Grant strategies to build nonprofit capacity

Alicia3 Author: Alicia Edwards

The Generosity Forum 2020 presented by F&P (Fundraising and Philanthropy) went virtual and was held on Tuesday 5th May. From the comfort of our home offices, I joined many other delegates who gathered virtually to learn more, be inspired and come away with confirmation that we are doing things well, or a resolution that we will change status quo and work harder to makes things better.

Upon reflection, I am prouder than ever to be working in an incredibly rewarding philanthropic sector.

Key discussion points from two sessions

In the first session I attended, The philanthropic imperative to address climate issues, panellists Hayley Morris, Executive Director, Morris Family Foundation & Morris Group Holdings and David Ritter, CEO, Greenpeace Australia Pacific discussed the critical importance of increasing the philanthropic contribution to tackling global warming and prioritising root causes of the climate emergency through advocacy.

Morris Family Foundation place great emphasis on investing in the people leading and running non-profit organisations. And whilst they don’t request pitches, the Foundation asks each contact to meet the family. Advice from David Ritter on this matter, was to prepare to be vulnerable in your pitches and discussion with funders. Pats Blog image

As a grant-maker, Hayley Morris clearly demonstrated true engagement and thorough knowledge of the programs that her family foundation support. Morris has a deep understanding for the specific projects and services being delivered by the grantees and there is a strong reciprocal relationship between organisations like Greenpeace and Morris Family Foundation that has been built over many years.

The second session, Guide Dogs Victoria – the power of philanthropy to leverage government support was yet another brilliant forum. Delegates heard from Karen Hayes, CEO of Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) and a stellar panel of funders including Vedran Drakulic, Gandel Philanthropy, Alberto Furlan, Senior Program Manager, The Ian Potter Foundation and Paul Wheelton, Wheelton Philanthropy.

When GDV set out to raise over $23 million for an innovative new sensory campus, it knew it would need to secure significant philanthropic and government support. The ‘world-first’ sensory campus, which includes new social enterprises to provide ongoing revenue, excited and attracted the likes of Gandel Philanthropy, The Ian Potter Foundation and Wheelton Philanthropy.

This forum did not disappoint and was in fact, as the conference description said, an excellent case study with learnings on philanthropic collaboration, how to approach government, and the power of a big idea.

Grant-seekers take note!

Paul Wheelton at Wheelton Philanthropy commented on what stood out for this successfully funded capital project. GDV’s different revenue streams now place this non-profit organisation in a sustainable long-term position with social enterprises such as a café, specialist rooms for rent and a veterinary clinic to diversify its revenue streams.  More NFP’s need to be more innovative and start up income sources like GDV has to remain viable and attractive to Government and other private funders.

The Ian Potter Foundation was also invited to be involved with GDV’s project.  Whilst they have been granting to the organisation for about 20 years (take note of a great funder relationship!), it was the vision and presentation from the CEO that attracted The Ian Potter Foundation to get on board.

Alberto Furlan (The Ian Potter Senior Program Manager) shared key suggestions on how to pitch a submission to a foundation like The Ian Potter Foundation. The 3 key things in a 10-minute pitch include:

  1. The why and the need for your project. Why will this project help you to make the next step in the service delivery of your organisation?
  2. Clearly articulate the capacity to deliver the project. That goes for all elements of the organisation. Be really clear you can deliver.
  3. The delivery of the presentation. Needs to be clear, concise and have heart. Show your certainty that with funding, your organisation can deliver.CaseforSupportBlog Image1


The Generosity Forum reiterated that we not only have incredibly generous philanthropic funders in Australia and New Zealand, but more so, they are approachable, supportive and are here to work in partnership to make this world a far better place. 

* It is important to be humble in your pitches to Funders. They need to know the leaders of for-purpose, charitable organisations are invested for the right reasons. Present with a balance of heart and head.

* Sustainability is a must. What innovative programs are you planning on delivering to diversify your funding streams over the longer term?

* Have you got funding secured from other philanthropists or government?

* Funders talk. Don’t underestimate connections. Ask your first funding source if they can introduce your project to other funding bodies.

* A long fundraising journey is never going to be easy. But have patience, be strategic and never underestimate your relationships. Pick up the phone and build your relationships today.

To sum it all up, this year’s Generosity Forum really confirmed what we, at SG know are the absolute must do’s to fulfil your mission and make an impact. If you haven’t already, please read our other Blog, The Must do’s for 2020 Grants Success



Alissa Author: Alissa Bermingham

We work with a number of community organisations doing amazing work in their community. One of our GEM Local subscribers, Pound Paws, has been using the system for just under one year so we asked the founder, Brittany Bloomer, what she thinks of GEM Local.

Tell us a little bit about Pound Paws
Pound Paws is an Australian charity which provides a modern approach to the overall re-homing process of pets in Australian pounds and rescue centres. We operate an online search engine, which allows users to search for their dream pet by breed, age, sex, location & lifestyle match. We also host dog adoption events around Australia, to further raise awareness about pet adoption to different communities. It is our mission to educate the Australian public about the importance of pet adoption, whilst raising awareness in a fun and engaging manner.

How did you find out about GEM Local, and what made you decide to sign up?

I came across GEM Local, via ConnectingUp, a great platform which provides aid to NFP / Charities. As Pound Paws hosts frequent community events, we rely on funding via grants.

Can you tell us a bit about Pound Paws’ grant-seeking process before you implemented GEM Local? How were you tracking grant opportunities?
I struggled to find grants online to be honest, I would either be forwarded emails from friends, or see them pop up on ads. As a result, I wasn’t frequently applying for them, as it took me a lot of time researching to find them.

How has using GEM Local changed your grant-seeking process?
GEM Local has made the grant-seeking process very convenient for Pound Paws. We are able to search grants by different fields, such as animal welfare, organisational capacity, community events, geographic location, education and much more.

What’s your favourite part about using the system?
How simple it has made searching for grants that match us! It also has a great data storing section, where you can keep track of all the grants you have applied for.

Final comments – any other thoughts or reflections that you have about the system that you might like to share with organisations who are considering a subscription?
I would highly recommend getting involved, there are a lot of great grants out there that can further support your mission!

You can also have a lot of fun with it, for example; I applied for a grant with Awesome Newcastle, which required me to drive up to Newcastle (N.S.W Australia) and pitch about Pound Paws events to a panel of judges. One of the judges was Chris Joannou (Silver Chair Bass Guitarist). A really unique experience and great networking opportunity!

I ended up winning the grant on the night, which is su-paw exciting too! PoundPawsImage2

GEM Local is designed for community groups that raise under $1 Million per year – it’s an incredible tool find the grants that are relevant to your organisation based on where you operate, what your organisation does and what the legal status is.

Check out the SG website for full details on GEM Local.