the project continue beyond the funding you are receiving? How will the outcomes and outputs you have identified continue beyond the funding? Will this project really benefit your organisation, is it going to help you become more sustainable? If not, it may sound like a “cash-grab” so why are you doing it?

By addressing these points in the relevant questions throughout your application you will demonstrate that your organisation and the project is a low risk and that you are the best organisation to partner with the funding body to achieve their/your goals.

For more information on the Four Abilities; Governance; funding and other non-profit issues including free courses and assistance: .We also recommend Easy Grants newsletter for news on funding opportunities and grants: 

*Natalie is a Business/NFP Consultant, NFP Governance Specialist and Coach, Engaging Trainer and Facilitator. With over 15 years in the non-profit funding world as an assessor on grant, award and tender panels Natalie also writes, trains and mentors others and personally holds a 92% success rate.

About nswrwn

NSW Rural Women’s Network is a government program working in innovative ways to promote leadership and action on rural women’s issues. The RWN team is dedicated to connecting and exchanging information with women and stakeholders in rural, regional and remote communities.
This entry was posted in boards and committees, bursary, business, Communities, education and training, leadership, Marketing, Mentor, resilience, rural women, small business, women, women's networks. Bookmark the permalink.

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