The challenge

Blind Low Vision NZ empowers New Zealanders who are blind, deafblind or have low vision to live the life they choose. Every day, an average of seven New Zealanders turn to Blind Low Vision NZ for support with sight loss. Blind Low Vision NZ is there to provide practical and emotional support, to advocate for inclusive communities, and lead the way in vision rehabilitation. 

Blind Low Vision NZ first approached Strategic Grants in 2014 for assistance in reviewing the organisation’s strategy to grant-seeking to achieve a greater success rate. 

Their Trusts and Foundations team were looking for ways to plan ahead, keep up to date with new funding opportunities and track the progress and success of their grants in one central place. 

Blind Low Vision NZ. A mum and daughter in the kitchen chopping food. A young child looks on.

Our solution

A well-planned grants strategy focuses not on the number of grants an organisation should apply for, but on identifying the right grants to apply for. 

Identifying funding opportunities that clearly aligned with their activities and strategic goals was important to the Blind Low Vision NZ Trusts and Foundations team. Freeing up time and energy that was otherwise spent on researching and applying for grants that weren’t necessarily the right fit was a key priority for them! 

We proposed: 

A customised grants calendar (Grants Expertise Management System - GEMS) to easily identify grant opportunities relevant to Blind Low Vision NZ’s wish list of projects needing funding. 

We were also pleased to provide feedback and coaching, through our advisory services, on grant applications that their Trusts and Foundations team had already prepared prior to them being submitted. This ensures that the entire team is across best-practice approaches when it comes to writing a high-quality application. Staff also attended grant-seeker workshops to learn the fundamentals of creating a grants strategy and how to write a great application. 

“We were able to easily identify funders with a focus on digital inclusion and secured over $250,000 in grants to get people set up with the technology in their homes.”

Pam, Senior Trusts and Grants Fundraiser, Blind Low Vision NZ.

Their impact

Several years since first subscribing to GEMS and the Blind Low Vision NZ team has not looked back. 

“Having a reliable way to track upcoming grants through GEMS has enabled us to plan ahead, not miss any funding round changes and keep up with new opportunities,” said Pam Baillie, Senior Trusts and Grants Fundraiser, Blind Low Vision NZ. 

“We’ve been able to focus our grant-writing time on the funders that are most aligned with our purpose and activities.” 

The team has secured a substantial amount of grant funding for some key projects, including retiring their widely used CD collection of talking books and moving completely to an online platform that is easily accessible to their clients. 

 “In the last few years, we have developed new technologies enabling us to move away from delivering CD’s of talking books to library members,” said Pam. 

“Retiring CDs was a huge project but we were able to easily identify funders with a focus on digital inclusion and secured over $250,000 in grants to get people set up with the technology in their homes. 

“They not only have their library books streamed directly to them but now have access to all that the internet has to offer.” 

Blind Low Vision NZ. Two people sitting at a table, looking at an electronic device. One person is elderly.