Submitting a strong grant application…

No matter what grant you and your sporting club seek, you’ll find that many application processes are similar. Being confident in preparing, researching the key information and answering the questions that funders ask will help you greatly as you and your club search for those much needed funds.

Grant guidelines need to be followed and grant applications must provide all the information, statistics and answers that the funder requires. It is important to look at and pre-read the grant guidelines as soon as you can. This will give you the most time possible to submit a successful and informative submission.

Below is a brief description of the sorts of information most funders are seeking.


There’s thousands of sporting clubs, which one are you?

Any funder, no matter what level of money is on offer, will want your organisation to establish its credibility and need for funding. They’ll also want to learn more about your current facilities, capacities and programs and the community in which you operate in.


Why do you want the money?

Grant applications will almost always require you to establish a reason and case as to why your sporting club not only wants, but needs the grant. It is important for you to establish a strong case for funding through facts, statistics, community support and major sponsors.

Your goal or desire in which you’re submitting your grant application for needs to be one in which you can prove your organisation can realistically address and complete what you’re trying to do within the budget and timeframes stated in your application.


Produce evidence:

  • Use up-to-date and accurate data based on research and facts;
  • What deficiencies could be solved if your grant application was successful
  • How would a successful grant application improve your club, it’s projected growth, it’s survival, continual operation or benefit the community.
  • Has your club suffered financial loss or a membership decrease due to not having the funds to achieve what you want to do


Tell the story:

Write a story illustrating the issue will support your application better than dot points or closed sentences. Some things to include could be;

  • Current club capacity
  • Prospective club capacity after the grant
  • If your grant is one for a facility upgrade, explain how a successful application will benefit your town, club, league or even your local council in attracting and hosting events.


Demonstrate community support:

Many funders and philanthropic organisations will require evidence of community support for your club. In addition to this larger applications may require demonstrated support from your league / association, governing body, local council, local member for parliament or regional sports assembly (for you, that’s Valley Sport). Ways you can provide this are;

  • Letters of support
  • Proof of involvement in community initiatives


A match made in heaven:

Regardless of what you want, or need a grant for it must fit in with the funders priorities and guidelines for you to be any chance of success. If it’s not, you are just wasting your time and theirs.

You need to show where the project fits in with the funder’s priorities. Most of the time, grants will come with guidelines or examples of what they will and wont fund. It is important to mention these when you’re telling your story, and highlighting the benefits of a successful grant application.


The plan:

In most cases you will need to show that you’ve developed a clearly defined, creative, achievable and measurable strategy to address the issue/s previously described.

Some key things to include are:

The objectives:

Clearly define the aims and objectives of what you’re seeking to do.

The methodology:

How are your objectives going to be achieved.


How the success of your grant is going to be measured. 


The finances:

Your budget can differ from a simple one-page statement of income and expenses to a more elaborate budget. But remember to be honest, open and realistic. You do not want to budget for half of what you actually need, resulting in half finished facilities or landing your club with an unexpected bill of the shortfall. Nor do you want to over quote by an amount that could cost you a successful application.

If the grant you seek is a dollar for dollar or partial club contribution grant then some funders will allow not-for-profit organisations to claim the value of volunteer labour and other no-cost input as part of their contribution to the project; this is most often described as an “in-kind contribution”.

Your in-kind contribution might include volunteer labour, administrative support, donations of materials, equipment or services. These contributions should be given a clear dollar value and included in your budget as part of your clubs contribution to the project.

It’s important that you read the guidelines to make sure that the value you claim is within the funders guidelines – if it isn’t in the guidelines that they accept in-kind contributions the we advise you contact the funder directly to seek clarification.

Be honest and realistic with valuing in kind contributions. Overvaluing contributions or submitting false information will be easily seen by funders and will cost you your application.

While the in-kind contribution will be acknowledged by the funder, it is important that you understand that it is not actually “paid” to you. It is simply counted as part of your contribution to the project. Normally you will only be able to “claim” a maximum of 25-30% of any project’s total cost in-kind.

A large number of grants will require you to write a final report (acquittal process), demonstrating how you utilised the funding and what the final result was. This not only helps the funder account for their money and provides them with a feel good opportunity, but also the chance to weed out those clubs who may not have spent the money correctly or have accounted for the funding.

When you write your final report or acquit your grant, you will need to demonstrate that the amount of time and effort that you budgeted for in-kind has actually been contributed. A great way to show this is through a volunteer log and photographic or video evidence.


Did you stay on track? And can you spell?

The most important part of any application is reading and understanding the guidelines and aims that the funder has set out. Successful applications follow these to the letter – ensuring that they meet the criteria for the grant. It is widely thought that up to 30% of applications that funders receive do not meet the eligibility criteria.

Once you finish your application, save it- don’t send it, yet. Have someone who hasn’t been involved in the application process check it over to see that it meets the guidelines, nothing’s been left out, and there are no spelling mistakes.

This person could be;

  • A spouse
  • A club person or committee member not involved with the grant application
  • Your local council recreation officer or your Valley Sport representative

It is also advisable to seek someone with financial experience to check the numbers in your budget. This doesn’t have to be as hard as it sounds. Every club has someone involved, or at arms reach with experience in accounting or budgeting. Your club’s treasurer could also be a great help in this process.

Your aim is to get it in before the due date – the majority of applications arrive in the two days closest to the closing date. That leaves nothing up your sleeve for last-minute delays, either at your end or your funders. The more time you give yourself, the more refined and professional your application will be.


But, are you ready to apply for a grant?

Let’s face it. Half the time we see dollar signs and want them. But do we actually need that particular grant, can we successfully pull our application off, do we even have the capacity to apply for a grant?

While a lot of grants can come without warning, you can prepare yourself and your committee by following some of these simple steps.

  • Before the season, sit down as a committee and write a wish list. Do you need new jumpers or uniforms, new goal posts, a full facility makeover? Have this list as a guide when looking for available grants, if it doesn’t fit what your club wants, leave it be.
  • Remember the difference between a need and a want. Clubs with needs will almost always be funded before clubs with wants.
  • Form a grants sub-committee or appoint a grants officer to keep an eye out for grants and table these as soon as they come in.
  • Strike and foster a healthy relationship with your local council, league or governing body. These organisations will be your biggest supporters for major grants and their support could be the difference between success or failure.
  • Form a relationship with Valley Sport. Our project staff work directly in your backyard with the ability to meet you face to face within your council area. Work with our club development programs and show yourself as a community club. In return we can support your applications and help you refine your submissions.
  • Don’t overthink what a grant application entails. Yes, there’s a lot of questions, but that’s because funders need to account for large amounts of money. Take your time and seek support.
  • Remember, you aren’t entitled to just receive a grant. There will be many times where your grant application will be rejected. Sometimes you may have five or more applications rejected before you see success. The key is to save your applications, learn from them and work with Valley Sport on how you can further strengthen your case.
  • If unsuccessful, seek feedback from the funder as to why. Use their feedback to help you develop your grant writing skills.


So, is my club ready to apply for a grant?

Do you know the answers to the questions below? If yes, the chances are that you’re ready to start seeking and applying for grants.

  • Who is your club?
  • What do you want to do?
  • Why do you want to do it?
  • What do you expect to achieve?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How much (and what) will you contribute yourself?
  • How long will it take and when will you need to start?


If you or your club would like further support with understanding your grant application, email or call our friendly staff on (03) 5831 8456