Partnerships on grant applications, how important are they exactly?

What is a grant partnership?

A grant partnership refers to a collaborative arrangement between two or more organisations that join forces to pursue a common goal or project using grant funding. While it is true that grant applications can be time-consuming and require extensive documentation, it is essential not to overlook a valuable and often required component: finding a project partner.

The trend towards collaborating partnerships continues to grow in the grant world. We have worked on several grants over the years and nearly all of them relied on some form of partnership collaboration, such as another SME, non-profit organisation, or academic institution. It may be a requirement of the grant agency that a portion of the award is given to the external partnering organisation, or it may be compulsory to receive outside financial contributions, such as in kind offerings. So why are partnerships on grants so important, and why do funding agencies advocate it?

Grant funding partnership

Why grant partnership is important?

Well, there are many reasons why partnering with another organization adds significant value to a grant application but key benefits include shared cost and complexities, broader support, new audience reach, and maximised resources. By forming a grant partnership, organisations can leverage their collective strengths, expand their capabilities, and enhance the overall quality of the project proposal. Collaborating with a partner offers several advantages:

  • Complementary Expertise: A partner may bring skills, knowledge, or experience that complements your organisation’s strengths. This collaboration allows for a more comprehensive and well-rounded project proposal.
  • Shared Resources: Partnering organisations can combine their resources, including financial, technological, or human resources, to enhance project implementation. This shared pool of resources increases the chances of success and sustainability.
  • Increased Credibility: Grant funders often view partnerships favorably as they demonstrate a collaborative and cooperative approach. A strong partnership can boost the credibility of your grant application and improve the likelihood of securing funding.
  • Expanded Reach and Impact: Partnering with another organisation helps broaden the project’s reach and impact. By tapping into each other’s networks, the partnership can access a larger audience and achieve a more significant outcome.

While grant applications require focused energy on the narrative and supporting documents, it is crucial to dedicate time and effort to finding a suitable project partner. Partnering with the right organisation can greatly enhance the strength and competitiveness of your grant application, leading to increased chances of success in securing the desired funding.

What mistakes we have made?

Unfortunately, I did not prioritise partnership collaborations over the actual grant writing on previous applications. It pains me to admit it now, but I viewed them as nothing more than a requirement of the grant, a nuisance, in a way. Did we end up finding a partner in time? Of course. Were they necessarily the best choice for the project? In all honesty, no. Partnerships were forged with external parties who we already had an existing, trusted relationship with. They weren’t necessarily the best fit for the project overall, but they were fine to feature on the application, as in, it ticked the box anyway.

But is it enough? No, in simple terms. ‘Program Partners’ came in at number 3 of the top 10 things assessors look for when evaluating a grant proposal.

  • Are they experienced in the project programme?
  • Do they have the right skills?
  • Will they share the same project visions?
  • Do they have the resources to commit to a long-term project plan?

These are the type of questions you should be asking yourself when seeking your partner, because the assessors will be asking the same.

I cannot emphasise enough how important your partner is to the overall success of your grant application. So, where do you start? Below, are my top three tips for building and sustaining partnerships for grant proposals.

1. Identify Your Partners Early.

Don’t wait until you are up against a grant application deadline to develop your partnerships. It will take time to allocate potential partners, discuss your project, and figure out who will be the best fit. Remember, the project could span months or even years, so it’s important to partner with someone you know you can trust. Additionally, it often a requirement from funders that you document your partners’ role and commitment to the project by including formal letters of support and/or a list of their project contributions and associated costs to the application, which can be a time-consuming process.

2. Prepare a project plan.

Draft a project plan and identify where you need to outsource support. Conversations can then be had with external parties who can help with that specific requirement of the project, and subsequently benefit from the best skills and expertise on the market. This will go a long way in convincing agencies to fund your project, by demonstrating a committed partnership to each project milestone.

3. Keep partners engaged throughout the project period.

It is important to involve your partners early on as you implement your grant-funded project and keep them engaged throughout the project period. Sustaining these relationships may open doors for future grant opportunities, resource sharing and no-cost assistance from agencies across your community and beyond.

Maximise your chances of securing grant funding

Grant partnerships are a vital component of successful grant applications, offering numerous benefits and opportunities. If you’re looking to maximise your chances of securing grant funding and need assistance in forming strategic partnerships, we’re here to help. Check out our Funding & Investment page to learn how we can support your grant funding process. Together, we can create a compelling proposal and increase the impact of your project. Don’t miss out on the advantages of grant partnerships – reach out to us today!

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