Understand The Funder

The Funding Guidelines

Before you start to develop a proposal make sure you:

  • Carefully study the funding guidelines, application processes, and any other information which may be relevant to the funder
  • Scale and address your proposal to what is being requested/offered by the funder
  • Note evaluation criteria and any application deadlines and requirements (especially closing date and time, formatting and file size requirements, compulsory questions)
  • Understand the funder's goals and priorities.

Warning: It may be tempting not to read all the relevant documents if you:

  • Have extensive experience in writing funding applications
  • Have a long relationship with the funding body
  • Are overwhelmed by the amount of reading material.

Do not underestimate the importance of understanding the funding guidelines, application processes, and funder's objectives. The funding guidelines and processes, and the funder's objectives and criteria may have changed since you last applied for funding. Your application may be unsuccessful if you fail to:

  • Follow guidelines
  • Comply with requirements
  • Submit a proposal which aligns with the funding body's objectives. 

The Funding Body

Build a proactive and responsive relationship with the funding body. Contact them to:

  1. Clarify their expectations and outcomes
  2. Check whether you can append additional information to your application (e.g., information not requested but which will help to sell your organisation or concept) or can provide it at a later date
  3. Understand the assessment process
  4. Promote the unique aspects of your organisation.

To meet the funding body's objectives and priorities, investigate previously funded services and activities to:

  • Avoid duplication
  • Gain insight into programs favoured by the funding body.

Complying With Guidelines


Some funders provide a checklist to be completed prior to submission. Checklists help you:

  • Provide all the necessary information
  • Avoid omissions or errors.

If the funding body has not provided you with a checklist, develop your own (see Activity 6.1.1). 


Guidelines often tell you the final date and time for:

  • Contacting the funder to ask questions
  • Submitting your application.

Record the closing dates. If you use an electronic reminder system - set reminders.

Some funders set an EXACT TIME by which an application must be received. Make sure you know whether any regional time differences exist. 

Deadlines are a fact of life. Make sure you submit your application on time. There is NO FLEXIBILITY with this.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligibility criteria and compulsory compliance requirements must be adhered to. Some funding programs require you to submit essential supporting documentation (i.e., certificates of insurance, audits or financial reports, ABN numbers, annual reports). Collate and store these items in an accessible location so they are readily available (see Activity 2.5.1 in Organisational Compliance). 

To fulfil the funder's requirements you may also have to partner with another organisation (see Identifying Opportunities for Collaboration).


Highlight the questions you have to answer and underline key words or phrases.

TIPS: Understand the Funder

  • Read the information provided and contact the funder to clarify any matters you do not understand.
  • Demonstrate to the funder that you understand their priorities and have the expertise required to meet them and achieve community benefits.
  • Record deadlines and adhere to them. They are not flexible.
  • ​If funding applications contain check sheets, use these prior to submission.
  • If the funding application does not contain a checklist, develop one to ensure all essential items have been completed, formatting requirements are met, and additional information is attached.
  • If the application needs to be entered using an online application, register early and log into the online system. Becoming familiar with the requirements and nuances of the online system will make your submission process less stressful. 
  • If attachments need to be uploaded, check to ensure all items are attached in the correct format and meet any size limitations.
  • Make a file containing copies of core organisational information so it can be easily located when you complete your application.


Complete the activities below by en​tering text into the fields provided and/or completing the attached documents. If you download and complete an attached document, you will have to save this to your personal file.

You may also:

  • Export these answers: You may export your answers to the activities to a word document without saving to Your Funding Portfolio. Responses can then be saved in your personal files
  • Print this page: Users may print the page
  • Save and continue to next step: Users may save their responses to a secure server before continuing to another section of the resource. Users may then export and print all their saved responses from Your Funding Portfolio
  • Save progress: Users may save their responses as they work on the page.

Activity 6.1.1 Develop a Checklist

It is helpful to develop a checklist to record important matters and dates.

Answer the questions below and adapt the checklist provided to meet the funding guidelines and make sure you do not omit any key information or documents from your application.

*NB: Use this checklist as a guide as not all of these categories will be applicable to you and not all of this information will be asked for by all funding bodies. Only complete those sections that directly apply to you.

6.1.1.pdf (183 KB)

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Activity 6.1.2 Understand the Funder’s Objectives and Priorities

Many funding bodies will provide information about their objectives and priorities. Complete the questions below to identify which documents you need to read to understand the funder's objectives and priorities.

6.1.2.pdf (110 KB)

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Activity 6.1.3 How Can You Meet the Funder’s Objectives?

Brainstorm ways to meet the funder’s objectives. If you find it easier, mindmap your thoughts.

6.1.3.pdf (125 KB)

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