Government funding programs are spending our tax dollars on community programs. That means they need to ensure projects deliver the maximum possible public-good outcomes. And one of the ways they do that is to ensure the projects they fund are genuinely supported by the communities they’re supposed to be delivering outcomes for.
It’s hard to fake genuine community support and collaborative partnerships and it takes a long time to grow these partnerships.
You can’t really develop a relationship with a new organisation in the moments before submitting a funding application.
It’s hard to fake that stuff and it takes time.
When it comes to collaboration, you should consider who needs to be involved in your project very early in the planning process. I mean, if your project is genuinely meeting a community need, it will be obvious from the start who needs to be engaged.
Sometimes you’ll need to involve people for regulatory reasons or because you need approvals or permits. Sometimes your funding body will stipulate that you must engage the Traditional Owners of the land on which you’re working. Sometimes you’ll need letters of support and sometimes partners will need to provide actual cash. I can’t stress this enough. Building these relationships takes time and effort.
Don’t leave partnerships until the last minute.
Getting your partnership development and engagement processes right saves a lot of heartache (and hard work) later. Have you asked the right people to be involved? Have you advised people about what you’re doing? Are there people who could make your job easier?
When it comes to potential partners, the following:
- People or organisations who are benefiting from your project.
- People with information, expertise or knowledge related to your project.
- Organisations undertaking similar work.
- People who will be upset or detract from your project if they’re not involved.
- Those whose approval you need (for example, local authorities who need to give you permission to carry out works on public land
- Traditional Owners
- Those who will be impacted upon by your actions. For example, neighbours.
Developing partnerships takes more time than any other aspect of your project. You cannot afford to get it wrong. And it’s obvious to funding assessors when you’ve made little effort in this area. It’s much easier to ask for letters of support or in-kind contributions when people have already been engaged in developing a project.
Given that most government funds must demonstrate a broad public benefit before approving grants, it’s important that you have broad public support. Getting your engagement processes right and having good community support will increase your chances of funding success.