Top 10 tips for writing a winning Sustainable Communities Fund application

1 May 2013

1. Discuss your project/program idea with the Community Fund Coordinator
• Pacific Hydro’s Community Fund Coordinator, Chloe is always happy to talk about your application. So give her a call and talk it through. This is an easy way to confirm your project fits the Fund guidelines and fits with Pacific Hydro’s values;
• Contact Chloe on 03 8621 6428 or community@pacifichydro.com.au or;

2. Attend the application workshops
• Application workshops are held in each community to assist community groups with their application;
• It’s free to attend and it’s a great way to get tips on completing your application and advice about your project;
• Application workshops are held in the first week after applications open in your area. Check your local paper or contact Chloe for the details.

3. Read the Fund guidelines and each question in the application form carefully
• Applications that don’t fit within the Fund guidelines will not be successful in winning funding, so it’s best to read the guidelines thoroughly before putting time and effort into your application;
• Remember, the reason for all the questions in the application is to determine how high a priority this project/program is for your members and your community;
• The Fund Allocation Panel needs a response to every question in order to make an informed decision about your application. Don’t leave any questions out!

4. Think about the values of Pacific Hydro and the Fund aims and how your project meets them
• Think about the different projects your group needs funding for and work out which grant maker would be best suited to fund that particular project. (Local council, State Government, other philanthropic trusts);
• Pacific Hydro's values naturally lead it to environmentally and socially sustainable projects. This also means we shy away from funding projects which may have a negative environmental or social outcome - such as energy intensive reverse-cycle air conditioners or sponsoring activities like motorsports which increase carbon pollution;
• Think about all the items or program requirements that you need. Is there one part of this which best fits with Pacific Hydro’s values? If you’re not sure, speak with the Community Fund Coordinator for advice.

5. What other sources of funding are out there?
• Have you applied for other sources of funding? By applying to other sources of funding you are demonstrating that the project is a high priority for your group;
• Are there funding sources that are better suited for your project – for example computer equipment can often be purchased through Federal Government Volunteer Grants and sporting equipment can often be sourced through State Government grants etc.;
• Pacific Hydro aims to fill funding gaps and support projects that may not be able to access other grants.

6. Start writing your application as soon as the Fund opens
• This allows plenty of time to get quotes and letters of support;
• If we have your contact details we’ll notify you as soon as the Fund opens. This way you can get started on your application straight away;
• By starting early, you can submit a draft application to the Community Fund Coordinator for review.

7. Collaborate!
• Look at who else is providing a similar service or what groups have similar needs to yours. Many times it’s not necessary for each group to have their own lawnmower or computer equipment etc.;
• Think about ways you can share the resources you have with other groups and vice-versa;
• By applying for a project that will benefit multiple groups, you are more likely to receive funding. It also shows that the Sustainable Communities Fund is funding high priority projects.

8. Demonstrate the need
• Did you just think of a project because the Fund is open or have you really sat down and thought about what items or programs will have the biggest benefit to your group’s members and the broader community?
• Have you spoken to all members in your group?
• Have you spoken to people in the broader community? Gaining strong community support for your project will strengthen your application.

9. Don’t forget your attachments
• Make sure you supply 1-2 quotes (preferably from local suppliers);
• Make sure you attach two letters of support from people who will benefit from the project/program. They do not have to be letters from Council or local MP’s;
• If you are applying for an event, make sure you attach a detailed budget.

10. Use the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Sweetheart!
• Clearly and concisely articulating the details of your project will ensure everyone who reads your application understands what you are aiming to do and why. It will also save you time!
• The process you go through to be able to briefly and clearly explain your project will also help you to be clear on the aims of your project. This will strengthen your application in the long run.

And if you’re still not successful, don’t be disheartened!
• If your group’s applications haven’t been successful in previous years, remember that the Fund is around for the operating life of the wind farm and that we always receive more applications than we can fund. It doesn’t mean your project isn’t worthwhile!
• Talk to the Community Fund Coordinator and keep at it, eventually you are bound to be successful;
• Use any feedback you receive to help make your next application stronger;
• Consider applying to sit on the Fund Allocation Panel. Sitting on the Panel will provide you with an opportunity to review all applications and gain and overarching view of what projects are being proposed and getting through to the short-list. This may help with your application in the future.

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