Local government grantmakers need to be positive, persuasive and resourceful to bolster the reserve available for community funding. They need to prove the benefits of their programs and they need to be creative about finding funds.
Understand the context
- Recognise when there is more competition for limited resources.
- Read and interpret subtle policy shifts and socio-demographic trends.
- Learn to speak the language of federal and state government grantmakers.
- Ensure funding submissions clearly incorporate current government policy and program directions.
Look beyond the rate base
- Look beyond the council rate base and fees and charges for funding.
- Initiate partnership programs with key community groups and service clubs (Lions, Rotary, Probus, U3A etc).
- Be genuinely prepared to devolve to external organisations responsibility, resources and support for programs and services - they may be more cost efficient, more flexible and more creative.
- Be prepared to do things differently to achieve required outcomes - commit to genuine community consultation and engagement activities.
- Question the use of external consultants - look at developing in-house or community expertise instead.
Encourage internal buy-in
- Recognise the leadership role that needs to be played by the CEO and senior management - not just by the Director of Community Services - to champion the community development cause.
- Don't just preach to the converted; get the cynics on board, including those who work in finance and asset management.
- Have the CFO champion and sign off on the finances for key community development initiatives.
- Involve key decision-makers (senior management, councillors) in strategy and program development initiatives, and in celebrations.
- Regularly remind technical colleagues that the majority of council building infrastructure exists solely for community service provision.
Encourage external buy-in
- Design program guidelines, criteria, reporting and accountability mechanisms that are not onerous but ensure rigour, efficiency and effectiveness in outputs and accountability outcomes for ratepayer dollars.
- Use the media to spread good news stories.
Collect the evidence
- Understand and explain the multiplier effect of local government community grants - $1 can multiply five times.
- Use empirical data.
Speak the right language
- Speak in a language that engages councilors, senior management and key decision-makers, including the CFO and assets and infrastructure managers who may want to suppress or compete for funds.
- Translate from abstract, theoretical concepts into concrete, direct language. Provide objective information on the monitoring of results and outcomes.
- Talk about cost efficiency, return on investment, better long-term financial outcomes and financial sustainability.