Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Shining a light on our data process

Cathy Melbourne

 

Author: Cathy Kirwan

 

We often get asked if we have access to secret grants nobody else knows about. As much as we would love to say that we do (because it makes us sound like FBI operatives), all the grants that are in our system are publicly accessible. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are easy to find!  

To demystify the shroud of X-Files-level mystery around our database and how we find all the information on all the grants that go into it, we thought we’d provide you with a bit of an overview of our process.  

The first mystery we can myth-bust is Private Ancilliary Funds (PAFS). While many PAFs prefer to remain private and do not have open grant rounds, we do have all of them listed in our database based on information from the Australian Nonprofit and Charities Commission (ACNC) which is publicly available.  This data is also supplemented with our own desktop research and relationship with funders.

We have a team of specialist grants researchers who are in our database daily, updating and checking the existing grants in our database, and also searching the web for newly created grants and grant rounds. We’re constantly entering new information about what funders have granted to in the past and what their areas of interest might be, as well as alerting our subscribers to any changes in trustees, interests, geographic regions of granting, increases or decreases in granting amounts, or changes to eligibility.  

We have google alerts set up for all things grants and funding, and we are subscribed to every Government tendering site, council email alert list and philanthropic funder’s email newsletter we can find. We follow many funders’ social media accounts and we’re in regular contact via email with many funders.  

Funders themselves often come to us with updates of their information, as we’ve built strong relationships with many of them over the years, and we also catch up with them regularly at industry events held by Philanthropy Australia and Philanthropy New Zealand (so while we might not have a secret cache of grants, we do have great insight into funders motivations and interests!). We also work with many funders, to provide training and support to their applicants. 

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Sometimes we also work with other partner consultancies to ensure our data is as up to date and comprehensive as possible!  

In terms of our categorising of grants, the system has been built in line with categories used by Philanthropy Australia and The Foundation Centre’s Foundation Directory Online, in order to provide a consistent and uniform approach to categorisation in line with other key information providers. 

My job as Research Manager is to coordinate all of our grants research, keep the data clean (dirty data is the bane of everyone’s existence after all), and identify any big research projects we need to work on. I dream data!  

Of course, excellent data is such a hugely important part of what we provide to nonprofits subscribed to our Grants Expertise Management Systems (GEMS), GEM Portal and GEM Local. While we don’t have any secret squirrel grants you can be assured that your customised grants calendar, kept up to date by GEMS, will save you hundreds of hours of research time searching for relevant grants, by showing you just the grants that are relevant to your work, legal eligibility and geographic reach! And even our most experienced and well-researched subscribers are always surprised at the number of new grants that GEMS find for them, when they move from their old internal research system to embracing our Research Team doing all the hard work for them.