Government Grants and Assistance
Grants and other funding programs are available from the Australian, state and territory governments and in some cases from local councils.

Australian Business Funding Centre
Need money to finance your small business in Australia? Want to get a grant, a loan or financial aid for new equipment, fixtures, renovations, training and advertising or to hire staff? See examples of grants and loans recipients from your state here.

GrantSearch
GrantSearch is Australia’s original and most comprehensive funding database, detailing $8billion distributed to 18,000 recipients every year.

Philanthropy Australia
Philanthropy Australia is the national peak body for philanthropy and is a not-for-profit membership organisation. Our Members are trusts and foundations, families and individuals who want to make a difference through their own philanthropy and to encourage others to become philanthropists.

Grant Ready
You can get a free subscription to Grant Finder for Not for Profits here and this site is also a good source for business grants. We are a national company, based in Victoria, and have worked with hundreds of organisations around Australia to find and apply for suitable grants. In the past 12 months alone, our team has directly helped access over $260 million in grants and rebates. Over the past five years that figure has exceeded $293 million.

Busigrants
A source of business Grant information. Our Community produces the popular and effective Easy Grants newsletter, which details Federal and State Government, philanthropic and corporate grants for community groups

 

Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a relatively new way to source funds in Australia. The concept is that you are pledged money by members of the community to get your project up and running or funded for further growth. Here are a few of the Australian crowdfunding sites currently available.
We are an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe. Created in the long hot summer days of 2009 in Boston, the Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants to projects and their creators. The money is pooled together from the coffers of ten or so self-organizing “micro-trustees” and given upfront in cash, check, or gold doubloons. The chapters are autonomous and organized by the trustees around geographic areas or topics of interest.

Pozible

What is Pozible?
Pozible is a crowdfunding platform and community for creative projects and ideas. Developed for artists, musicians , filmmakers, journalists, designers, social change makers, entrepreneurs, inventors, event organisers, software developers and all creative minded people to raise funds, realise their aspirations and make great things possible.

How does Pozible work?
Pozible provides project creators with a platform to present their ideas to a worldwide audience. If anyone likes the idea, they can support it by pledging money to the creator’s project. In return for support, the project creators will offer rewards depending on the level of funding; essentially differentiating itself from the normal funding process.

Who is the Pozible team?
The Pozible team is made up of four energetic, tech-savvy, eccentric team members, situated in both Sydney and Melbourne.

iPledg

iPledg is a crowd funding platform focused on commercial, creative, community & charitable projects.

 

Before you rush out to get a grant, consider the following requirements:

* Time. This isn’t really free money from the government – finding a grant, preparing the necessary documentation, meeting with the right government officials and then reporting on your progress all takes many hours.

* Professional help. You can have a go at applying for a government grant by yourself, but many experts (and many government departments) recommend getting help from a professional who is experienced in the grants process. There are hundreds of consultants specialising in government grants, but a good accountant and lawyer will also be important sources of advise.

* Money. If you’re going to get help from professionals, it’s going to cost you. Given this fact, it’s worth making sure it’s actually worth your time and money to get the grant you’re applying for.

Finding grants that can help your business:

There nothing more annoying than struggling along and suddenly learning that a colleague or competitor has just received a government grant. But actually finding which grants you are eligible for is not an easy task.

Here are some places to start:

* Government websites. Most governments now have a grant finder tool on their websites which allow a company to search through available grants, usually organised according to industry sectors. The Federal Government’ grant finder tool can be found here.

* Industry associations. Industry associations usually provide a fountain of knowledge about the grants available for your specific sector.

* Government bodies. The business advisers attached to Federal Government’s Enterprise Connect centres offer free business reviews to eligible businesses and will be able to point you towards appropriate grants.

* Grant consultants. These experts know the ins and outs of the grants world and should be able to pinpoint the best grants for you. Of course, this service will cost you.

When to seek professional help

The process of applying for some government grants can be so complex that many companies seek professional help, either from an accountant, lawyer or business adviser, or from a specialist grant consultant, who will prepare your application, meet with the right government officials and generally make sure you get your money. Indeed, most grant consultants operate on a success fee, typically 5-10% of the grant value.

But it can be worth it. Katrina Gerhardt, a grant consultant with Brisbane firm Campbell Stewart, cites Austrade data that show consultant-prepared applications for the Export Market Development Grant obtain grants 15-20% higher than self-prepared applications.

Application tips and traps

If you decide to tackle the grants process yourself, here are some tips from grant consultants on how to get the best result:

  • Make sure you’re eligible. Sounds obvious, but Ross Turetsky says experience tells him around 10% of grant submissions get knocked back purely because they are ineligible. “Companies get excited and apply, but they don’t actually read all the criteria.” A common mistake is that companies believe they are eligible for a grant because they work in a particular industry or area, but don’t realise that the specific project for which they seek funding is ineligible. Don’t give the grant assessors a simple reason to deny your application!
  • Give yourself time. Several grant consultants said companies often underestimate the amount of time and effort it takes to prepare a grant. While each grant is different, Peter Nolle from grants consultancy Treadstone says companies should set aside three to four weeks (that’s with one person working on the application full-time) for one of the big, competitive grants.
  • Use the correct application forms. Another tip that sounds obvious, but Ross Turetsky says many of the online forms provided by government departments are a nightmare – very difficult to use, not compatible with spelling and grammar checking and generally unwieldy. But while it’s tempting to prepare your own forms, don’t do it – it just makes it harder for the assessors if it’s in a non-standard form. “Do the whole application process in Word, use spell check and grammar check and then cut and paste,” Turetsky suggests.
  • Make sure you understand the objectives of the grant and the legislation supporting it. Bruce Patten says some bureaucrats who assess grants can unfortunately take a bit of a policing attitude to applications – looking for what’s wrong, rather than all the things that are right about a company’s application. As such, companies need to be very careful about the wording of their grant. “By using the wrong word, they can shoot themselves in the foot.” If you’ve decided to have a go at the grant yourself, consider getting a consultant to at least go through it before you press send.
  • Make yourself stand out by establishing your credibility. In a competitive grants process, it’s essential to differentiate yourself from your rivals and Turetsky and Nolle agree that the best way to do this is to establish your credibility and minimise the risk for the assessors. Turetsky likes to picture the relevant minister standing up in Parliament and defending your grant application – you want to give that minister as much help as possible. Nolle says things that can help establish your credibility include endorsements from customers and industry groups, information about previous grants you’ve won and financial data. Another thing assessors like to see is a board of advisers, or at least proof that your management team has different types of experience.
  • Make sure your funding sources are sorted out. Many grants involve funding 50% of the costs of a project. Nolle says it’s crucial to have your other funding source sorted out well in advance.
  • Ensure your record keeping systems are robust. Many grants, including the Export Market Development Grant, require proof of money spent, so make sure you keep all receipts, invoices and other documentation to support your application.
  • Demonstrate commercial understanding. This is a particular tip for companies applying for R&D grants, who might have a great piece of technology but a weak plan for actually commercialising that technology. “Where innovation is concerned, there are usually few competitors because you are going into a new area. But there will be substitutes, and many businesses fail to see that,” Nolle says.
  • If in doubt, ask questions. If you are having trouble with any part of your obligation, get on the phone and ask questions of the grants project leader. This is another area where having a grant consultant – someone who knows the right person to approach – can be beneficial. “As a consultant I feel that you need to know a grant inside out, reading all the guidelines and talking with the people who are part of the project team,” Turetsky says. “As much contact time as you can get, the better.”

After you’ve won the grant

Once you’ve celebrated your grant win, there are still a few obligations you’ll need to meet, primarily involving the reporting of key milestones. You’ll need to ensure your record keeping and reporting systems are working well, but as Bruce Patten points out, this won’t be a problem for most good businesses.

An excerpt from an article first appearing on SmartCompany.com.au, Australia’s premier site for business news, forums and blogs.