How to get Grant Savvy in 2012

enadmin, 21st November 2011

Every community radio station faces a very common issue, one that is vital to the operations of a community broadcaster, regardless of circumstances. This issue, is of course, funding.

A large percentage of community stations would have an annual income of less than a $100,000 each financial year.

The running costs of a radio station quite often exceed that of what the station earns.

These costs range from transmission fees, APRA (Australasian Performers Rights Association) fees, equipment, training, content, staff salaries, outside broadcasts and premise management and rental fees.

A great way for any community station or non-profit organization to succeed in funding their operations is through grants.

The 2011 CBAA Conference hosted a workshop on grants and how to be grant-savvy.

During this session, hosted by the Community Broadcasting Foundation, those who attended were shown a step-by-step guide on how simple it is to apply for a grant through the use of CBF's revolutionary online grants application website; Smartygrants.

Smartygrants is an easy online grant application system, and I had the pleasure of trying it out for myself before the entire workshop audience.

It is as simple as creating an account and you're good to go.

You  click on the grant you wish to apply for and fill out all the necessary information. Once it's all filled in, you can submit it straight away.

It was enforced throughout the session that it is absolutely paramount that you fill out all the information correctly.

Failure to do so would of course result in your application being rejected, so be vigilant.

Here are a few tips to ensure your application is at its highest quality:

Before applying for a grant, remember to read the guidelines; these outline exactly what you have to say and they guide you through the assessment criteria.

If you're unsure about anything, speak to the grants administrator.

Showcase your creativity and innovation; think outside the box to really make your application stand out.

Ensure the budget for your project is added up correctly and always include in-kind contributions; the board wouldn't have much faith in you if you couldn't budget correctly.

Finally, proof reading your application works wonders; never forget to do that.

There are many grant rounds coming up over the duration of 2012, so there will be many opportunities to fund your station in the near future.

This is a fantastic way to get your station's funding back on track, and it's even easier now, so there's no excuse.

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The largest pressure faced by community radio stations is financial. Stations constantly face the reality of how to ensure an adequate operating income in an increasingly competitive mediascape. Van Vuuren (2006c) argues that the extent of the contribution of community media to media democracy in Australia depends largely on how the sector manages commercial pressures. There is a need to ensure more financial stability to allow stations to focus on their primary community-orientated and participatory goals.


This article is intended as a resource for community broadcasters and researchers. It draws on interviews and discussion with community broadcasters and activists to identify practical examples of funding methods. The seven common methods of funding a community station are detailed. These are: support from the station's own community; patronage from a larger organisation; commercial advertising and sponsorship; competitive grants; service contracts; support by NGOs; support by governmental agencies. The article points to resources where the reader can discover more fully how each funding method is used, and concludes that a prudent station may use several methods to help ensure economic sustainability.


Community radio volunteers and staff who would like to upskill with courses at Australia’s premier radio school can now apply for a grant to cover the cost of the study (sponsored).