How to win grants for your not-for-profit during the pandemic

With 160 grant rounds aimed at mitigating the effects of COVID-19 now listed on the Funding Centre grants database, there are funding opportunities available for not-for-profits that know where to look.

Stef Ball
Article author: Stef Ball, Manager, Funding Centre

Analysis by the Funding Centre, an Our Community enterprise and Australia’s most comprehensive grants database, reveals that about half of all pandemic-specific grants on the database are aimed at not-for-profits or charities.

The listings show that the largest proportion (50%) of the pandemic-related grants available to not-for-profits or charities range from $1,000 to $5,000. Just over a quarter (27%) provide “up to $10,000”, while grants of smaller amounts from $50 to $880 make up 9% of the funding pie.

In tracking down the grants out there, Funding Centre staff have noticed a switch in funding away from project-based programs.

Instead, funds are increasingly available for:

  • operational expenses such as rent assistance
  • shortfalls in income
  • equipment, especially technical equipment
  • assistance with meeting new governance requirements.

Buzzwords that are popular with grantmakers dealing with COVID-19 include “building resilience,” “cohesion”, “connectedness” and “mental health initiatives”.

If you’re keen to win a grant, we suggest mentioning those words in your application – and besides, as a not-for-profit, you’re there to build resilience, cohesion and connectedness in your community anyway.

How funders are changing their approach

An examination of the funding available to not-for-profits reveals some of the ways funders have modified their approach to grantmaking in response to the pandemic.

The Australia Council for the Arts, for example, redirected more than $5 million in funding from existing programs to establish a Resilience Fund (now closed) to provide emergency relief. (The Fund is now closed).

The Ian Potter Foundation will consider grant applications by invitation only for the remainder of 2020.

Equity Trustees is checking in with grant recipients to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their projects, and taking a flexible approach to funding, activities and milestones.

The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) has introduced a Grant Variations Policy to help keep funds flowing to affected grantees.

The Community Broadcasting Foundation established a COVID-19 taskforce and applied a blanket six-month extension on reporting. (Its COVID-19 Crisis Grants have now closed)

Anecdotal reports suggest that the local government sector – traditionally a big supporter of community groups and not-for-profits – is offering more and bigger grants than before in response to the pandemic. It’s worth checking what support measures are being offered by your local authority.

Councils are also wanting to find the best ways to support their communities. The City of Whittlesea in Victoria, for example, placed all current programs on hold and invited community members to provide input and feedback about how the City can best support the community.

Keep watch for more grants, diversify your funding

The Funding Centre continues to monitor all COVID-19 related funds and hosts the latest support for not-for-profits on its COVID-19 financial assistance page.

Relying on grants is risky at the best of times, and this is not one of those times. The Funding Centre has always advised not-for-profits to ensure they have a diversity of income sources, as outlined in our help sheet The Seven Pillars of Fundraising.

For more on this, including tips on fundraising during COVID-19, check out a recording of our webinar Diversify your fundraising with the 7 pillars – it’s free!


Save Our Sector (SOS): a library of capacity building resources to help your organisation stay afloat through COVID-19
NFP GRANTS : COVID-19 financial assistance page
FREE TRIAL: Access the full Funding Centre database for 14 days

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