Community Grants Policy

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    This policy outlines Brisbane City Council's approach to providing grants to community organisations and individuals.

    Council established its grants program to provide support to community groups and individuals in recognition of their vital contribution made to Brisbane's development and community well-being.

    1. Community grants policy context

    This policy demonstrates and outlines Council’s role in supporting the community. Community grants extend the community’s capability to conduct activities, create opportunities for community capacity building, develop and maintain sustainable community infrastructure and build strong partnerships for community benefit.

    This policy also assists councillors and Council employees to achieve consistency in corporate processes and procedures when developing, assessing, monitoring, acquitting and evaluating grants. 

    This policy identifies:

    • the definition of a grant
    • the definition of councillor discretionary funds
    • how to distinguish between a grant, donation, sponsorship, discretionary funds and subsidy
    • types and objectives of grants to community organisations
    • general eligibility criteria for community groups and individuals wishing to apply for grants.

    2. Applicability of policy

    This policy applies to all Council grants, and councillor discretionary funds provided for community projects.

    This policy adheres to requirements under the City of Brisbane Regulation 2012 (Sections 181, 186, 187, 191 and 194). This policy does not govern Council’s provision of sponsorship, subsidies, or donations.

    2.1 Community grants policy

    The community grants policy includes:

    1. the criteria for a community organisation to be eligible for a grant from Council
    2. types of grants to community organisations that Council considers meet the criteria
    3. the procedure for approving and acquitting a grant to a community organisation
    4. the criteria for a Councillor to decide how to allocate the Councillor’s discretionary funds for community projects.

    2.2 Grants to the community

    Council may give a grant to a community organisation only:

    1. if the Council is satisfied:
      1. the grant will be used for a purpose that is in the public interest; and
      2. the community organisation meets the criteria stated in the Community Grants Policy; and
    2. in a way that is consistent with Council's Community Grants Policy.

    3. Definitions

    A grant is a payment provided to a recipient for a specific purpose or project, generally as part of an approved Council program, with the understanding that there will be a defined outcome that directly or indirectly benefits the public, but with no expectation of commercial return to Council. Grants are subject to conditions (particularly reporting and accountability and a requirement for the funds to be expended for the direct purpose they were granted). Council requires some form of recognition for grant funding, as detailed in funding agreements.

    Councillor’s discretionary funds are funds in Council’s operating budget that are for use by a councillor at the councillor’s discretion for the benefit of the community.

    A donation is a voluntary gift given, typically, to a non-related charitable, public purpose or not-for-profit organisation, without any material benefit or advantage being received by Council in return and provided without any conditions or contractual obligations. A donation may take various forms, including cash, services, new or used goods. Charitable gifts of goods or services are also called gifts in kind. The person or institution giving a gift is called the donor and the person or institution receiving the gift is called the donee or recipient. For more information, see Corporate Rules AP200 Donations Policy.

    Sponsorship is the right to associate the sponsor’s name, products or services with the sponsored organisation’s service product or activity, in return for negotiated benefits such as money or promotional opportunities. It involves a negotiated exchange and should result in tangible and mutual compensation for all parties in the arrangement. ‘In-kind’, or contra or non-monetary sponsorship is a form of sponsorship where goods and/or services are provided instead of cash. Both parties must agree a cash value for the items. For more information, see Corporate Rules for Sponsorship; CC012 Sponsorship Policy; and CC013 Sponsorship Procedures - Giving and Seeking Sponsorship Procedure.

    A subsidy is a form of government financial assistance paid to a business or economic sector. A subsidy can take several forms which are conditional upon meeting specific criteria. A subsidy can be used to support businesses and to encourage activities that would otherwise not take place. For example, a subsidy would form part of the total cost of a particular scheme or project providing public services (e.g. an apprentice scheme or health research).

    4. Policy

    4.1 Principles

    This policy provides a framework for Council’s grant program. Council undertakes to apply the following principles:

    • transparent and effective processes, and decision making in the public interest
    • sustainable development and management of assets and infrastructure, and delivery of effective services
    • democratic representation, social inclusion and meaningful community engagement
    • good governance of, and by, local government
    • ethical and legal behaviour of councillors and local government employees.

    Council acknowledges its role in supporting, assisting and partnering with community groups that provide important services that meet community needs, and furthers Council’s aims and objectives.

    Funding priorities for individual grant programs will be reviewed to ensure relevance to achieving Council objectives.

    4.2 Community grants objectives

    The community grant programs help deliver Council's citywide outcomes stated in Brisbane Vision 2031 — including but not limited to outcomes of a friendly and safe, active and healthy, vibrant and creative, clean and green City.

    The types of grants Council provides support Council’s vision for Brisbane and includes, but is not limited to, arts and culture, history and heritage, community development and capacity building, environment and sustainability and sport and recreation.

    The objectives of Council’s grants are:

    • to provide support to community groups and individuals in recognition of the vital contribution made to Brisbane’s development and community well-being
    • to provide a means for the community to address current and arising issues and trends
    • to provide an opportunity for social inclusion and community engagement for the community of Brisbane
    • to provide transparent and effective processes and decision making.

    4.3 General eligibility criteria

    Individuals and not-for-profit organisations are eligible to apply for Council grants.

    An applicant applying for a grant must operate within the Brisbane Local Government Area (LGA) or be able to demonstrate that the project will benefit residents of the Brisbane LGA. The applicant must:

    • have appropriate insurance and workplace health and safety policies in accordance with the funding agreement
    • demonstrate that the grant will be used for a purpose in the public interest
    • have met all acquittal conditions of previous Council grants and have no debt to Council
    • be financially viable.

    If a community organisation is not incorporated, the organisation can apply for a grant provided that the application is auspiced and administered by an incorporated community organisation. An incorporated organisation may auspice one or more individuals or community groups which are not incorporated. The auspicing organisation can also lodge applications on its own behalf.

    Eligibility criteria for each type of grant must be published for that grant when applications are requested from the community. 

    4.4 Practices

    When Council’s annual budget allocates funds for community grants, the community will be informed of the relevant guidelines pertaining to the grant program and include information on:

    • program priorities
    • criteria and eligibility
    • acquittal requirements, and
    • administration processes.

    The procedural implementations are documented in grants procedures manuals (the manuals) maintained by Council’s Grants Administration Unit. The manuals are maintained in collaboration with all internal stakeholders.

    The manuals include, but are not limited to:

    • a checklist of processes from receipt of applications to acquittals; and
    • templates and documents including:
      1. assessor training manual
      2. grant procedures for specific grant programs
      3. document / file management / record keeping procedures, and
      4. evaluation and performance reporting requirements.

    The SmartyGrants online grants system is used to manage the full lifecycle of each grants program and key associated documents, including application, assessment, administration and acquittal forms. Grant guidelines are stored on Council's website. Grant applicants also access the application form via the website.

    4.5 Grants priority development

    Priorities for each grant program are contained in the grant guidelines to be published when the grant applications are made available to the community.

    Priorities will be based on an examination of:

    • evaluation of previous years grants program effectiveness
    • Council’s corporate objectives and strategies, and current service provision
    • arising trends and issues in the community and not-for-profit sector
    • key public policy agendas
    • gaps in existing service provision within the community
    • the amount of funding available for disbursement.

    Performance measures are determined and reported annually to the relevant chairman to assess the effectiveness of each grant, and each grant program.

    4.6 Councillors' discretionary funding for community projects

    Councillor’s discretionary fund's objective is to support community projects that build stronger communities and contribute to the life of the city and address community issues. Eligible applicants include community organisations and Councillors for projects with a community purpose.

    4.6.1 Allocation of discretionary funds by Councillors

    A councillor must allocate discretionary funds according to the criteria set out in the requirements of the City of Brisbane Act 2010 and the City of Brisbane Regulation 2012.

    4.6.2 Requirements about discretionary funds

    Discretionary funds must not be used for supplying administrative support service for performing the Councillor's responsibilities under the Act.

    4.6.3 Councillor’s discretionary fund criteria

    The criteria for a Councillor to decide how to allocate discretionary funds to the community is guided by the contribution projects will make towards achieving Councils vision, including but not limited to the following:

    • Friendly and safe – encourage projects that respond to local community issues.
    • Active and healthy - encourage projects that increase participation in community sport, recreation, physical health and activity
    • Clean and green - encourage projects that address environmental issues in the local community
    • Vibrant and creative - encourage arts and cultural projects that stimulate the local community’s creativity and cultural development.

    In applying these criteria to applications from community organisations for discretionary funds, Councillors must also consider the priorities for the allocation of Councillor’s discretionary funds in the discretionary funding guidelines.

    Funding applications will also be assessed against and required to address:

    • evidence the project meets the objectives of the discretionary funding
    • evidence the project is realistic with regard to the following:
      • aims and objectives of applications
      • timeframes
      • support from the community
      • budget
      • additional costs/in-kind costs
    • evidence that the funding demonstrates benefits for the community.

    Approving authority

    Council 31/05/2011

    Policy owner

    Manager Connected Communities Branch, Lifestyle and Community Services Division

    Further assistance

    Community Grants Team Leader Connected Communities Branch

    Related information

    • City of Brisbane Regulation 2012
    • CC012 Sponsorship Policy
    • CC013 Sponsorship Procedures - Giving and Seeking Sponsorship Procedure
    • AP200 Donations Policy
    • Brisbane Vision 2031

    Review date

    August 2019 (last reviewed August 2017)

Last updated:9 May 2019
Topics: grants