Navigating grants and current trends

3 min read
22 Nov 2023

A reflection on new opportunities and challenges in grants in 2023, year-to-date.

In this article we run through the latest developments we think you should know about.

Key takeaways:

  1. Grants continue to play a crucial role in supporting Australian communities.
  2. 2023 has seen a surge in new funding opportunities as we moved further from COVID-19 lockdowns and associated impacts.
  3. Over 2,000 grants are currently open and there is no slowdown in sight.
  4. We have heard more from grant seekers frustrated with complex programs and low success rates.
  5. But we have also celebrated with many of our members who have been successful with their applications, often for the first time.

Here are a few general observations on the state of play in grants right now:

  • There are more grant programs open for applications than there were a few years ago during the escalation of COVID-19.
  • Many funding providers have narrowed some programs' eligibility criteria, reflecting a shift in focus from broader support for COVID-19 affected communities and a return to seeking strong alignment with more specific objectives and outcomes.
  • Funding providers still change program dates and add new information. Some programs even close early due to receiving 'enough' applications. Always check for updates! If you're a member of The Grants Hub, we can keep you informed of program updates through our Tailored Grant Alerts to help you stay on top of every change.
  • We are seeing more 'Always Open' grants. These grant programs accept applications on an ongoing basis, allowing organisations to apply when it best suits their project timelines. This approach promotes a more flexible and efficient grant-seeking process and removes some of the 'pressure' of having a deadline.
  • More programs encourage time-efficient application processes, reducing the burden on applicants. There are more calls for Expressions of Interest (EOIs) and a 2-stage application process. These approaches are helping to reduce the administrative burden on grant seekers and funding providers.

When it comes to government funding programs:

  • The federal government has announced several major funding programs recently. Some of these have complex application processes, including multiple resource documents and addendums. You need to stay on top of deadlines so that you have enough time to prepare. Consider a tool like our Grants Calendar to help you track deadlines in one place, and even receive deadline reminders ahead of time.
  • Trending government grants include programs that will support environmental stabilisation, pathways to employment, enabling education, programs for people with disability, and other exciting opportunities.
  • There have been very few new COVID-19 funding programs from government. Remember a few years ago when it seemed like every other non-competitive grant was in aid of businesses and individuals to support pandemic recovery? That focus is well and truly behind us.

Philanthropic funding providers are increasing funding:

  • Some philanthropic grant programs that were closed to applications in 2020-22 have re-opened or are planning to open for applications again in the near future. This is fantastic news for grant seekers because some of these programs were very popular.
  • There has been an increase in the number and visibility of climate change and environmental funding opportunities, as well as more grants for grassroots communities.
  • Private Ancillary Funds (PAFs) are on the rise. PAFs are a particular type of philanthropic trust that enable individuals, families, and even businesses to make gifts (including grants) to charities. This structure enables donors to have a lot of control over where their money is going.
  • Grant seekers are increasingly interested in who and how they might approach decision-makers at philanthropic trusts with funding proposals. Donors are, in turn, seeking to fund causes that they connect with and that align with their values. These funding providers are interested in impact.
  • Importantly, grant seekers need to focus more on building relationships with philanthropic funders as much as possible. It’s also very important to demonstrate alignment with funding provider objectives to succeed with your grant application.

There are more resources to help you secure funding for your initiatives:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is available in new applications all the time and can be a useful tool in many ways.
  • Directors, fundraisers, and volunteers are looking to tools like ChatGPT to help them with grant writing. However, the message from experts and funding providers is clear: these tools are wonderful for brainstorming, not for producing polished content.
  • Ready to apply and want to put your best foot forward? Consider an expert grant writer who can help you pull together a stellar application. You may even be able to re-purpose some of the materials for future applications!
  • A grants finder like The Grants Hub is an invaluable resource to help you keep track of new grant opportunities, without having to do hours of groundwork yourself. Members who use our features have more time to focus on relationships and pulling proposal documents together, on time.
  • We are releasing enhancements and have new features on the horizon. Our latest update gives you the ability to search grants 'Opening Soon' in our Grants Directory, to make it even easier for you to keep tabs on upcoming opportunities.

Whew, there is so much going on in grants. We are excited to see what the rest of the year will bring - stay tuned!

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