What makes a good small grant project?

Only four months into the financial year and we’ve already given away five small grants worth a total of $23,239. Each project is proof that you can do a lot with a little, and we’re looking forward to seeing the outcomes.

In the meantime though, our grants team is on the lookout for new projects to fund so we asked our Grants and Awards Manager Erin Dolan what she thinks makes a good small grant.

What is the small grants program?

It is for legal projects with a budget less than $5000. There is no opening or closing dates, so you can apply at any time and you’ll usually get an answer within two weeks. Such a quick turnaround is rare in the world of grants, but we’ve streamlined the process to make sure we can respond quickly to meet an immediate need. The application form is really easy to use and you can give me a call do chat about your project before you even start filling it out.

How could an organisation use a small grant?

Our small grants are perfect for organisations who need to act quickly, have an idea for a low-cost high-impact project, or who need money to scope a larger project. Obviously they must be legal projects that benefit Victorians, and they still also need to meet our grants criteria.

What type of projects have you funded with a small grant?

Our small grants have funded a huge variety of projects, such as DVDs, postcards, fact sheets, guides and special events. Organisations have also used our small grants to extend their research or implement important or unexpected recommendations.

We’ve featured a couple of great small grants on this blog already, including some really powerful videos by Youthlaw. But there are many more examples of small grant projects on our website.

Has a small grant ever led to a larger general grant?

Absolutely. Our small grants have definitely been used as ‘seed’ funding, which can help an organisation to decide if a project is worthwhile or has the right focus before they invest too much time and money or ask for a larger grant.

For example, St Kilda Legal Service was awarded seed funding from the foundation to find out the most effective methods of delivering legal information to street sex workers and the legal issues most relevant to this group. They used their findings to support an application for a larger project. In 2011/12, we awarded them $20,144 to implement a targeted education campaign informing street sex workers of their legal rights.

Is there any type of project you would like to fund but haven’t?

I really like big ideas that can start with just a small amount of seed funding. It would also be great to see some submissions for new technology grants such as for smart phone apps.

How should organisations apply?

Call me and have a chat about your project. I definitely prefer to speak to applicants about their projects before I receive an application. I can usually get an immediate feel for whether or not your project meets our criteria. And, if necessary, I can call on a member of our team to offer you specialised publishing, education, communication or plain language advice.

Visit our website for more information.

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