Top 10 Tips for Working
Trusts and Foundations
0417 068 483
It is imperative to research the most appropriate Foundations and Trusts in relation to your
organisation’s needs. There are a number of ways you can do this including:
• The Australian Directory of Philanthropy – printed version or online
• Our Community Easy Grants online subscription
• Annual reports of other arts and community organisations
• Internet searches of Foundations and Trusts – www.google.com
• Contacts, word of mouth – talk to other arts and community groups
• Media and newspaper reports
2. Make a Shortlist
Once you have done some research, make a shortlist of the Foundations you think line up
best with your mission and work.
• Don’t send an application to hundreds of foundations!
• Make a shortlist and concentrate on the ones that are more likely to fund you
• Make sure they can legally fund in your area and your type of organisation
• Review each foundation’s website to familiarise yourself with their priorities for funding,
the funding guidelines and application process
3. Develop relationships
Work to develop relationships with the foundation’s that you plan to make an application to.
Contact each foundation and arrange to meet with the appropriate person(s). Make an
impression. If the foundations you have selected are not located in your own state, plan a
visit to where the foundations are to meet with them. Remember, foundations are generally
lean on staff so make the meeting matter!
Take along relevant documentation of your company’s work – aim for a good balance – not
too little and not too much! A good Annual Report is an excellent snapshot of an organisation
– make sure it is current. Show a DVD of the work or if the foundation representatives are
too busy to view it during the meeting, leave a copy and encourage them to watch it. Invite
foundation representatives to any shows that you have coming up. And, it they attend, make
sure they feel welcome and create opportunities for them to learn as much about the
company as possible. It is important that the foundation has the opportunity to learn about
and appreciate your company’s work.
Ask people of note connected to your company to provide endorsement of the important
work the company is doing.
Above all, demonstrate your belief in the company and the importance of the company’s
work. Talk to them about your ideas for funding and seek their feedback.
Follow up! Again, balance is the key – not too little and not too much! But, keep in contact
and keep the foundation informed of any key event or information about the company.
4. Before Writing Your Application
Know your project! You must be clear about:
• what you will do with the funding
• why it needs to be done
• who will benefit from it
• how it will make a difference
• how you can show the work made a difference
When in doubt, ask!
If you’re not sure whether your project fits in with the foundation’s aims, give them a call or
drop them an email to ask. It is better to do that rather than spend a lot of time on an
application which has little chance of being funded.
Give yourself enough time. Like any good event or project manager, set the time of when the
application is due and work backwards from there. Build in extra time for contingencies.
Don’t wait for the due date, get the application in as soon as it is ready and then follow up to
ensure that the foundation has received it and has all the information they need.
6. Concise, Clear and Well Written Application
• Follow the guidelines
Guidelines are there to help you self-select and conserve resources. Foundations will
follow their own guidelines when they review submissions, it is imperative that you
follow each foundation’s guidelines when you are writing your application.
• Keep it short
The person – or people – reading your submission may have dozens of others to read
within a short space of time, and if yours is concise, clear and well written, it will really
• Use plain language.
Don’t get too flowery and elaborate or use the latest jargon. Plain language is
important. Make sure you spell out any acronyms and explain any unfamiliar concepts.
• Who, what, where, when
Make sure you cover the basics in a clear and concise way.
Who is going to do the work?
Who will the project help? Specify who and how many as well as the long term or
What work will be done?
Where will it be done?
When will it happen and how long will it take?
• Concentrate on the evidence and the benefits
If you can, build an evidence base for your funding case. And remember, Foundations
are most interested in what good work will be done as a result of the funds they
provide. Unlike sponsors, they are not so interested in free publicity or other perks.
• Don’t get too emotional
Remember that the person reading the submission will have at least some awareness
of the issues, but what they’re really interested in is what you’re going to do to address
• Remember the numbers
Provide the grantmaker with some figures – for instance, how many days will the
exhibition or show will be on, how many people will attend?
• Edit the application
Get someone who has not read the application who has editing skills to proof the
application before you submit it. Ensure you allow yourself enough time to do this.
Silly mistakes are unnecessary and distract from the content of your important work.
• Let the application rest over night before you submit it
You will invariably pick up minor mistakes when you leave the application overnight
and view it with fresh eyes before submitting it.
• Don’t underestimate costs
Make sure you have worked out how much the project will cost and provide a realistic
budget. Approach multiple funders if necessary to make up the total project budget.
Remember, most foundations like to co-fund so ensure you list all of your confirmed
and unconfirmed income along with your project expenditure costs. Keep the
foundation informed when full or partial funding comes through.
• Ensure you supply everything that’s asked for
Incomplete applications cannot be processed. Don’t make the foundation chase you
for information that they requested as part of the application process. If they ask for
your annual report or ATO certificate of endorsement, send it along with your
application. A simple check list as per each foundation’s requirements is a good way to
ensure you have supplied everything that has been asked for.
• Don’t be discouraged
All foundations receive many more applications than they have the resources to fund.
If at first you don’t succeed, follow up and seek feedback from the foundation about
where your application fell down. Talk to the foundation about submitting another
application (for that project or another idea depending upon the feedback you receive).
10. Final Tips
• Relationships, timing and concise applications are critical!
• Foundations are very independent; they do not have to please shareholders, customers
or voters – they can fund where others may not go.
• They are not moved by free publicity, monetary returns or “perks” – they want to see the
positive benefits to the community as a result of their funding.
• Foundations have traditionally preferred to fund projects however some are now starting
to look at funding capacity building of organisations.
• Foundations generally don’t like to make an open donation to a large “bucket” – it is
important to ask for a specific amount and tell them exactly what you will do with it.
The Philanthropy Australia website is designed to provide both grantmakers and
grantseekers with useful information. It includes fact sheets and frequently asked questions
on the philanthropic sector, a glossary, links to other organisations and information on
Philanthropy Australia’s advocacy work, events, workshops and other services.
Australian Taxation Office
The ATO website includes a section specifically built for non-profit organisations such as
charities, societies, clubs and associations.
Cultural Sector Grants and Services Database
This website has a search facility for government grants and other government financial
assistance within the Australian cultural sector.
GrantsLink is a source of information for Commonwealth Government grants for
communities. The site allows you to search or browse for Commonwealth grants and also
offers general information on preparing Government grant applications.
Fundraising Institute of Australia
The Fundraising Institute of Australia provides education, information, training and
professional development for fundraisers.
ourcommunity.com.au is a resource site for community groups which provides fact sheets, a
free online donation & volunteer service and practical information.
Pro Bono Australia
Pro Bono Australia offers a directory of nonprofit organisations seeking funding, a free
electronic newsletter containing items of interest for the sector, and listings of events and
jobs in the sector.
Goodcompany's purpose is to facilitate the involvement of young professionals in
philanthropy. The site includes a list of volunteering opportunities recommended by the
GoVolunteer is an initiative of Volunteering Australia and is intended to make it easier for
Australians to volunteer. The site includes a search facility for volunteers to find local
opportunities as well as information about the listed organisations and about volunteering in