Author: Kate Sunners
Choose your auspice wisely!
If you’re a small unincorporated organisation, you’ll sometimes need to ask an organisation with incorporated status or deductible gift recipient status (DGR1) to act as an auspicor when you apply for grant funding. This can be a fantastic relationship with benefits for both sides, but without careful planning and research it can end up being difficult to manage for both parties.
Not sure what an auspice is? The Not -for-profit Law Information Hub provided by Justice Connect has this to say:
“When using an auspice arrangement, the relationship is often described as one where the auspicee will be carrying out the project ‘under the auspices of’ the incorporated organisation – the auspicor. The auspicor receives funding or enters into relevant agreements for the auspicee…An auspice agreement is a legally binding contract.”
And with any legally binding contract, it’s essential you research and plan ahead before entering into it. You might need to make contact with several prospective auspicors before you find the right fit!
Like funding partnerships, auspicing partnerships are about relationships, and the criteria for choosing an auspicing body is a bit like choosing a friend. You need to know that the organisation auspicing you will be a nurturing partner, that you think alike, that the relationship is based on trust (in both camps), and that neither of you will throw each other under the bus!
Like any good friendship, auspicing is also about effective communication. If you meet with your auspicing body and think you might be struggling to communicate, or that you might be operating under completely different ideas about how a project should be run, or the way in which a social problem should be addressed – beware! You are probably going to face a bumpy ride!
Things you need to think about before entering into an auspicing agreement (remembering it’s legally binding):
– Are your timeframes and milestones feasible and do you have an agreed plan for implementation of your activities/project?
– Do you feel the auspicing body is aligned with your organisation’s mission, values and the way you do things?
– Have you discussed and documented what level of input/responsibility is in place for each partner regarding project implementation and outcomes? Remember that funders will expect to see you have a Memorandum of Understanding already written up.
– What are the expectations of each party in terms of benefits/protections, and responsibilities for funder reporting? This is particularly important when it comes to grant funding. Think about who will keep in touch with the funder throughout the funding period, not just about who will write up the final report.
– Do you have good relationships and channels of communication?
– What are the requirements of the auspicing body in terms of project communication and milestone reporting and other administration, and does your organisation have the resources to meet them?
– What procedures are in place if the project does not go to plan or exceeds budget?
– Do you have dispute resolution procedures in place?
– Do you fully understand your organisation’s commitments in an auspicing agreement?
– Can you speak to any other organisations who have had experience using this organisation as an auspicor in the past to get an understanding of the success of past relationships?
There’s plenty more to consider if you’re thinking about an auspicing body, and we recommend you check out these excellent free resources for more detailed information:
NFP Law Information Hub’s guides and checklists for Auspicing – https://www.nfplaw.org.au/auspicing
Case study and Guide to Auspicing Agreements at http://www.ourcommunity.com.au/files/aigm/ParramattaCouncilGuideToAuspiceAgreement.pdf