Want a best-practice grants program? You’ll need the Grantmaking Toolkit

Posted on 13 Aug 2020

By Matthew Schulz

Grantmaking toolkit hero image Aug2020

Distributing grant funds effectively and efficiently – and achieving the desired outcomes for target groups – is what all grantmakers aim for. Yet there’s precious little guidance out there for Australian and New Zealand operators. Until now.

There are pointers from government watchdogs and auditors aimed at steering funders away from doing wrong, there are outdated guides that have faded from use, and there are some excellent resources from groups such as Philanthropy NZ and PEAK grantmaking in the United States.

But a locally appropriate, up-to-date, easy-to-follow guide, designed by experts, has been unavailable.

Enter the SmartyGrants Grantmaking Toolkit, brought to you by the team behind behind Australia’s most-used and best-loved grants administration system.

The 2020 Toolkit stands as the definitive guide to best-practice grantmaking.

Catering for grantmakers from all sectors, whether establishing a new program or reviewing an existing one, the Toolkit draws the many grantmaking tools and resources from the SmartyGrants “help hub” into a single PDF resource, alongside 24 templates users can adapt for themselves.

The Toolkit is provided free of charge to SmartyGrants users. It is also available for sale to any other grantmaker seeking to do better.

Grantmaking Toolkit
The Grantmaking Toolkit is available now for download.

Nine stages and 24 templates to guide grantmakers

The Toolkit covers key issues such as:

  • Policy and operational decisions
  • Identifying tasks, decisions and methods
  • Identifying (and avoiding) problems
  • Building a tailored grants manual
  • Expressing unique elements of different programs.

Its structure reflects the nine stages of administering grants programs:

  1. Plan and design
  2. Record keeping
  3. Identifying outcomes
  4. Assessment and decision-making
  5. Notification
  6. Agreements
  7. Monitoring
  8. Closing grants
  9. Evaluation
Grantmaking Lifestyle graphic
A snapshot of the Grantmaking Lifecycle which forms the core of the revised Grantmaking Toolkit

The 2020 Toolkit builds on the work of former senior Australian federal public servants Fiona Dempster and Barry Smith, who created the first edition of the toolkit in 2011. The latest edition has been revamped by another former Australian federal government public servant, Josh Presser, now SmartyGrants’ special projects manager.

Dempster Fiona
Fiona Dempster
Smith Barry2
Barry Smith
Presser Josh Mar2020
Joshua Presser

Mr Presser worked closely with senior SmartyGrants managers, trainers and staff to rework the resource and said its publication was timely.

“Grantmaking has recently been in the news for the wrong reasons,” Mr Presser said, referring to Australia’s contentious $100 million community sports grants scheme.

“Whether you’re designing a new grants program, or reviewing an existing one, the Toolkit, with its 24 policy templates, will step you through the process of designing and implementing a best-practice grants program that will help you maximise efficiency, effectiveness and accountability.

“The toolkit will help ensure that when you’re in the news, it’s for the right reasons.”

Kathy Richardson Pic by Ellen Smith
Kathy Richardson

Our Community executive director Kathy Richardson – who oversees the work of SmartyGrants – said the Toolkit emphasised the value of continuous improvement.

“The Toolkit has been revised and updated to incorporate the latest developments in best-practice grantmaking,” Ms Richardson said.

“This edition completes a gradual shift from a linear and somewhat compliance-driven concept of grantmaking to a cyclical, learning-oriented one. That is, it now more prominently reflects our conviction that each grant round should reflect the lessons learned from the previous round.”

While the Toolkit is available to all, she stressed that it had been “optimised for SmartyGrants, incorporating new tips to help grantmakers utilise the latest features at every stage of the grantmaking process”.

Ms Richardson said that in releasing the Toolkit to all grantmakers, Our Community aimed to share the knowledge SmartyGrants had garnered in more than a decade.

“Sharing intelligence about good grantmaking is part of the SmartyGrants DNA,” Ms Richardson said.

“It’s something distilled in our SmartyGrants Grantmaking Manifesto, behind our recent decision to make our Grants Management Intelligence newsletter free to all, and the motivation behind our Grantmaking in Australia conference, which is the only cross-sector grantmaking conference in the country.”

Are you a SmartyGrants user?

SmartyGrants users have access to this toolkit as part of their subscription. For over more than a decade, SmartyGrants has grown to be Australia's leading grants management platform for many reasons, including our commitment to sharing the lessons we've learned along the way.

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