Charlotte Melbourne 

  Author: Charlotte Francis 


Our recent Melbourne Grant Seeker Workshop participants were fortunate to have star guest Vedran Drakulic OAM, CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, talk about his insights and experiences as a grant-maker.

While Vedran emphasised that all funders are different (“Once you’ve met one foundation, you’ve met one foundation”) his tips for our grant-seekers certainly reflected best practice and current trends in the sector.

Vedran’s first point was the importance of communication. He provided us with two contrasting examples:

1) A very large organisation (annual revenue over $10 million) received a $25,000 grant from Gandel. This organisation wrote a letter, hand-signed by their CEO and Chair, thanking Gandel Philanthropy as well as its founders John and Pauline Gandel. 

2) By contrast, a much smaller organisation (annual revenue of approximately $0.5 million) received a $40,000 grant from Gandel. To acknowledge this grant, this organisation sent a receipt to Gandel but no note, phone call or email to say thank you.  


Vedran explained that, from his perspective, good communication shows that you are interested in working in partnership with the funder. Vedran’s examples of good communication included:

·       saying thank you for the grant (however small) through a simple phone call, email or note

·       inviting your funder to visit the project site or special project events, and

·       staying in touch with the funder, over and above the minimum reporting requirements, including when project     challenges emerge.

 Once youve met one foundation youve met one foundation 002

Vedran went on to say that it is those organisations that communicate well and treat Gandel as partners that are more likely to receive funding in the future; whereas organisations that communicate poorly (who take the money and are not heard from again until the acquittal) create very little incentive for Gandel to support them in the future. In Vedran’s experience, only 10 to 15 per cent of organisations communicate really well.

One of the best ways to build a relationship with a funder and communicate well is by doing thorough research. Having an in-depth look at a funder’s website, looking not just at their guidelines and criteria but at what they have funded in the past is a good way to get a feel for the kinds of projects they support. Of course, funders also do their research on applicant organisations so make sure your website is up to date. You should also have copies of current and past annual reports on your website. Vedran, for example, when researching an organisation, looks not only at your website but at annual reports going back five years.

Strategic Grants runs Grant Seeker Workshops in all major cities throughout the year and, wherever possible, we invite a funder to join us for a Q and A session. If you are new to grants, need a grant-seeking refresher or have a new member of staff looking to upskill, our Grant Seeker Workshops will give you a complete A-Z of the process – from understanding the grants landscape and building the relationship with funders to writing and acquitting a grant. For more information go to: