Westpac Foundation Offers A Grant-Maker’s Guide to Being Grant-Fit
6 August 2013 at 1:05 pm
Westpac Foundation supports Not for Profit (NFP) organisations by providing seed funding to social enterprises that are taking an innovative approach to addressing social problems in Australia. The Executive Officer of Westpac Foundation, Susan Bannigan offers her insider’s advice to groups seeking grants from investors. Bannigan says it is important to do the groundwork before expecting to receive seed funding to launch your social enterprise.
Westpac Foundation is looking to invest in organisations that have the potential to deliver meaningful social outcomes over the long-term.
“In practical terms, this means we take a life-stage approach," Bannigan said.
"We want to help start-ups explore and refine their great ideas in the early stages of development; we want to contribute seed funding to launch an enterprise; and we are looking to re-invest in enterprises that are delivering outcomes, and need assistance in their growth phase.”
The first step is to evolve the idea. Bannigan said she is approached regularly from organisations that have good ideas, but don’t have a solid business plan. “We will often advise applicants to undertake some further work to strengthen their mission and goals.”
Westpac Foundation calls this the Explore Phase, and is committed to helping young organisations get this right.
The Foundation offers access to development programs that connect start-ups with the right expertise and knowledge to test their idea.
Social Traders and the School for Social Entrepreneurs are two organisations funding programs that have Westpac Foundation’s backing.
“You should emerge from your Explore Phase with a fully-fledged business plan approved by your Board,” Bannigan said.
Once an organisation can demonstrate that it has developed a sustainable program that has the potential to deliver and measure social and financial outcomes in the future, they are then in a position to pitch for start-up funds.
As a grant-maker, Bannigan advises that she and her team are looking to invest in NFPs that have the following:
- a clearly identified social need to be addressed;
- a well-articulated mission and purpose;
- a business plan that is realistic and has been tested;
- good governance – a high calibre CEO and Board in place; and
- tools to measure and evaluate the program.
“Plus, we always visit potential grant recipients so the culture of the organisation is equally important,” she said.
Apart from giving dollars, many investors will be interested in developing a deeper relationship with grant recipients and may offer non-financial support. “This kind of assistance can be just as valuable to a start-up organisation as the grant,” Bannigan said.
Young organisations in the Foundation’s portfolio have described the immense benefit of participating in organisational mentoring, accessing the volunteer help of skilled staff from Westpac, or enrolling in financial education.
Bannigan agrees that Westpac Foundation’s process is rigorous. “But our recipients report that having the backing of a grant-maker that undertakes robust research before investing, opens doors to other sources of funding – other philanthropists have respect for that due diligence,” she said.
She sums up her advice with “go slow to go far”.
“Think of all the opportunities you can create for your organisation and take the time to articulate your business properly.”
For more information about the Westpac Foundation and a full list of grant opportunities and eligibility criteria, visit www.westpac.com.au/westpacfoundation.
For more information on strategic tools and tips for planning for your organisation, visit the www.davidsoninstitute.edu.au for a number of useful articles. Short courses are also available.
About The Davidson Institute:
It is Australia's First School of Money backed by Westpac Banking Corporation. It provides an extensive range of financial education, from free seminars to facilitated sessions on Cash Flow to Superannuation, and accredited courses in finance.
Westpac Social Sector Banking provides a customised range of banking solutions to suit Not for Profit organisations, charities, associations as well as single-interest and community groups.
For more information, visit Westpac Social Sector Banking.