Fundraising and philanthropy


Raising funds for not-for-profit and community organisations is essential to ensure delivery of services. Finding and securing funding can be time-intensive and hard work. In this section we detail the best resources to keep you up-to-date with the best fundraising practices.

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Raising funds

Many not-for-profit organisations, especially new organisations operate with small budgets and very few, if any paid staff. Your organisation may receive income from membership fees, donations or other types of fundraising.

Funding or grants are offered by:

  • Federal government departments or agencies
  • State government departments or agencies
  • Local government
  • Businesses
  • Philanthropic organisations

There are many different types of funding available but your organisation will only be able to apply to those that share the same aims and interests as you. If you are applying to government or philanthropic organisations, there will usually be funding guidelines that describe the purpose of the funding, as well as information about which organisation are eligible to apply and what the grant can be used to fund.

Funding guidelines also include important dates such as when the application must be received, when the project can start and/or finish and when you will be told if you are successful. Most funding guidelines require that you write a funding submission or application that describe what you like to do, how you intend to do it and any other information required in the guidelines such as a budget.

For most grants, submission writing involves a lot of time in addition to the day-to-day work of the organisation, and your application will not necessarily be successful. Before applying for funding, your organisation will need to decide if it is able to spend sufficient time on writing submissions and if it has the resources to meet the reporting and other requirements of the funding body if it is successful.

Most funding bodies ask for regular reports that include details about how the money is being spent and these might have to be provided in a particular format. You may need to develop policies and procedures outlined by the funding body that are aimed at ensuring your organisation is providing services according to best practice standards. All of these requirements will have an effect on the way that you plan and run your organisation.

Writing a submission

If you do decide to apply for funding and have found one or more funding programs that might suit your organisation and its needs, you will need to write a submission. Many funding bodies will also provide their own application form for you to complete. If you are applying for a small amount of money to buy a piece of equipment, for example, you may only need to complete a short application. For larger projects or a program of activities, you will probably need to include more details including some/all of the following information.

You might want to include research that your organisation or others have done already. Provide statistics and other data that shows a community need. If your organisation has already done similar work, you can include information about how you can build on this. It is often a good idea to include letters of support from other organisations or the community that your project will benefit.

The funding body will also be interested in whether you have received other funding and if you met all the requirements. If you haven’t received funding in the past it may help your application if you can show that your organisation is well-managed and accountable to its clients, staff and the community. You may also be asked to provide an annual report, financial statements and the qualifications of your staff.

You will need to include details about what you want to achieve through the project and how you will know if you have been successful. This means thinking of ways that you can measure improvements during and after the project. If you are going to run activities, you will need to provide details about what they will involve, who might be interested and how your organisation will run them. Most funding bodies will also expect to see a detailed budget for your program or project. You may want to talk to the contact person for the funding body before completing your submission to ensure that you include all the necessary information.

Funding decisions

Most funding is competitive which means that there will be many other organisations applying at the same time. Sometimes you will need to wait for some weeks or even months to hear whether your application has been successful. If your organisation does receive funding, you will usually be asked to sign an agreement that describes certain requirements which you will be expected to meet. This is a legal document so if your organisation cannot meet these requirements, they might have to repay the funding and may not be able to apply for further funding. Before signing the agreement, you might want to ask for advice from a solicitor.

Grants and funding sources

There is a range of potential sources of funding for organisations that deliver community services in Queensland.

Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) has an excellent and regularly updated grants page that is specific to the community services sector in Queensland.

Department of Communities funding – information on funding available to community service organisations in Queensland.

Community Benefit Funds provide grants to a broad range of community groups from revenue collected from gambling activities such as poker machines and casinos.

Queensland Government Grants Finder – assistance programs that may help your organisation.

Australian Government’s grants information system – find current opportunities and grants awarded

Other funding sources

Tips, links, information and directories from a variety of potential funding sources throughout Australia.

Philanthropy Australia has a directory of grants and funding sources available from Australian philanthropic societies and information about workshops for organisations seeking grants.

Our Community provides a range of information to help community groups access funds, including newsletters, tip sheets and a grant resources database.


Philanthropy is the planned giving of money or other resources for the purpose of developing community wellbeing. It represents a potential alternative source of funding from government grants, fundraising, corporate sponsorship, earned income and memberships. Philanthropic funding can be more discretionary than funds from other sources and it can fund projects or organisations that are more risky than government might fund. Securing philanthropic funding therefore enables a not-for-profit organisation to diversify its support base.

Philanthropic foundations in Australia

An estimated 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8 per cent) gave in total $12.5 billion to charities and NFP organisations over 12 months in 2015-16, according to Philanthropy Australia research. The average donation was $764.08 and median donation $200. The specific source for this is the individual giving study conducted as part of Giving Australia 2016.

Significant philanthropic foundations that make grants in Queensland include:

How can Philanthropy Australia assist you?

Philanthropy Australia is the national peak body for philanthropy and is a not-for-profit membership organisation. Its members are trusts and foundations, families and individuals who want to make a difference through their own philanthropy and to encourage others to become philanthropists. Its mission is to represent, grow and inspire an effective and robust philanthropic sector for the community.

Philanthropy Australia provides a great range of resources, some freely available on its website as well as a range of professional development & learning.

What other useful organisations can I access?

Creative Partnerships Australia aims to connect the arts, business and donors

Research Australia Philanthropy aims to build health and medical research philanthropy in Australia

Our Community provides advice and tools for not-for-profit community groups and schools, as well as links between the community sector and the general public, business and government

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) aims to promote for the public benefit rural and regional renewal, regeneration and development in Australia in social, economic, environmental, and cultural areas

Australian Investing in Women advocates for greater investment in women and girls and promotes the use of gender sensitive principles in grant making.

Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN) works primarily with grant makers, with the vision of improving the conservation and functioning of Australia’s environment by inspiring effective grant making.

What kinds of organisations are supported by philanthropy?

Charitable trusts and foundations can have different restrictions on what organisations they can fund. In particular, charitable trusts established under a Will are legally bound by the terms of the Will or Trust Deed. Very few charitable trusts and foundations can make grants directly to individuals.

In general, however, most grant-making trusts and foundations will require that organisations applying to them for funding are endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as a Tax Concession Charity (TCC) and/or as a Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). You can find more information on the ATO website.

Free resources at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT)

QUT is home to the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, or ACPNS. The ACPNS brings together academics and researchers with expertise in philanthropy, nonprofit organisations, and the social economy.

Also at QUT, the Library provides free access to a rich resource of case studies, research, how-to guides and reports for nonprofits and philanthropists, called The QUT Community Collection for grant seekers, fundraisers and philanthropists. This Collection was made possible by the QUT Library being granted ‘cooperating collection’ status by the Foundation Center in New York. It provides public access to:

  • Grantmaker directories (both for Australia and internationally)
  • Books on fundraising and nonprofit management
  • Foundation Center electronic databases (so it is possible to see which US foundations for instance support in Australia in the different cause areas and get their contact details, history of grants into this country and so on).

Go to the QUT Community Collection for grantseekers, fundraisers and philanthropists or visit in person at QUT’s Gardens Point Campus.

Guide to writing a Budget Priorities Statement

QCOSS has produced a guide to assist organisations to seek additional funding for programs or projects in their local communities. This short step-by-step guide explains the process for preparing a budget priorities statement.

A budget priorities statement is different to an election ask. It is an annual submission written by your organisation that asks for money to be allocated for a purpose that you think the government should prioritise.

So, a good time to ask for money is when government is preparing its budget for the next financial year.

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