You would expect that the Grantmaker of the Year would have a good handle on what makes a good grantmaker, and you would be right.
Asked what they would change about grantmaking in Australia, the NSW Heritage Grants Team said they would boost recognition of the profession and the value of its contribution. They nominated a "diverse skill set" that all good grantmakers should attain:
Bundjalung artist Bronwyn Bancroft was commissioned to produce this work as part of a NSW Living History program employing the theme "heritage" and drawing on ideas of travel, invention, water, land, food and art to represent her country.
This combination of attributes, they say, is the route to "transparency, equity and accountability in grantmaking", as well as better outcomes.
And so how should one approach these aims? Well, the team have compiled these useful pointers.
Consider what you are trying to achieve and what strategies and grant mechanisms will help achieve that aim. Understand your stakeholder groups, their agenda and needs, the level of funding, the timeframe for delivery, and available resourcing, and establish a risk register. This needs to happen well before a grant program is established.
Procedures, processes, templates and governance structures that are fair and transparent and ensure accountability are essential. Good governance and probity require:
A sound communications strategy that ensures all potential applicants receive the relevant information during program promotion - in a format that meets their needs - is essential to ensure program equity.
Communicating the right information to applicants in a way they understand during a project can help that project succeed, while helping applicants overcome problems.
Grantmakers should also make sure they get the right information from grantees when it comes to monitoring, evaluation and acquittals.
Members of the NSW Heritage Grants Team L-R Nicole Guyatt, Rosanna Luca, Rukmani Balram and Jan Nye.
Financial management skills are essential. You need to understand your grantees' cashflow requirements, and adjust milestones to meet project needs, while ensuring your organisation's budget needs are met, and financial delegations are adhered to.
This requires an understanding of GST, tax implications, financial management systems and appropriate recording of financial information, to meet reporting requirements and budget management.
Analysing anomalies, finding appropriate solutions to problems that arise, and communicating the outcome to those affected will help to maintain accountability and consistency.
Limitations on resources often mean grantmaking outcomes aren't appropriately acknowledged. Taking time to report on and promote outcomes will help ensure that the hard work of grantees and grantmakers alike is noticed and celebrated.
Truly reflective evaluations have the greatest value for improving grantmaking. They require skills in developing evaluation and audit briefs, providing input to these processes, and reviewing survey questions and the results.
What can you learn from the 2019 Grantmaker of the Year winners?
Port Phillip Community Group executive officer Karen Sait has sat on both sides of the table when it comes to grants, so she understands what it takes for funders to make things easier for recipients. The simple answer? Good partnerships.
The Ian Potter Foundation is building a strong reputation for its laser-like focus on evaluation and its benefits, and leading the charge is Dr Squirrel Main.
The City of Onkaparinga is using new methods to boost community engagement and grants impact. Here's how.