Like all organisations, motorsport clubs require their events to be financially viable, to ensure the club is able to continue to run events in the future. At most rallies, the primary (and often only) source of income is competitor entry fees. Increases in entry fees are usually a last resort for organisers in improving the financial outcome of their event, with organisers wary of adding to the cost burden on competitors. So what other options does an event organiser have to increase revenue?
Sponsorship is the most common way to increase revenue, but this is getting harder and harder in the current economic climate. A better option for sporting clubs, and one which hasn’t been fully taken advantage of, is to apply for a Government Grant. State and local governments regularly run programs to provide funding for local events and in almost all cases, state and club motorsport events are prime candidates for a successful grant application. It is always worthwhile to ask your local government contact if there are any opportunities at the present time, as well as regularly check websites like DestinationNSW and the NSW Office of Sport and Recreation for programs as they arise.
As these grant processes are usually highly competitive, an excellent application is vital to your chances of receiving funding. We have prepared 5 tips to help you and your club to be successful with a grant application.
- Know your audience
It is very important to understand what the Government Department who is running the grant process is trying to achieve. In every case, you should ensure that your event objectives and outcomes achieve or compliment the objectives and outcomes of the Government. Make sure you read the grant documentation, and any information they provide. Even better, ask for a meeting to discuss your application before you submit it. Not only does this ensure you are on the right track with your application, but it also builds rapport and shows professionalism of your event and organisation.
Most grant processes also publish a list of successful applicants, and this can also give you clues as to how you should position your application. Are they looking to increase tourism to the region during the quieter months? Focus your grant application on the people the event brings, how long they stay in town, and the money they spend in town. Are they looking to improve local participation in sport and recreation? Bring to their attention the opportunities for locals to get involved in the event in volunteer official positions, and focus on any local competitors you can identify.
- Know your organisation and event
Every grant application will ask you to describe your event, and the responsible organisation. They are trying to understand what you are trying to achieve, and be confident that your club has the appropriate skills and knowledge to successfully run a public event. The key to this (as always) is planning. The more you plan your event, the easier it is to answer the questions asked.
To assist you with this, check out the RallyNSW event Project Plan and Marketing Plan templates. You’ll find that a lot of the information captured in these documents will write your grant application for you.
- Have a realistic budget
Events must remember that the purpose of seeking an event grant is not to increase the profit the club makes on the event. Most grant applications will expect the budget to finish at a breakeven position. You will also be expected to provide invoices from suppliers post event to prove the money was spent how you said it would be.
This doesn’t mean that the club cannot make money off the event! All this means is that you should be seeking funds for activities you would not normally conduct if you didn’t receive the grant. Marketing and Promotion is always a good option for a funding request, because there are numerous ways of spending the grant that won’t impact on the running of the event if you aren’t successful. These activities are also easily quantifiable, and able to be linked to event and government objectives and outcomes.
- Evaluate your success
Following your event, you should always conduct a full review into all aspects of the event to identify successes, areas for improvement, and future opportunities. Organisers, key officials, competitors, sponsors, and government representatives should all be involved in this process, as each stakeholder will have a different perspective of the event and the outcomes it achieved. Not only will this help you to improve the event in future years, but it is vital for the final step of the grant process, and also our next tip.
A note for competitors – when an event asks you for feedback, it’s not just to make them feel good about themselves! Your input is important to improve the event for you in future years, as well as improve the chances of the event receiving additional funding. Win-win!
- Remember to acquit your grant
A requirement of all funding agreements is for a grant acquittal to be performed by the recipient of the funding, to the organisation providing the funding. Basically, this is your club reporting back to the Government to confirm that the funds were spent on what you said they would be spent on, and that the outcomes of the event were achieved. Acquittals also assist the Government to assess the effectiveness of their grant processes.
Failure to acquit a grant has repercussions for your organisation. Best case, you won’t be eligible for future funding programs. Worst case, you’ll be asked to pay the money back!
The final piece of advice we have, is to keep trying! You won’t always be successful, these processes are very competitive and the successful organisations are usually very experienced with writing grant applications because they have applied for the last 10 years or so. Don’t give up! The more you apply, the better you will get at writing the application, and the higher your chances will be. Make sure you ask for feedback from the Government Department on your application, not only to find out what you need to improve, but also to get further exposure for your club and event. Good luck!