Grants mapping and community support

If you want to improve your processes and reduce the red tape associated with your organisation's grantmaking, you first need to be aware of all the different ways in which your organisation supports the community. This knowledge can be hard to come by in a large entity. Undertaking a grants mapping exercise will help you get hold of the information you need.

Why bother?

Grants mapping has the potential to benefit your organisation in numerous ways, including:

  • enabling it to understand what it is doing and - more importantly - how and why;
  • increasing internal staff awareness of what community support is available, and who the organisational contacts are
  • increasing effectiveness and efficiency in handling enquiries
  • minimising duplication and gaps (by recording all outgoing funds in one database)
  • making processes fairer, and more equitable, transparent and accountable
  • reducing red tape
  • improving paperwork and decision-making.

How should we group the grants?

One useful framework for understanding different types of community support is "giving, shopping and investing."

  • Giving involves the relatively straightforward process of providing donations and/or subsidies.
  • Shopping involves procuring goods or services.
  • Investing entails seeking a particular outcome, and it often involves a longer-term relationship. It imposes accountability requirements on the organisation, group or individual receiving support.

Start by listing grants under those three headings - giving, shopping and investing - and then also record:

  • the name of the grant
  • its purpose, and any related policy and budget number
  • the date the grant is available
  • the amount available
  • the contact person
  • the application process (is it a discretionary donation, a subsidy, a reimbursement or a revolving grant?)
  • how decisions are made, and who makes them
  • how the community can access information about the support
  • whether funded groups need to provide an evaluation/acquittal.

Other tips

  • Have a clear sense of purpose - know what you need to collect, and why, how and when you are going to go about it.
  • Keep other staff abreast of your project - you will be more likely to get input from them if they understand why you're asking for information.
  • Gain high-level support so your management can garner further support for you.
  • Be prepared for the project to take a significant amount of time.
  • As well as seeking information from other staff, you may have to dig through material such as policy registers, budgets and records in order to create a complete picture.

With thanks to Maya Spannari, formerly of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council, for sharing her grants mapping approach.