Webinar transcript - How to Write a Funding Application
Natalie Bramble Good morning, and welcome to the International Student Welfare Program webinar on submission writing. Today, we're going to go through these areas in the agenda.
Before we get started, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we're meeting today, and we're delighted to have you along with us. I'll introduce the other panellists shortly but, first, I wanted to introduce myself. My name is Natalie Bramble and I'm a trainer with Our Community.
We've got a lot to get through today. We're going to be going through some common grant information as well as some very specific areas relating to the program. We're going to be talking about planning your activity, identifying grants, researching the program, preparing your application - and we will address some very specific application questions - looking at the assessment criteria, doing the work and reporting and acquitting. Of course, at the end of the webinar, we will have an opportunity for you to ask questions and receive responses.
You'll also notice in the control panel that's appeared that there are copies of the files that we'll be referring to today, as well as the slides. So feel free to download those, and they'll also be available on the recorded webinar page as well. The control panel that you see in front of you, as you can see, looks something like that, and there you will find the handouts to download. So if you haven't been able to find those as yet, please feel free. What you'll also see as well is a box called "questions" which I'm just highlighting here now. If you have any questions as we go through the webinar, please feel free to ask those questions in that box, and we will refer to those questions at the end of the webinar.
So let's meet the other presenters. I'd like to introduce Vittoria Mancini from the Student Experience, International Education in the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources. Vittoria, would you like to explain your role and experience as it relates to this session?
Vittoria Mancini Thanks, Natalie. I've been working with the International Education team for over a year now, assisting in the delivery of the International Student Welfare program. Part of my role includes answering queries from potential applicants about proposals and questions about writing applications to our program. We hope today's webinar, as well as our own other support documents, will be available on our website and, together with the webinar today, will assist our potential applicants in writing their applications.
Natalie Bramble Wonderful. Thanks, Vittoria. The second person I'd like to introduce you to is Diana Crvenkovic. Diana, if you'd like to explain your role and experience as well as it relates to the program?
Diana Crvenkovic Sure. Thanks, Natalie. Hi, everyone. My name's Di. I work with Vittoria and a team at Study Melbourne. That team includes the Study Melbourne student centre. Our job, really, is to deliver a range of programs the Victorian Government invests in to improve the wellbeing and increase the support available for international students. One of our key initiatives is this program, the International Student Welfare Program, so very happy to be here today.
Natalie Bramble Wonderful. Thanks, Di. When you have questions as we go through the day, Vittoria and Diana may clarify and address some of those questions. So we'll hear from them a little later as well. Just remember, as we're going through, if you have those questions, please ask them. At the end of the webinar, there's also a survey that we'll ask you to complete. And for those questions that we may not get to we will, of course, provide a document with those questions addressed. So let's get right into the presentation.
The first thing that we're going to be talking about is planning the activity. So in the submission, in the program, this is to support an activity plan. It's really, really important. I know some of you are probably expert project managers and know the value of what we're reinforcing here. We certainly can't undervalue the time and energy that we put into the planning before we even begin to look at the application questions.
As you'll see, the table in front of you is a broad overview of what an example activity is about. This is purely just a sample only, for demonstration purposes, so please don't use any of the figures or measurements as a guide. The table is an easy way to think through and start planning the project. It is really important that you take time to think through what you're doing and, if you don't have a project plan, you can certainly use this as a starting point for planning your activity. In the first column, you'll see that it looks at what the problem, issue, challenge or opportunity is. Now, this is really about what the need is that you're experiencing or that you're seeing for those students. So the example that I've extracted from the City of Melbourne report, clearly shows that students are having difficulty in making friends, there's a lack of opportunities for them to interact with the community, and they're reporting difficulties finding work, and concerned that this negatively impacts on their studies.
So we've identified that this is something that we'd like to address. We've then discussed what the option is to address those needs. What is the solution that we're really looking for here? Now, the solution that we've suggested is to hold community dinners, recruit local residents to support students to increase that local engagement, and also broker local volunteering and internships and employment opportunities. I just would like to say, on the solution, just stop and ask yourself if that does address the need and, particularly relating to the program, if it actually does align with one of the program aims. We've then discussed, once we've decided on the solution, what we're actually going to do, what the cost is and who's paying for that cost.
So what are the stages and steps? Again, those figures are very indicative as sample-only figures, so please don't use those as a guide when you're setting up your budget for your activity. And you can see there, we've listed out the types of things that we'll need to do in order to provide the solution. In the last column we're considering how we're going to measure the success of what we've said we'll deliver. Two really critical points we want to make here relating to the program specifically, is that we set the measures of success for our activities, so we really need to make sure that they're achievable. Please don't overstate what we think you're able to do; really consider how long you will have to deliver the solution. By the time you factor in the receiving of funding, getting ready to deliver and then the reporting time, you may have between eight to ten months, depending on the activity. So please check that your measures are actually achievable within that timeframe.
The other thing to consider in terms of realistic measures is carefully considering the factors that influence the recruitment of students to your activity. So be sure to be realistic about the levels of engagement, budget and timelines here. Vittoria, in particular, related to the activity plan and the measures. Is there anything else that you'd like to add?
Vittoria Mancini Thanks, Natalie. That's a comprehensive list for everyone to consider, and we'll be discussing a number of those points in more detail as we go through today. The key points I'd like to reinforce, just as this point, for people to remember to carefully read the guidelines; continually go back over the guidelines and ensure that you're clear about the aims of the guidelines and the assessment criteria for the questions that you're trying to answer as part of your application.
The importance of an evidence base and the logic to your activity and, again, I'd reinforce your point that you need to be realistic about the measures and the timeframe that you're trying to implement your activity in. In terms of our guidelines, just reinforcing the importance of a student-centred approach and the focus on partnership that underpin the guidelines; needing to be clear that those principles underpin each of the applications or the planned activity. And then just the last point I'd make is make use of all the resources that are available in preparing your application, and that you can contact us. There will be documents on Business Victoria website, and on our Study Melbourne website, which will be able to help. But we'll provide more information about that at the end of the webinar.
Natalie Bramble Wonderful, thank you. So the activity plan is a very important part of the program, and you'll notice in the application that the activity plan forms a large part of the application in setting out what you're going to do. And we're going to be talking about some more of those elements as we move further through the webinar.
Now, Vittoria mentioned that logical flow, and that is really, really, critical. Some of you, I know, are very well aware of the logic model; you might also call it Program Logic. It's a very useful tool that is based on the theory of change, and that it uses a logical flow to identify what has actually changed as a result of what you're doing. Now, for those of you who haven't used this tool before, I'm just going to give you a brief overview. The logic model starts off with what the inputs are. So what is it that we need in order to deliver this solution that we're talking about? What is it that we need to do? Then it's about saying, if we get that resource so, for example, we need local volunteers to support the students. So if we get that resource, what then will they do? What changes as a result of having that resource? What are the activities that they'll deliver? Then we ask, once they've done that, so for example, they're providing that student support and those local connections and local networks, what then are the results of that, so what are the tangible results to the individuals that are going through your activity?
And what are the outcomes that we expect as a result of those? So in terms of outcomes, certainly think about the program and linking it back to the needs. Why are you doing what you're doing? Why is the activity needed? And also reflect back into the guidelines to see if they are lined with the program focus on that wellbeing, welfare, and making sure that you check those guidelines in the program aims.
Of course, there's always an ultimate goal: we definitely want to have an ultimate impact. For this program, though, again, be very realistic about what you can expect to achieve. If you're talking about behavioural change, that is very long term; that's more of an impact not necessarily an outcome. But an outcome might be that there's a sense of wellbeing and a sense of, "I'm being included in the community. My self-confidence has increased and I'm feeling like I'm more engaged in the local community as a result." So just really do consider those.
But the logic model, for those of you who haven't used it, is a great tool. One of the great things about the logic model as well is that Australia is quite young in adopting the model. It's been in place in the UK and in America for many years. So you can actually R&D, which is "rip off and duplicate", but making sure you don't breach copyright, et cetera. But there are a lot of examples. If you simply go to Google Images and you type in what activity you want to deliver, for example, it might be, "International student employment logic model", you may very well find a logic model that's already been fleshed out a little bit that you'll be able to use as an example to help you start thinking through those.
The other really great use of a logic model is that you can make sure that you've included all of the budget items. So the budget items will come from your inputs and activities in your activity plan. Again, really reflect on those outcomes that you are proposing to achieve which accord with measurements in the activity plan, to really make sure that they're achievable in that timeframe.
One of the other tools that we wanted to share with you that we find is exceptionally useful from a general grants development perspective, is a grants development tool, or a grants template, which may be the file might be called that. This is a Word document - you can download this now - it is actually in the go-to webinar control panel. What's really useful about this is it does save you a lot of time. All of those standard bits and pieces about your organisation: your ABN, your incorporations number, if you're incorporated; all those standard bits of information are in one document. There are a lot of common things that grant funders ask you to provide them with the information about. For example, "Describe your organisation. What are the activities, its objectives, purpose or history?" They also want to know about your capacity to deliver, some background on some of the key people and their experience delivering similar activities, or experience with the group of people that you're trying to help. Also, some very similar questions around accountability and governance processes and systems.
So it is a really useful document to have to hand, particularly when you have other people as well who are supporting you in delivering a grant. Having that information at hand can literally save you hours scratching around trying to find that information. That's a useful general tool for you.
The next slide shows eight key questions, for example, that are very common questions that are asked, and you can use that grants template to develop some responses to some of those questions using different word limits, and also put that in the template. And some of you may not be aware that Our Community is also the developer of the online grants application and management system called SmartyGrants. So these eight questions actually represent standard questions that grant-makers use when they build their online application form. Again, just a reminder, they're not unique to SmartyGrants; they're standard questions, and I'm sure if we have joining us on the line some people that have written grants before, you will find many of those questions quite familiar.
You'll notice that when we look at specific questions for the program there are also some similarities. One of the key things that Vittoria did mention was an evidence base, and making sure that you have those statistics and information. This is again something that you can add into your grants development tool, because it's really important that you know your statistics. We call them "headline statistics" for the specific area that you're addressing. This is just an example of those statistics, but you should have knowledge about where to find that evidence base and where to find those statistics and facts that actually do support the statements that you're making.
This gives some information about other forms of evidence that you can use. We've provided some links there to some resources, the funding statistics that are on our website; you'll find some more links and resources there as well. But when you're looking at statistics, don't forget the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the ABS. There is also some really good community profiling done or available through ID. We also have a range of statistics as well: so those surveys that we've done, the anecdotal evidence that we may have formed throughout the time of delivering whatever the programs or activities that we're delivering, our core business. We should have some statistics and information that we can use.
Also, there's the Department of Education and Training data and research on international education, so there's a range of statistics on that website; please do Google them and use that one as well.
It may also be that there's anecdotal evidence through newspapers, through councils; it might even be linked perhaps to your local council youth plan or youth strategy. Of course, there's other research available as well. So you may not use all of this evidence, of course, in one application - there are word limits - but you should have it ready. Again, the benefit to doing this is it does save you time in the long run.
The second thing that we're going to be talking about is identifying grants. Again, some general information about looking at grants and asking: are grants for you. So we need to make sure, if you're considering that you're applying for a grant, that it is appropriate. It's really important to stop and ask yourself if you do have the resources, the volunteers, all the cash contributions or in-kind contributions, to put towards projects. If you don't then perhaps you need to reconsider. Again, you can't undervalue the amount of time you need to spend in getting the grant application together and submitted, meeting the funder requirements and timelines during the project, and then developing your acquittal, and the acquittal being the find report that details the results of the grant that you've received, and where the funds are spent.
When you receive the grant contract, again, it's about making sure that you can meet the requirements of the contract, and remembering that grants should be a part of your fundraising strategy. There are a lot of other opportunities to raise funds, and certainly the fundingcentre.com.au is a great resource that we provide on other opportunities for fundraising, and making sure that you can contribute to the project or activity.
So where could you find other grants other than, obviously, the program that we're talking about today? There are a couple of suggestions for you. Obviously EasiGrants is a grants newsletter that we provide. There are Commonwealth Government grants via the Grant Funder, and of course the Victorian Government has their own government grants portal. There might also be some grants available, for example, through the City of Melbourne. The other thing that you can use is, of course, that wonderful tool called Google, to find funders. Now, many of us, when we approach Google searching, we might put in, "Grant for international student dinner" or, "Grant for student employment" or "youth employment" and they may be the terms that we're using. But if you actually flick that search tool and if you're actually thinking about the position that you've just been given, the money, and you're writing a members newsletter. With the members newsletter the language that you use differs. So it's going to be, "We've just received a grant for this from X, Y and Z" so that's actually the language that you'll use in the Google search term by saying, "Funding received for X. Grant received for X."
So you can see that the language is actually different, and what you might find is a funder that actually already funds similar activities that you're wanting to seek funding for. It just saves you certainly going through a lot of newsletters, so that might be another opportunity for you.
The third thing we're going to be talking about is researching a program. So once we've identified the grant that we want to apply for, the first thing we need to be looking at is eligibility. It's really important to make sure, not just that the activity that you're seeking funding for is eligible, but that you also have the right legal status and the right tax status and that you're also wanting those areas funded that the funder will actually pay for. Unbelievably, it's amazing, 20 to 30% of applications received are actually ineligible for the grant they've just applied for. Again, they could be ineligible because of a range of things: from the legal status and their tax status, or maybe they're actually asking for money to fund an activity, or an element of the activity, and the funder has already said they won't provide funding for that. Less than 10% of applicants bother to make contact with the grant-maker, even if they're specifically asked to do so. This is really important because, if you're asked to contact the funder and you don't, you could actually be excluded from the process and be deemed ineligible. So if you're asked to contact the funder, please do so.
It's really, really important; those guidelines are gold. There is so much information that you need to make sure that you fully understand the guidelines. You need to know who is eligible, who is ineligible, what is eligible and what is ineligible. It's really important that you are completely across those areas. Other things, of course, that are important, is to make sure that you know when it closes and if you'll be able to meet that closing date, and specifically how you're going to meet that.
Now, just to note that for both category 1 and category 2 guidelines for this program, those documents actually include a checklist for potential applicants, so please go back through that checklist and have a look at that checklist to see whether you can meet those eligibility requirements. And that's in section 8 of both of the guideline documents.
You also will see an eligibility questionnaire when you start the online application form. For many of us, there are some alternatives if you find you're not eligible, and I'll just give you an example. Category 1 eligibility, very particularly, is you need to ensure that you're a student organisation or an association. So if you're an individual, you can't apply for category 1, however, you can actually work with a student organisation or association to apply for the activity. So make sure that it's a student organisation or association that's a legal entity, it operates in Victoria, has an ABN, has been operating for at least two years and supports a strong base of international students living in Victoria and, of course, has appropriate insurance cover arranged for the activity. For category 2 eligibility, the lead applicant has to satisfy four specific requirements: to be a legal entity and operating in Victoria, have an ABN, have been operating for at least two years and, of course, ensure they've got the appropriate insurance cover. Again, individuals can't apply, and particularly for category 2, organisations involved in legal proceedings relating to winding up for insolvency are also ineligible.
Again, this is just a reflection that if you are ineligible because perhaps of your legal status, so if you're a group of individuals, then you can work in partnership. If you're a newer organisation, for example, and you haven't been operating for two years or more, you could certainly work with another partner who could be the lead applicant for the activity that you're proposing funding for.
There are some other things to check in the guidelines: it's really, really critical: to make sure that you're across the program aims. Ask why are they giving out the funds? What policy or strategic objectives does the program align to? And, just a reminder that these are general questions that you need to ask yourself of any grant program. How does the activity, or measurements, help them achieve their objectives? And a note that, in many cases, funders have a range of different program aims; you're not expected to meet every single aim of the program. Some funders actually specifically only ask you to address one aim of the program. So make sure that you check what the aims are and if there are any particular requirements around meeting those aims.
The other thing, of course, that you would need to ask for is what will the program provide funding for? Funders generally give you examples of the sorts of activities that they are looking to fund and they'll also specifically tell you what the program won't fund. For example, in the program guidelines, administration, normal business expenses and alcohol - for that wonderful welcome dinner that we wanted to have in our activity plan - are ineligible for funding. So make sure that you're across there. You don't want to make the mistake of asking the funder to fund something that they clearly said they won't fund. That one mistake could make you ineligible. Please be sure that you check those things.
The other thing that you really do need to make sure that you're aware of with funders is that you actually understand the terminology that they're using, and how it applies in their context. For example, in the guidelines for this program, there is actually a section around what welfare and wellbeing involves, so make sure that you do read that and completely understand the context for this program; again, looking at general guideline documents and some other things that you need to check.
The submission requirements. I mentioned earlier the time and date it closes; it's really important to check the time. Some close at 1:00 pm, at 2:00 pm, and some close at midnight. So make sure you know the time and date it closes. Really try and have your application in at least one or two days before it closes. There's nothing worse, particularly if you're in a regional area, than having connection issues and missing that deadline. Also check the submission requirements for specifics around budgets and costings. Make sure that you're fully across what the funder will allow in terms of costing in, for example, volunteer hours, et cetera. Check what they expect you to attach in terms of your certificates and insurances, if there is any supporting information that they're suggesting would be beneficial, and, of course, have a look at when the activity start and end dates are. That's really important. As an assessor, we've seen some submissions being submitted where they've got their activity starting after the date the funder has identified. So make sure that it's within the timeframe of the program guidelines. Of course, the other thing that you want to make sure that you're aware of is what are your reporting and acquittal requirements to the funder.
Another really key point - and we're going to be looking at some specific areas of the grant program shortly - is how the program will be evaluated and assessed. The other thing to ask is who do you think is likely to be on the assessment panel: is it internal staff? Are they using independents? So that's another thing to consider. Who are you communicating with? And last, please keep up to date; sign up to and read all of the frequently asked questions and answers that the funder releases. Join webinars, such as this one, and attend information sessions to make sure you're fully across everything the funder is asking for.
We're now going to be talking specifically about the application for category 1 and category 2. This is just a reminder: category 1 is up to $5,000 to help student groups deliver activities. Category 2 is wellbeing partnership activities of up to $75,000, for partnerships of two or more organisations to deliver the activity. Some of you, I know, have joined us looking at category 1, and some of you have joined us looking at category 2.
So we are going to be looking at some specific elements within each of those application forms for both categories. Note, there are key differences between the two, and we will reference accordingly. Vittoria may also jump in if she would like to clarify any particular points.
There are some key similarities but there are key differences. Again, the category that you're wanting to apply for, make sure that you're looking at the right documents. And the guideline for the program definitely does ask you to contract Study Melbourne to discuss the proposal, so please make sure you do.
The first one we're going to be looking at is what are the student issues the activity will address? This, of course, is where you need to talk about the issue or issues that are affecting the wellbeing of international students that you're wanting to address. The activity plan was the very first column that we talked about. You need to also be able to provide evidence regarding that identified need and, in particular, evidence of a gap in a service. If you're proposing to offer a service, so one of the ones in the activity plan earlier was employment services, and there are already employment services in communities, so why is that a service that's just not addressing international students, or this cohort that we're looking to address? Make sure that you do expand if it is a service gap.
Why have you chosen the activity to address that issue? Again, those solutions may be one possible option, so really make sure that that solution is actually addressing the need. You may wish to provide some information on the proposed approach or methodology for the activity. If it's a service gap, for example, tell us how it's unique and how you're proposing that it will actually make a difference.
The next one is to describe a group of international students you're aiming to attract as participants, including the total number of students expected to participate. List the names of at least the main education providers; where will they be studying? Are they going to be first-year students, final year students or from all years? Where are they actually going to be living? Tell us a little bit about that. Also please tell us about one or more cultural or language groups that they represent. As is in the application form, the next slide is an example of that, when we're talking about the various cultural groups and language groups.
Category 1 and category 2 ask you to describe how your organisation intends to manage the delivery of the activity. How are you actually going to support the delivery of the activity? Who's going to be responsible for delivering it and making sure that you achieve what you have said you will do? For example, are you going to have a project manager, a working group, a subcommittee or a reference group? Who's going to be in those roles and groups? How are decisions going to be made? Particularly reflect on co-design of the solution with students that have been involved in that development and design of the solution. That's also a really important aspect. Talk about how decisions are going to be made. If problems are going to arise, how will they be considered and addressed? And, importantly, what checks are going to be in place to monitor spending and make sure that the money has been spent appropriately.
This question is outlined in the category 1 application form, and for category 2 applicants, you will find it under a titled called Activity Governance. For category 2 in particular, we want you to describe your partnership. Just a reminder that for this program, for ISW, a partnership involves two or more organisations working together to achieve mutually-agreed outcomes. Remember that it is a requirement. One of you will be a lead applicant, and that means that you will take on the legal responsibility for the application and for the delivery of the activity. You're going to want to describe how the partnership intends to manage the delivery of the activity, including the activity budget.
When there are partners involved in a project, it's really critical that you tell us about their roles and responsibility. What are the governance arrangements you're going to use to support the delivery? Are you going to have a project reference group? And who's going to be involved? Again, it's a critical component to explain how students will be involved in the co-design of that solution. You are going to want to provide evidence. One of the things that we do ask you to provide, of course, is a partnership agreement. We really need to understand clearly where is the line between the partners involved in the activity in terms of roles and responsibilities. What happens if something goes wrong or if you need to perhaps make a media statement; who's going to do that? Be sure to also cover the commitment and the contribution from each partner, and make sure these elements are included in detail in the partnership agreement. Remembering again - I'm going to reinforce this - to ensure that students are engaged in that co-design or co-delivery of a solution. It's all well and good to say, "We're going to do this to meet the students' needs" but if we actually haven't consulted and they haven't been involved, how do we know our solution is actually going to achieve the levels of engagement that we want? How do we know our solution is actually going to address the needs that those students have?
There are specific questions in the category 2 application that ask you around partnerships, that ask you to describe each of the partnerships, the number of international students engaged with each of those organisations. Explain each of the partnership roles and their contribution in relation to the proposed activity, and it also asks you, if you've worked with those partners before, to expand on previous projects you've worked on together. And you'll see that in the category 2 application form.
Vittoria Mancini Natalie, I might jump in there with just a comment about the partnership. The key difference between these revised guidelines and the guidelines in the pilot stage is that there is no requirement to formally partner with a student organisation or association. It was a requirement of the pilot stage guidelines for our ISWG program. And a number of the listeners may have put in applications for the program through those guidelines. That's a key difference: your partner does not have to be a student organisation or association. Although obviously part of the assessment criteria does look at how is the partnership going to engage with, and involve, students in the design, delivery and review of the activity. I'll just leave that there for people to consider.
Natalie Bramble Fantastic. Thanks, Vittoria. The other thing that you'll be asked is how you record progress and report the end result. How are you going to measure the outcome of the activity? Describe the recordkeeping practices that you'll use to monitor how the project is planned, delivered and reviewed. Who's going to be responsible for keeping records and who's going to be reporting back to Study Melbourne about the project's outcomes and final budget expenditure? You will be asked to expand on that in that relevant question.
Both categories ask you to explore and explain how you'll promote Study Melbourne as part of the activity. Now, just a note here, promotion includes not just marketing and promoting Study Melbourne, but it's also about engagement as well. For example, you might ask a representative to attend at one of the events. Just consider those two elements of the promotion. The promotion and marketing as part of delivering the activity and rolling that out if you're successful, but also can we actually engage Study Melbourne through our activity?
Risk is a requirement for category 2. You're required to provide very specific details. Those of you who may not have a risk management template, there are some great templates available from Work Safe Victoria. But it's really important that, for category 2 applicants, you identify the main potential risks involved with the proposed activity and how these may be mitigated. Some examples of risk categories: project requirements, the schedule, the budget, deliverables. What happens if one of the partnerships doesn't go ahead; if one of the partnerships isn't able to commit? It could also be issues with scope creep, suppliers that you're relying on, communications, resourcing. Another key one not to forget, particularly if you're depending on individuals, is what we call key person risks. For category 1 applicants, think of a key person as a committee member or as the program manager. Remembering this is just required for category 2.
You may wish to include some or all of these, dependent on your project. We definitely want to know about the main risks to your project. There's a section that asks you to provide some very detailed information about those risks that you identified.
We did look at an example of an activity plan, and the activity plan in the application, if you haven't already seen it, covers four very specific areas that you're asked to address. It's really about making sure that you address these key points. The activity plan that we looked at earlier was more of a summary, an overview of the whole activity. But the activity plan in the application actually asks you to provide detailed information about each of those elements. If you remember, we talked about having a welcome dinner and also having to recruit local volunteers to support students. Each one of those will actually be a detailed area within the activity plan of the application. Make sure for each one of those that you're actually addressing these points. We want to know what the specific activity is, so that welcome dinner, for example, what are the aims of the welcome dinner? Again, what are you hoping to achieve? What's the outcome that you're hoping to achieve as a result of having that welcome dinner? What is the number of events, products, services that you're actually going to deliver, and tell us what a proposed delivery date or timeframe is.
The last column asks you what is the total number of international students you'd want to participate. The activity plan is a key requirement of delivering your activity, and a key requirement of the application for both categories. I just want to make a note here: if you're seeking funding for an activity that's part of a larger project in the program, you actually need to tell us about that. Your application has to clearly show the relationship between your proposed activity and the larger activity. But just make sure, when you're completing the activity plan, the budget and the expenditure forecast in the application, that you specifically only detail information on the activity that you're proposing for funding, not the larger project that it's a part of.
We're going to have a look at budgets. Starting off with category 1 budget, the application asks questions about income and expenditure. For category 1, co-contribution of either cash or in-kind is not a requirement. If you're wondering what sort of co-contribution in-kind may be, please again refer to the guidelines, and there are some examples there for you. If you've got either cash or in-kind contributions, we want to know details about who's making the contribution, and specifics on what they're actually providing. For example, $500 in kind for venue hire from X, Y, Z venue, and 40 hours of student volunteer time to manage and deliver the activity. Give us a little bit of detail so that we understand where it's coming from, who's providing it and specifically what is the contribution.
If you've applied for other sources of funding for the activity, we also need to know who the application is with, including any previous funding that you may have received. Also, please detail any real or perceived conflicts of interest, including conflicts of interest around relationships. Again, please refer to the ISW program frequently asked questions document for some information about conflicts of interest. If you've got any questions, again, please ask questions as we're going through. We're shortly about to enter the Q&A section, so please continue to ask questions as we're going through.
We're now looking at the category 2 budget. For category 2, obviously you're asking for a little bit more money, so therefore we need more detail in the budget. You will get a spreadsheet to download, I know that that might sound a little scary, but it's actually only two pages. It is the budget and the expenditure forecast as one sheet, and the next sheet is the finance plan. It's really important that you also read the first tab in the spreadsheet and the guidelines that provides guidance on completing your costings. Remember, there is a matched co-contribution requirement, so make sure that you do meet the minimum matched co-contribution requirement. The guidelines in the spreadsheet; you'll find information that is going to help you in completing the costings on areas, including in GST, hourly rates, volunteer labour, co-contributions and in-kind contribution. As we've reinforced there, importantly, please don't assume or guess. If you're not sure, email the team - and we've given you the email address there - or ask them about that.
The other important point on budgets is not to over-estimate the amount. If you're delivering an activity that does require a little bit more funding for a certain element, perhaps because you're based in a regional location and you need to add transport, then please make those areas clear so it's quite obvious that you're not asking for above what would be considered above-market payment rates, so it's very clear that additional funding is required for transport.
The other section that you are going to need to demonstrate is your capability to deliver. Really, every element of this application is exceptionally important. A capability is about you saying, "Yes, I know those students. I know their needs, and we know that this solution is going to work. And we've also delivered similar activities in the past." Some of the questions specifically that you'll need to address are what expertise and resources do you have, or does your partner organisation have, that's actually going to enable you to deliver the activity and, importantly, manage the funding. Be sure to talk about other funding that you've received and other similar projects or activities that either yourself and/or your partners have also delivered.
You're going to want to really talk about, in the second question, the main activities that you're currently involved in that do actually engage international students currently. Also include how many students are currently engaged in that activity. Again, this really comes back those things that we've reinforced throughout the webinar, which is making sure that you've got that engagement of students. If they are engaged in the co-design, co-delivery, be sure to include that here as well. I know that you may feel like you're repeating some things, but it really does help to reinforce those key elements when those questions are asked.
The third one is about describing how you intend to involve international students; again, particularly in the design, delivery and review of your activity. This really does enable you to expand on what you may have referenced in earlier responses to questions. You'll really be able to provide us with some detail about that involvement, and really explore how you're going to ensure a higher level of engagement because you have involved them in those elements of the activity.
The fourth one is talking about insurance cover: who's going to provide the insurance? Is it the applicant? If you don't believe insurance is going to be needed then please explain why. For example, if you're holding an activity at a venue that already has insurance cover, you may find that you don't feel insurance is necessary. If that's the case, please explain why, but also explain how you're going to make sure that that provider or that supplier does have the relevant insurance as well.
The next question is asking you to talk about any funding assistance that you've received in the past three years either from local, state or federal government. Please provide details of funding amounts received. You might also like to expand on that and tell us what activity it was for, and what project it was for, how that was delivered, when it was delivered, and you may also want to tell us about acquittal, if it's relevant. But please do provide information about that in that question. Of course, there are word limits, so keep those in mind as well.
The next question asks if there's anything else you would like to tell us about your capability to deliver the activity. Now, I just want to talk about capability just for a moment, and what some examples of capability might be. Capability really is two elements: capacity to deliver, so if you've got the resources, the networks, contacts, as well as your ability to do so. Think about experience, knowledge, et cetera. If there's anything else that you want to tell us about your capability or your connection with international students, please do so here.
Of course, last but not least, supporting documents. It's really important that you provide those supporting documents. There are very specific category 2 requirements: the budget spreadsheet, partnership agreements. You'll note there we've reinforced again, make sure that your partnership agreement covers these key elements. Of course, you may have some other elements, but please do make sure it covers roles, responsibilities, partnership commitment, partnership contribution, and any, perhaps, crisis or exit strategies that you also have. For financial records, if it's over $10,000, we'll also need copies of those as well.
Some other things that you can include: the insurance information, letters of support are great, annual reports. You may also want to reinforce your capacity to deliver by providing a risk management plan, and perhaps any engagement strategies or marketing plans that you have that is specifically relevant to the activity you're delivering. Just remember, with supporting documents, they need to be clearly labelled and cross-referenced with your application form.
Just a point on layout: keep it clean and simple. It's an online submission. Make sure you watch those word counts. Again, please try and get your application in early. Check those spelling, grammar, facts and figures. If you don't already have a tool, Grammarly is a great tool you can use if you don't have one, or if you don't have an eagle eye editor. Just a few characters can actually make a big difference when the assessor is reading it. For example, one I was reading recently stated "complacence" instead of "compliance." It really changed the whole context of what the applicant was really trying to get across. Short, succinct applications, responding clearly and thoughtfully to each question, are really welcomed. And applications, of course, that are assessed accordingly with guidelines and assessment criteria, which we'll cover in a moment.
You've won the grant, congratulations. Make sure you check the funding contract before you sign. Make sure you can do what you say. This is really doing the work. One important thing I want to point out here is that you do have a final report and acquittal, and the work on the final report and acquittal does not start at the end of the project, it starts now. As soon as you've been told that you are successful, if you're successful, you need to start making sure that you document records, ready to do that final report. So keep all of those documents; keep examples of marketing and promotion, for example, that you may do.
Inviting the funders, acknowledging the funders. There are, of course, branding guidelines, so make sure that you are aware of those. Look, if things change, hey, that's life. We're aware that things are going to change, particularly if we are relying on third parties. Please, the important thing here is that if things change, communicate that change and impact to the change straightaway to Study Melbourne. Talk to them and ask for a variation. Tell them what's happening and what you're planning on doing to address that issue.
The final point, 7, which is the assessment criteria. Each application is going to be given a point score against four main questions. I know we had questions in the application form. What I want you to do, when you've got your applications form at draft stage, is actually have a look at it and ask yourself how well does that application address these four key areas. Have we actually talked about, specifically, for example question 1, criteria 1, is an applicant, and any of our partners, capable of delivering the activity? Have we really, really got that message strongly across in our application form? If you don't believe you have, please do go back and please do strengthen that response, because these assessment criteria are going to be used to give you a mark and rank you with other applicants. This is your opportunity to make sure that you can receive as many points as possible against these assessment criteria areas.
The second one, of course, is will the activity support the wellbeing, and is it an appropriate response to their needs? Is the proposed activity of high quality? And the fourth one is how well the activity is going to engage with, and involve, those Victorian-based students. It's really important that you do review the assessment criteria. Of course, this is in the program guidelines.
Reporting and acquittal. Just with your report, you will obviously receive some information, if you're successful, about what that looks like, but what you will need to do is, of course, refer back to your activity plan and talk about how you've actually achieved what you set about to do. Talk about what worked well, what didn't work well, what you did as a result. That's really important as well to share the learnings that you've achieved as a result. Provide the measurements that you stated you would provide, any feedback or testimonials; please also share those in your report, and, of course, the finance report. So any income or expenditure that you've included.
A really good point here generally, from the funder's perspective, is they don't want to give you the money and then not hear from you until you do your acquittal. Let's just say you ran a workshop and you had a really great testimonial from someone, email Study Melbourne, tell them about it, share that information with them. Email your funder, whoever else that may be, and share that with them. It's really useful to share that as you go through your project so they get a sense for how the project is delivering.
Some really key important elements for this program, in particular, that you're going to have to report on is, of course, the activity plan. You're going to need to report and acquit on the activity plan that you provided in the application, and you're going to have to report to the budget and the expenditure forecast and the financial plan for category 2, and of course, a statutory declaration. So they're three really critical elements of a final report and the acquittal.
What's next? If you don't receive the funding, refine the applications, ask people for feedback, ask somebody independently to have a look at your application and give you some feedback. Of course, keep trying. For some, it may be that you need to actually increase your writing skills - that may be one - but please don't give up if you're not successful. Ask for feedback or advice.
Vittoria, I'll hand over to you just to talk about some of the links that they may find useful, and the online application form process.
Vittoria Mancini Thanks, Natalie. You'll see from this slide that we have included three key links for people to refer to. Business Victoria website provides information about the ISW program, but it also includes the application form, and that budget and finance template that needs to be completed for category 2. All of those documents are on that site, as well as frequently asked questions and ten top tips for completing an application. I'd just recommend that people go to that site to have a look at the application form when they do want to apply.
There's information through our Study Melbourne website as well about the program generally, but it links back to the Business Victoria website in terms of the application form and the frequently asked questions pages.
And then you can contact our team, myself, through the Study Melbourne email address that's up on that slide there if you have any specific questions.
In terms of an application, your application is a portal application through our Business Victoria website. You will be required to register on the Business Victoria website. That allows you to actually access the application form and it allows you to save your document as you're going through and completing it, and then go back to it so that you complete, prior to finally submitting. I would just recommend that people go to those sites and also just contact us if they have any questions.
The last thing I'd want to say is that two webinars that we've completed, the one last week and today's, will be available through our Study Melbourne web page, so people can come back to listen at their leisure. Thanks, Natalie.
Natalie Bramble Fantastic. Thanks, Vittoria. That concludes. I notice that none of you has any questions, so we must have been very clear about answering any questions that you may have. You may not have any questions just at the moment, but that doesn't mean that you may not have any questions in the future. Again, just a reminder that if you do have any questions about the program, please don't assume, please do get in contact with Study Melbourne and please do ask for questions directly to them.
In wrapping up, Vittoria and Di, is there anything in particular that you wanted to share with our attendees?
Diana CrvenkovicNo, I think that's been pretty thorough, Natalie. Thank you so much. But, as you say, there are other ways that people can continue to engage, and if any other questions pop up afterwards, please contact us through the Study Melbourne email.
Vittoria Mancini Thanks, Natalie.
Natalie Bramble Fantastic. Thanks very much, everybody, for joining us. As the webinar does close, a short survey will pop up. Please do provide some feedback for us; we'd greatly appreciate that. Again, please, if you haven't already, download those handouts that are in your got-to webinar control panel. For the recorded session, they'll be made available on the page. Thanks everyone very much for joining us, and enjoy the rest of your day.
Vittoria Mancini Thanks, Natalie.
END OF TRANSCRIPT
Return to the International Student Welfare Program page.