If you are hoping to secure grant funding for your business, you cannot skip straight to the grant application – you MUST put in the time to plan your project first. Because grant funding is about projects – grants will only fund a project that has a beginning, an end and outcomes that it delivers when the project is finished. ‘I want funding to help grow my business’ is NOT a project – ‘I need funding to purchase this piece of equipment which will result in increased efficiency, the ability to produce additional products and increase our revenue’ – that is a project.
Project planning is essential because grants assessors need detail, not just a concept or idea. When you seek grant funding, you are asking the funding body to invest in your project so you cannot just approach them with a vague idea. Can you imagine applying for a home loan by saying – I was thinking I wanted to get a house somewhere in Sydney, for somewhere between $400,000 and $4 million – I’m not sure when – maybe in a year or so. Oh yeah and my name is Bob – you don’t need any more information than that do you?!
Funding bodies (particularly Government) need to be certain that the project they fund will deliver the outcomes they are paying for and that the organisation they fund will use the money to successfully complete the project. This is why all grant applications are assessed and run through a process of due diligence – the level of which varies depending on the amount of funding and the funding body. It is impossible for an assessor to complete a due diligence assessment without specific project details.
How can you assess whether the budget is going to be sufficient to cover all the costs of the project if you have not been provided with a detailed budget? How can an assessor determine the scale of impact the project will have if you have not detailed and quantified what the benefits will be and who will benefit?
5 steps to assess your project viability
Assessors need to be able to assess two main things – whether your project will achieve its aims and whether you are capable of completing the project. To make this assessment, they need to know all the specific details of the project, including:
- Evidence that the project is needed and details of the outcomes it will deliver (the why of doing your project)
- Reasonable project time frames (the when)
- Information about who you are, your experience and capability (who)
- How you will actually complete the project – what processes you have in place to oversee the work and make sure it is completed successfully (how)
- Accurate costs of everything you will do to deliver the project (budget)
Essentially, the project planning element is the heart of your entire proposal and tells anyone and everyone, including your grant funders, where you are going, how you will do it and what it will mean when you get there. It also ensures everyone in your organisation, and any contractors, are on the same page and are clear about the expectations in terms of timing, scope of work, communication and budget. Having a clear and concise Project Plan will save your organisation a lot of time, money and problems down the track.
Draft a sound funding project plan
So what does project planning involve? It involves:
- Taking the time to speak with the people who will help you deliver the project and those that will benefit from the project (the stakeholders).
- Setting out the tasks, step-by-step, that need to be completed to deliver the project.
- Allocating required resources to each of those tasks – who will do the task, how long will it take them and how much will it cost?
- Getting quotes and costs estimates and creating a project budget.
- Estimating and quantifying the outcomes based on solid assumptions – how much additional sales/revenue will you realise after you have done this project? How many extra staff will you need to hire? How much more product will you be able to produce?
It is not a 5-minute job, but it is a necessary one. I recommend you use a Project Planning template to guide you and make it a quicker, more efficient and effective process. Grant experts Whitney Consulting have produced a free Project Plan template, which contains all the necessary information you would need to apply for grants or can be used as a stand- alone funding submission document. Click here and enter your details to obtain your free template.
Tara Whitney is unique – not only does she have significant experience and success in developing projects and writing winning funding applications, but she also brings the advantage of over 10 years of experience in local, state, and federal government and has been involved in the establishment of numerous grant fund assessment tools and processes.
Prior to establishing Whitney Consulting, Tara spent the previous 7 years assessing and providing feedback on grant applications for the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program, the biggest grant funding program in Western Australia. This gives Tara an extra edge when it comes to understanding what assessors are looking for in an application.
Tara has managed in excess of $1 billion worth of grant-funded projects across a variety of sectors, including construction, agriculture, aged care, recreation, tourism, health, housing, indigenous business, and transport, and specializes in community projects.
Tara has exceptional analysis skills, which have been refined over the past 15 years analyzing the merits and claims of business cases from a variety of sectors. This included extensive research into the project, financial, cost-benefit analysis, social benefits analysis, comparison of similar projects, and analyzing the need for the proposed project.
We know Tara is unique, but here is also why she is a phenomenal person and business owner – Tara’s team are all mums who work 100% remotely. As a mum herself, Tara realized that going back and forth to an office every day meant time with her children was limited, and knew that had to change. Tara provides a wonderful work-life balance for her team, who get to work from home 100% of the time. As a result, Tara has a team of some of the best grant writers in WA, proving you can be a mum and have a career, as well as an incredibly successful business.