Finding, applying for and managing grants for community organisations

Use this page to find out about searching for grants, funding application tips, managing and acquitting grants and resources and support for your community organisation.

Grants are funds that you apply for from a funding body. They are tied to a specific project or program and often have set application and project delivery timeframes.

Finding and applying for grants to support your organisational goals can provide a significant boost to your financial position, but it does require effort.

Grant seeking process

The following steps will assist your organisation to identify and apply for available grants to help achieve your goals.

Step 1 - Develop and use your funding strategy

Develop and use your funding strategy to determine which projects may be suitable for grant funding. Remember, most grants are one-off and don't normally fund ongoing administration or maintenance costs.

For more information, read our funding and income sources page which includes information on how to develop a funding strategy.

Step 2 - Assign a grant coordinator

Often organisations miss out on grants because they don't have the right organisational structure in place to identify and apply for them. When there are only a few people doing a lot, opportunities for funding can be missed due to a lack of time and energy from already overworked volunteers.

To prevent this from happening, assign at least one person in your organisation to take the lead and be responsible for identifying and applying for grants and other funding opportunities. In addition to a funding coordinator, a grant coordinator should be a key role in your organisation.

Ideally, your grant coordinator will not be a committee member, as they already have enough demands on their time and generally don't have extra capacity to take on additional work.

Spreading the workload across as many capable people as possible is important to ensure your committee and volunteers do not burn out. It also ensures key activities such as applying for grants and other funding occurs. If your organisation dedicates time and effort to seeking grants and other funding opportunities, you'll reap the benefits.

Other support to help you obtain grants

If you can't get anyone in your organisation to help with grants, consider engaging a consultant.

Step 3 - Identify grants and other funding opportunities

Invest time identifying all the available funding opportunities relevant to your organisation and service delivery.

Create a list including the key details of each funding program (i.e. when the grant round opens, funding amount, purpose and eligible projects). Use this information to decide which grants to apply for. You might like to use grant tracking software to list your identified grant opportunities.

Don't disregard smaller grants. They may not seem significant, but can add up and can often cover costs such as education, equipment, participation subsidies and lower-level maintenance or capital items.

To identify available funding opportunities, research relevant funding bodies and subscribe to receive their notifications. You can also subscribe to funding databases.

Funding and information sources

Queensland Government
Australian Government

Commercial and business grants

Step 4 - Match your needs with the appropriate funding opportunity

One of the keys to becoming a successful applicant is to match your organisation and project with the right grant opportunity.

Creating a project to fit a grant opportunity is not a good approach.

Good planning pays off.

Step 5 - Plan your priority projects

Make sure your priority projects are well planned and scoped out including basic approvals and/or support from key stakeholders. 

Well planned projects that respond to substantiated community needs enable the development of high-quality applications and give you the best chance of success.

Good planning of your projects also enables you to effectively manage and deliver them.

Be mindful that some future projects (e.g. large building extensions) may require significant planning, landowner approval, community consultation, stakeholder engagement and work with the potential funding body to be undertaken before you apply. 

Step 6 - Budget for your priority projects

Budget for your priority projects to ensure you have available funds when a funding opportunity arises. The more money you have to contribute, the greater value for money your project offers. It also demonstrates how important the project is to your organisation.

Having a strong financial position overall demonstrates your sustainability and ability to properly manage funds. It also demonstrates there is community support for your mission, goals and activities. Funders often view their grants as an investment in your organisation.

Remember, most grants are one-off and don't normally fund ongoing administration and maintenance costs.

Step 7 - Establish and maintain relationships with funding providers

While funding applications are assessed based on their merits against outlined criteria, it is always worthwhile establishing and maintaining relationships with relevant funding bodies and other key stakeholders so they keep your organisation in mind when funding opportunities arise.

Be mindful that each funding provider is unique and building a relationship with them will enable you to find out their priorities. It is also an opportunity to keep potential funders up to date with how your organisation is progressing and what your key priorities and goals are.

If you do receive a grant for a large project, keep the funding body informed about how it is progressing. Find out the contact, how they want to stay informed and how often. This will help you to continue building a positive relationship with them.

Step 8 - Keep up to date with funding opportunities

Keep up to date with funding opportunities by monitoring all identified funding sources so you can be well prepared when applications open.

Step 9 - Have frequently requested documentation ready

Have frequently requested documents such as your certificate of incorporation, constitution, ABN number, GST status, most recently audited financial statements, proof of tenure and current membership details ready and accessible for when funding opportunities arise.

Step 10 - Prepare a quality application

Be prepared and take the time to develop a high-quality application that includes all required documentation, provides evidence of the need for your project or program, addresses all selection criteria, details a clear budget and is ready to submit on time.

A poorly prepared application that is missing information and unclear is not worth submitting.

Remember, there are normally more applicants than funds available. A high-quality funding application is your best chance of success.

Funding application tips

Here are some tips to help you prepare a high-quality funding application.

Invest time and be prepared

To ensure you have the best possible chance of success, be prepared and take the time to develop a quality application including addressing all criteria thoroughly and obtaining all required documentation and any relevant support letters.

Leaving it to the last minute and providing inadequate information or submitting an incomplete application will reduce your chances of a successful outcome. Remember, most funding programs are highly competitive.

More complex projects often require quotes, detailed designs, planning studies, development approvals for capital works and letters of support.

Submit your application before the closing date. Late applications are rarely accepted.

Understand the funding program and check eligibility

Carefully read the funding program guidelines including eligibility criteria, closing date, required funding contribution, eligible items and required documentation, to assess if your organisation and project are a suitable match.

Don't waste valuable time and effort applying for a grant you're not eligible for.

Read any additional information such as frequently asked questions and previously funded projects.

Reading all funding documentation will help you understand the funding body and program priorities before you invest time and resources in preparing an application.

Retrospective funding for a project you've commenced is not normally considered eligible. Don't start a project until you've received written notification of grant approval and the funding agreement is signed and returned.

Contact the funding provider

Contacting the funding provider before preparing your application is a great opportunity to:

  • gain more insight into the program objectives
  • determine if your project would be considered a high priority
  • ask for feedback on your proposal
  • find out how you might better position your application
  • ask for clarification on any matters included in the application documentation.

Some funding programs will request potential applicants contact them prior to submitting an application. In this case, it is important you do make contact.

Attend a funding information session 

Attending an information session by a funding provider allows you to further test your project proposal and suitability with those managing the program.

Be prepared to ask questions you need clarification on.

Obtain required approvals

Make sure you obtain any required approvals (e.g. landlord approval for infrastructure and development works) well in advance of the application closing date. This will give you the confidence that you'll be able to proceed with your project, subject to funding approval.

Council community facilities tenants must obtain written approval from Council, as landlord, before undertaking any works at their premises. The application for works process can take up to 20 business days from the date of receipt of a complete application. Complex applications may take longer, so apply early.

Council approval may identify other approvals or works (e.g. development approval, geotechnical testing) is required, which you will then need to include in you project delivery plan and budget.

Be aware that some funding bodies will not accept an application without evidence of landlord approval.

Address the assessment criteria

Read the assessment criteria thoroughly. Consider how you will address each criterion, how your project meets the funding objectives and what evidence you have to support your responses.

Make sure you write as if the person assessing your application has never heard of your organisation or project. In many instances, the assessors will be independent of funding advisors.

Answer every question in the application. Don't leave any questions blank. If a question does not apply, insert 'not applicable'. If word limits are specified, adhere to them. Write clearly and concisely using short sentences and dot points.  Look at the terminology used in the funding program guidelines and try to use the same language when describing your project and how it meets the criteria. Be honest about what you are seeking funding for and why. Assessors will recognise a project that has been modified to 'fit'. Take the time to review your responses and make improvements before sending your application off to others for feedback before submission.

Demonstrate the need for the project and provide evidence

Great applications come from projects identified in your strategic planning and funding strategy and are based on identified needs.

Your project should be genuinely important to your organisation, members and the community. You should demonstrate why the project is needed, who it will benefit, how it will meet your identified need/s and the expected outcomes.

To demonstrate the need for your project, use evidence including:

  • community profile date
  • membership and participation trends
  • community participation and emerging trends data (including state and national trends) 
  • facility condition reports
  • community/member needs survey results and feedback
  • peak body strategic plans and facility requirements
  • key planning and strategic documents.

Assess your proposal against Council's strategic planning documents:

If you are referring to strategic planning documents or statistics, make sure your proposal is relatable and relevant. For example, you might use the WaterSmart Strategy and Brisbane. Clean, Green Sustainable 2017-31 to support your need for water tank installation or an irrigation audit.

Where applicable, you should also obtain written support from your governing or peak body and other key stakeholders who may be involved in, or who support the need for, the project.

Demonstrate the benefit of the project

It is important to not only highlight how your proposal meets the identified need but also to outline the benefits and impact your project will have on your organisation, members and the community.

Detail who your proposal will benefit and how they will benefit, as well as the anticipated long-term outcomes that the delivery of the project will achieve or create.

Your project may:

  • benefit other organisations (e.g. facility sharing)
  • increase the capacity of your facilities to enable more members
  • provide for other target groups or new participants (e.g. females, or another age group)
  • enable improved access and functionality (such as for people with a disability)
  • make the facilities safer and/or compliant with new standards
  • complement or add to existing services and resources within the community.

Funders are always eager to see their money going towards projects that will have a lasting impact on organisations and the community they are supporting.

Demonstrate your ability to deliver the project

Your proposal should clearly define the way in which you plan to deliver, manage and monitor your project and should include milestones and any processes you plan to implement to ensure it is effectively delivered.

If possible, outline your organisation's track record in terms of managing similar projects.

Make sure you include information about who will be involved in the management and delivery of the project, including their expertise, skills, qualifications and experience. This is particularly important for large infrastructure projects.

Depending on the project, provide information on how you'll engage with the community and other key stakeholders when planning and delivering the project.

Prepare a detailed budget

A key part of your funding application is your budget.

Consider the following items in the table below when preparing your budget.

This table includes tips to prepare a detailed budget for grant or funding application.
Be clear about what you want funded
  • Check the funding program guidelines to determine which items are eligible or ineligible.
  • Detail all eligible budget items you are seeking to be funded.
  • Highlight all items your organisation will fund, as well as items where you have confirmed in-kind support.

Note - Funding assessors will question your overall ability to be able to deliver your project if you have included ineligible items.

Be honest and accurate with details

Having a strong financial position demonstrates you can manage your finances and longevity.

Be realistic and don't ask for too little or too much.

Have adequate funds to contribute to the project (where applicable)

If there is a required monetary contribution, make sure you have the funds to cover this. Do not apply if you don't have the funds. The more you can contribute to the project, the better. This demonstrates good value for money and that the project is a high priority for your organisation.

If volunteer hours are eligible to form part of your contribution, use the per hour figure provided by the funding body and clearly detail how you have calculated the figures.

Provide evidence of all costs and comparable quotes

Provide evidence of all budget costs, including the minimum number of recent comparable quotes from qualified providers and any agreed in-kind labour, discounts, or pro-bono work.

All quotes should be itemised, detail the full scope of works or activities, and include the credentials of the provider (e.g. licence number).

If you are including eligible in-kind contributions, provide a breakdown of your calculations.

If you are applying for a Council grant, be mindful that Council has a local buy policy where local contractors and/or supplies from the Brisbane local government areas are to be used to complete works.

Use example budget layoutIf the funding body provides an example budget, make sure you use it.
Ensure your budget figures are correctYour total project income must equal your total expenditure. Ensure all figures are presented as requested (e.g. if the budget is to be good and services tax (GST) exclusive, deduct GST from all quotes and invoices when preparing your budget. 
Demonstrate value for moneyDetail if your project is leveraging off other funding sources, is being delivered in collaboration with other organisations, will result in additional ongoing income, or applies innovation to meet community needs. Highlight the long-term impacts and benefits for your organisation.
Detail if part funding is not an optionIn some instances, successful applicants may not be offered the full amount of funding requested. If you are unable to deliver the project without the full amount of funding, detail this in your application.

Include all required supporting documentation

Ensure you include all required attachments and supporting documentation with your application.

If you have large documents or plans, only include the relevant sections with clear cross references in your application.

If you don't provide all the requested information, your application may be considered  incomplete and may not be assessed. If it is assessed, it may receive a lower score result than a complete application.

Failing to provide the required supporting documentation also signifies to assessors a potential inability to project manage and ultimately deliver your project.

Note - there may be size limits for file attachments and the overall number of attachments you can provide.

Include letters of support from key stakeholders

Your application should detail your relationships with, and links to, all key stakeholders or community groups who will be involved in and/or benefit from the project.

To validate this information, obtain and include letters of support from key stakeholders and community groups to demonstrate their support for the project and how they will benefit from the project.

Where appropriate, gain support from your local, state or federal member.

Obtain feedback on your application before you submit it

Once you have prepared your draft application, get others to read it and provide feedback. Ask committee members or relevant stakeholders to review it.

Obtaining feedback from someone who doesn't have prior involvement in the project can be useful. 

Keep refining your application until others can clearly and easily describe the project back to you.

Remember, even if you have a strong relationship with the funding provider and they are aware of your project, your application will be assessed against the program criteria and is likely to be assessed by someone who isn't familiar with your project.

Keep a copy of your application and all supporting documentation

Once you've completed your application, save a copy of your full application before it is submitted. This should be kept on your organisation's records.

If your committee changes while you are waiting for the application outcome, share the application with the new committee so they know what has been submitted and can follow through with the project if the application is successful.

Submit your application

Check your application is complete and submit it prior to the closing date. Incomplete or late applications are not accepted by most funding bodies.

Make sure your application meets all lodgement instructions, including any declarations or required signatures.

Once submitted, add a copy of the notification that your application has been received and any identification code provided to your funding application records for future reference.

Managing grants

Once you have received a grant, make sure you you manage it well.

Good project management will help you deliver the project and increase your likelihood of being funded again in the future.

Grant management involves:

  • understanding and following the terms and conditions of the funding agreement
  • delivering the project or program as per your funding proposal and obtaining prior approval from the funding body if any modifications are required
  • using the contractors or providers you identified in your proposal and obtaining prior approval from the funding body if modifications are required
  • keeping clear records of all expenditure associated with the project 
  • obtaining any other approvals that may apply
  • taking before, during and after photos particularly if you are delivering physical works
  • keeping records of milestones and all outcomes (both quantitative and qualitative)
  • preparing all documentation to acquit the grant.

If you have obtained more than one grant, create a system to help you manage them. You can use grant tracking software to monitor and manage your grants (including pending grants) and report on them.

If you are a member of Our Community's Funding Centre, you can use their tool to set up your own dashboard to curate, store and manage all of your grants. You can also add grants not listed on the Funding Centre, set tasks, keep track of key milestones and gain insights into your grant processes.

Remember, if the funding body is Council, approval of funding does not imply that Council has given any other consent or approval that may also be required to deliver the project (e.g. development approval).

Store your applications, funding agreements, reports and all acquittal documentation in a single location that is easily accessible.

Acquitting your grant

When receiving grant funding, be mindful that most funding bodies will also require you to acquit your grant to complete and close out the funding process. You will need to demonstrate and provide evidence that the funding has been used for the purpose for which it was provided.

The acquittal requirements should be outlined in your funding agreement. This normally includes:

  • the timeframe you have to complete the project and the acquittal requirements
  • any other documentation or evidence of completion you may be required to provide (e.g. report of financial transactions)
  • the process you need to follow to acquit your grant (e.g. completion of an online form).

If you identify that you are unable to complete your project within the specified timeframe, make sure you notify your funding body as soon as possible. You may be able to negotiate an extension if the funding body agrees.

If you don't acquit your grant within the specified timeframe, there can be significant consequences such as having to return the money, or becoming ineligible to apply for any future funding until your existing funding is acquitted.

If you are having difficulty acquitting your grant, contact your funding body to ask for help.

Resources and support

Australian Government

  • Community Grants Hub - provides guidance on how to prepare an Australian Government grant application

Queensland Government



  • The Funding Centre - an enterprise of Our Community that provides information on grant and fundraising opportunities for not-for-profit organisations, as well as helpful tips and tools

More information

For further information about funding opportunities you may be eligible to apply for, phone Council on 07 3403 8888.

Related links

Last updated:
Topics: leasing

Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.