There are a host of funding sources for social enterprises seeking to scale up their business, and every funding opportunity has its own criteria, focus and investment approach. This can be confusing to navigate and time-consuming. So how do you find the perfect match to ensure you’re investing your precious time and resources wisely?
We talk to Sally McGeoch, Senior Advisor for Westpac Foundation for her advice on finding the right opportunities for your social venture:
“We know how frustrating it can be investing a lot of time in a grant application so we want to take the guesswork out as much as possible. For example, applications are now open for Westpac Foundation Social Scale-up Grants, worth $300,000 over three years, and before you even begin the application in full, all potential applicants first take a brief 10 minute self-assessment survey.
Having been a grant seeker myself before joining the Foundation, I know it can be difficult to assess upfront whether you’re a strong fit for a grant or not. You don’t want to pass up on any opportunities, so you launch yourself into spending hours or even days in the application process. It’s then disheartening to find out later, after comparing your application to successful grantees, that maybe it wasn’t such a strong match after all.
With this in mind, we want to help applicants get a view very, very quickly (hence only 10 minutes!) of the relative strength of their potential application compared to the likely market benchmarks we have seen with our successful recipients.
In the example of our Social Scale-up Grants, we know that our successful grantees’ revenue is currently at least $500,000 with 50% of their income coming from trade, and they employ or train at least 10 people annually that would otherwise be excluded from the workforce.
Our self-assessment survey asks potential applicants four types of questions around eligibility, job numbers, financials and operations. We are looking for organisations that are forecasting to increase their revenue by at least $300,000, and their income from trade to 75%. At the same time we want to see that these projections will also boost their employment outcomes by the end of the three years. This helps us to identify the organisations that already have a proven model and will get the maximum benefit from the grant.
From a grant-maker’s perspective, tools like the self-assessment survey also help us to streamline our approach so we can quickly refer organisations that are not at the right stage or fit for the grant to other better-matched opportunities and allow time to have deeper more focused discussion with high potential applicants. For us, it’s not about the volume of applications, but finding the right fit for our focus on creating jobs for Australians who might otherwise be excluded from the workforce.”
Any final tips for those new to the process of applying for grants?
“Do your research and assess how your business compares to the benchmarks and to those who have already received the particular grant you’re applying for. Look at the successful recipient lists from previous funding rounds and research those organisations to see if you match the funder’s vision and purpose for the grant. It could save you valuable time in the long run.”
Applications for Westpac Foundation’s Social Scale-up Grants worth $300,000 over three years are now open until 5 March. Visit the self-assessment survey to see if this grant is the right match for you. You can also watch the stories of the Social Scale-up Grant recipients from 2017. Applications for Westpac Foundation’s Community Grants which are $10,000 each, open in May 2018 or, for individuals, you may want to consider applying to be a Westpac Scholar.
This post was written by Social Change Central and originally appeared in the Social Change Central Blog.