How do I get $8.1 million falling from the sky…?
20 July 2021 at 8:00 am
Neil Pharaoh goes behind the headline to look at how Scott Morrison’s favourite charity got an $8 million boost – and shares some advice on how your organisation can do the same.
The Age ran a story last week about ScoMo’s favourite charity getting $8.1 million in federal funding. So here I’m going to dive into some key points from this article, explain what they mean, and help you understand how you can also secure funding in a similar way.
Full disclosure: I have not worked for Together for Humanity. However, I’ll be breaking down four key components of The Age article, and explaining what they are, why they are important and how you can do the same:
- Successful pre-budget submission of $8.1 million.
- Political connections and how to use them.
- Concept of leveraging funding.
- Ad-hoc and one-off pre-election grants (or $2.4 million).
So, let’s kick off – what is a pre-budget submission?
Pre-budget submissions are made up to a year before a budget, as a proposal, overview or request for funding. They are often made by industry associations, lobby groups, advocates, or individual organisations and effectively frame the who, what, why, where, when and how for a pot of money. Pre-budget submissions can be made to the department and public service, through backbench MPs and caucus, through ministers, or even the PM.
A pre-budget submission sets the tone, formalises the paperwork, and “inserts” you into the process of getting funding. Government departments start this process merely weeks after the start of the new financial year, which means now (in July) is when people are starting their pre-budget submissions for July 2022.
As the process works its way through departments, in parallel, caucus members are engaging in advocacy and activism in their electorates – encouraging organisations or identifying projects to put up ideas to them also. The department, public servants, as well as ministers will also have their own ideas and suggestions, as will the political party (hint: these are the five stakeholder groups we use in all our mapping). These all start to come together as a massive bundle of pre-budget submissions, where the requests always outweigh the money available, and so the culling begins.
Political connections and how to use them?
Who are your political connections and how do you use them? Taking Together for Humanity as an example, the article speaks to Scott Morrison as patron, along with Dr Anne Aly, Julian Leeser, Natalie Ward, Jihad Dib (and others). It’s a comprehensive exercise in political stakeholder mapping when you add in their chair, former Liberal Party president Chris McDiven (and also the high profile Labor representation on their board).
But wait, I hear you say, “we have a well-connected board” – in my experience this is usually well overstated. If your board member cannot pick up the phone (having that person’s mobile number) to text and call them and get a reply, their connection isn’t as strong as they may think. Likewise, connections age, people leave and depart and distance grows, so it is always much better for the organisation to build structural and systemic political connections, across all five of those stakeholder groups.
Concepts of leveraged funding
Together for Humanity in its submission said it will match $2 from government funding, to $1 of community funding. Personally, I think they got off easily, as the most common “leverage” we see is either one for one (one government to one community) or one to one to one (government, earned or community and then philanthropic). The concept of leveraged funding is great for government, as it shows they get more bang for their buck.
While leverage isn’t everything in government landscape, it is important, and can be something which assists in tipping you over the edge into the funding bucket – so start to do mapping of your own leverage, where does your funding come from, what is the split, and how does this relate to current, and new government grants.
Pre-election money drop
One of the most tantalising bits of The Age article is the $2.4 million one-off preselection grant given to Together for Humanity – I am sure every reader would love $2.4 million dropped into their bank account just before the election. So how do money drops happen, and how do you assist in getting yourself into these positions?
I won’t lie, it is hard work and good luck, in equal parts. The hard work is the time spent building relationships, making connections, engaging with stakeholders externally. As well as being clear on what you want, the impact of the funding, insights, research and details of the program internally. The hard work does take years, or in the best case many, many months.
There is also a good luck side of things, being in the right place at the right time, or the right issue causing the right concern in politicians to which you or your project can provide a solution.
And let’s not kid ourselves, networks also matter.
About the author: Neil Pharaoh has spent most of his voluntary and professional life in and around social purpose organisations, government, public policy and advocacy. Neil has been behind many leading social policy and advocacy campaigns on gender rights, equality, medical research and education, and ran for Parliament in Victoria in 2014 and 2018. Neil is co-founder and director of Tanck, which focuses on better engagement with government, and regularly runs workshops and advocacy sessions and advises leading social purpose organisations on their government engagement strategy and systems.
Happenings on the hill is a fortnightly column focusing on all things politics, policy, campaigns and advocacy. Stay tuned for updates around political trends and elections, lobbying and advocacy news, and hints, tips and ideas on government engagement that are specifically written for the social purpose/for purpose sector.