Sugarvalley Neighbourhood Centre
Employment of a Grant Writer across 12 regional centres
Sugarvalley Neighbourhood Centre, like the 11 other neighbourhood centres in the Hunter Valley region, provides community services and support such as health services, referral and advice, playgroup, transport for the elderly, and outreach services.
Before the employment of a Grant Writer to work across the region, each of the 12 Centres were drafting grant applications separately, which are time consuming and burdensome. Many of the centres lack the time, resources, skills or charity status to be able to seek and gain grant funding. This pilot Grant Writer program would allow local centres to focus their energies on service delivery and direct support, as well as opening up avenues for joint projects, shared learnings and greater collective effectiveness.
All 12 centres are members of the Hunter Valley Neighbourhood Centre Forum, who meet bi-monthly to discuss current issues, ideas and strategic direction. The Grant Writer reported to the Forum, updating centre Managers on progress, successes and challenges. This demonstrated a rarely seen level of collaboration across small not-for-profits, and an encouraging strategic initiative to address identified gaps in skills and resources, one that was unlikely to attract government funding. Sugarvalley Neighbourhood Centre approached VFFF to support the role in mid-2017.
VFFF approved an initial distribution of $23,650 for the first 12 months of the pilot, with a view to consider a further request pending successful outcomes at the end of this period. After 10 months, the Grant Writer had raised a total of $162,922 for 12 neighbourhood centres, assisted with 48 grant applications and over 30 fundraising letters with a success rate of 55%. Including funding raised and in-kind contributions, it was calculated that every $1 invested by VFFF yielded an outcome of $5 to the community. By the end of the second year of VFFF funding, a total of $269,622 had been raised.
While some of the proposed outcomes proved challenging to achieve, and some collaborative projects did not eventuate, the pilot aimed to change the status quo and provide a boost to the financial health of the region’s community centres and therefore the wellbeing of its individuals.