Writing Funding Applications for Sporting Clubs
The Townsville Marksmen Rifle Club (TMRC) Incorporated and its funding experience with Queensland Government sports funding agencies is the primary source of information in this article. In addition TMRC made application to two regional private sector funding agencies but they played no part in range developments.
In an attempt at clarity and as a ready reference, this article will be largely presented in dot point format. Further, readers need to be aware that these notes are presented as a guide only and are not meant to be definitive.
1. Incorporated Clubs and ABN Numbers
- Incorporated clubs with an ABN number will find it easier to work with funding agencies.
- In Queensland in the absence of these identifying documents your Club is required to use a registered sponsor.
- Incorporation and ABN numbers are a matter for your Club’s consideration.
2. Funding Sources
- TMRC’s funding success has been associated with Queensland Government agencies.
- The Australian Sports Commission nominates funding sources state by state.
- Funding sources sometimes change their name, so if you don’t use an agency for some time be aware of possible name changes.
- TMRC’s primary source of funding has been the Queensland Department of Sports & Recreation. Recently this organisation has been known as Queensland National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing.
- The second Queensland agency that assisted TMRC was the Gambling Community Benefit Fund.
- All Queensland government funding agencies are now found at: www.olgr.qld.gov.au/grants
- There are private sector regional funding organisations. For example in Townsville Queensland Country Credit Union provides funding.
- Check your region for possible private sector funding sources.
3. Funding Agency Guidelines
- Funding agencies present concise guidelines for clients.
- It’s imperative to read guidelines carefully.
- Do not ignore guidelines – if you do your application will fail.
- Present your application in the best possible light by doing what you are asked.
- Remember you are competing with other sporting clubs for limited dollars.
- Be aware that different funding agencies fund different items of development.
- Make sure you clearly understand what items the agency will and won’t fund.
- Note carefully the maximum dollar value the agency will fund.
- Exceed the upper funding limit and your application will fail.
4. Answering Funding Agency Application Questions
- It helps to underline key points in each question.
- Funding officers have many applications to read.
- Keep your answers clear and concise. Stick to the point and don’t waffle.
- Observe word limits.
- Use dot point statements if they lend themselves to answering questions.
5. Get to Know Your Local Sports and Recreation Officers
- Determine if there is a local Sports & Recreation officer in your region.
- When commencing a development program seek to involve the development officer from the outset.
- Make an appointment and visit his/her office.
- Outline your Club’s development program.
- Ask if the officer is willing to visit your Club’s range to gain an on-site understanding of the proposed project(s).
- Ask if the officer will review draft applications and offer comment for improvement.
- In Queensland a specific officer is assigned the task of monitoring government funded projects.
- Avoid mistakes through consultation.
- Over time build a climate of mutual respect between your Club and the Sports & Recreation officer.
6. Establish Development Costs Accurately
- Establish your Club’s project cost accurately.
- Do not apply for funding that exceeds the funding agencies maximum allocation.
- Applications exceeding maximum allocations should be presented in two or more applications.
- This may require presenting your application in subsequent funding rounds.
- For example TMRC applied for butt’s development first, followed by a second application covering firing mound development.
- Ask your funding agency if they consider contingencies and escalations as part of their cost structure.
- If the project is large call tenders.
- Employ reputable building companies.
7. Establish Sound Accounting Procedures
- Sound accounting procedures are imperative.
- You must support expenditure with receipts, invoices, bank statements.
- You must spend funding in line with your Club’s application.
- Any deviation from the original application must be approved by the funding agency.
- Changes must have prior approval – they must not be retrospective.
- If you fail to gain prior approval and change direction your Club could lose its funding.
8. Acquittal Deadlines
- Acquittal deadlines can be generally cited in contracts between Clubs and funding organisations.
- Clubs are obliged to meet acquittal deadlines.
- Do not ignore acquittal guidelines.
- If your Club can’t meet acquittal guidelines ask your project officer for an extension.
- Put your Club’s request in writing and explain why you need an extension e.g. work is incomplete due to rain.
9. Facilities Use
- Nominate how many members your Club has.
- Nominate how many people are likely to use the range annually.
- It’s legitimate to use the same person use by the number of times /annum to establish use figures.
- Identify and cite special use such as championship events e.g. Queens events.
- Include visitor numbers in your annual use figures.
- Make a statement about regular use e.g. week end club shoots.
- Make a statement about exceptional use e.g. training facility for representative shooters.
- Make statements about the success of representative shooters and their need for improved facilities.
10. Facilities use by the Wider Community
In Queensland the use of publicly funded sporting facilities by the wider community is expected and encouraged. To this end the following organisation have used or visited TMRC’s Herveys Range Shooting Complex:
- Community members visit on Come & Try Days.
- Sporting Shooters lease part of the range from TMRC.
- Social clubs such as the RSL, Rotary and Ergon Energy conduct an annual shoot/picnic.
- High school students visit to undertake instruction on safe firearms handling.
- Cairns Junior Rugby League has camped on the range while attending championship events.
- Sea Scouts have camped on range.
- The local Rural Fire Brigade draws water from the range.
- The Range is available to the SES in the event of an emergency.
- The University of the Third Age (U3A) visited to undertake a range tour and discuss the role of target rifle shooting in the community.
11. Letters of Support from Community Sources
- If your range is leased from another organisation you will need to a letter of permission from that organisation to build or install new equipment.
- You will need to submit a copy of your letter of permission to the funding agency.
- Secure letters of support from organisations using your Club’s range.
- Ask your local politicians (State and Federal) for letters of support.
12. Establish a Club Business Plan
- When approaching funding organisations, if your club has a business plan from the outset it helps build confidence – it’s perceived as this organisation knows what it is doing.
- Clubs should conduct a SWOT analysis of their organisation before attempting a business plan.
- A SWOT analysis identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to and for any organisation.
- The NSW Government’s Sports and Recreation has posted an excellent SWOT analysis format for sporting clubs.
- The NSW Government has also posted a document on the web called: Corporate Governance – strategic business planning.
- This site also nominates a second business plan called: The Strategic Business Plan – A guide to the preparation for not-for-profit sport and recreation organisations.
- For further guidance go to the Townsville Marksmen Rifle Club’s website and review TMRC’s business plan.
Bottom-line: 'Success = Preparation meeting Opportunity!'
Bernie Davis - Project Manager
Townsville Marksmen Rifle Club Incorporated- 8 July 2014