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OVERVIEW: Setting eligibility and assessment criteria

How will you decide who will be eligible to apply for your grants, and who will actually receive them? This will be determined largely by the goals of your program.

There are many great projects and organisations out there, but how many of them are positioned to deliver specifically what you want? Selecting the right organisations and projects to fund is key to the success of your program.

So what criteria will you use to assess applications? What capacity, knowledge and capabilities do you expect of successful applicants?

Your eligibility and assessment criteria will flow from your goals and approach. You'll also need to consider these questions:

  • Who is eligible for funding? Who's ineligible? Are for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, social enterprises, government agencies or individuals eligible? Will you accept applications from individuals, from political or religious organisations, or unincorporated organisations? What about organisations that have failed to acquit a previous grant? Why? Why not? Is your policy defensible?
  • Do grant recipients need to be a legal entity (incorporated), hold insurance, or have an Australian Business Number?
  • Do grant recipients need to have certain capabilities? A demonstrated knowledge of the sector? Project management skills? Particular qualifications or experience?
  • Will you require grant recipients to involve or deliver to particular target groups, such as refugees, or women and girls, or gay youth?
  • Do your eligibility and assessment criteria comply with the law? For example, have you checked that they comply with anti-discrimination legislation?
  • Does your constitution or Trust deed prohibit funding individuals or other types of applicants?
  • What are your key selection criteria? How do they relate to the goals and objectives or your program? Why have you chosen these criteria?
  • What's the order of priority within the key selection criteria?
  • How will criteria be weighted?
  • Will applicants need to be ranked? What criteria will you use?

Related templates


  • Look around at what other funders are doing in the same 'space'. Is there anyone willing to share their program design, forms, assessment criteria, or even stories about what worked and what didn't? An easy way to find such an organisation is to ask some of your potential grant recipients who currently funds them. (While you're at it, ask them what's lacking in those other funders' aims or processes and see if you might be able to fill the gap or deliver something better.)
  • Don't automatically include or exclude certain types of applicants just because that's the way it's always been done, or because that's the way others do it. Think first of the outcomes you want to achieve, then work backwards to try to identify the types of organisations and individuals who can help you achieve those aims.
SmartyGrants Tip SmartyGrants users: Being very clear about your assessment process, eligibility and assessment criteria will also prepare you for your online assessment set-up in SmartyGrants, informing the creation of your external assessor guidelines, assessment forms and your tailored Help Guide for Assessors and Guidelines for Applicants. See the Assessment & Assessors area of the SmartyGrants help hub for more on this topic.