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Members of the Sector Investment Advisory Committee

Pictured: Members of the Sector Investment Advisory Committee

Learnings from the first round of our new grants

The first rounds of our new Development & Operations and Content grants were hugely competitive: we asked community broadcasting stations to "apply for what you need", and you certainly did!

There were over 700 submissions from 267 applicants to these categories in Round 1 2017/18, requesting almost $20 million in funding support, a 37.6% increase on funds requested than the entire 2016/17 year. In that first round we allocated over $7m to more than 200 community broadcasting organisations.

With such intense demand for funding, a number of proposals were not able to be supported or received just partial support.

The data we have collected about the sector’s needs in that first round is vital information – it provides us with valuable insights into where more support is required.  We are using this information in our fundraising efforts and we are sharing aggregated data with the CBAA and other sector organisations to assist with their advocacy efforts.

We’re supporting some amazing organisations and projects

The list of organisations and activities funded is a snapshot of the vibrancy and diversity of the community broadcasting sector.  From outside broadcasts at community events, to engaging local school students in community radio, from celebrating cultural differences to collaborating to develop technical infrastructure. We are proud to have supported hundreds of stations with essential funding to sustain and develop their services to serve their communities across the country.

> Round 1 2017/18 grant allocations are published here

At a glance, we supported:

 

Allocated in Round 1 2017/18

Organisations with turnover under $100,000
(118 applicants, grants allocated to 96 organisations in this band)

$1.2m (16.5% of total funds allocated, 31% of funds requested from organisations in this band were allocated)

Organisations with turnover between $100,000-$700,000
(106 applicants, grants allocated to 91 organisations in this band)

$3.1m (43% of funds allocated, 36% of funds requested from organisations in this band were allocated)

Organisations with turnover between $700,000-$1.5m
(26 applicants, grants allocated to 15 organisations in this band)

$2.2m (30% of funds allocated, 42% of funds requested from organisations in this band were allocated)

Organisations with turnover over $1.5m
(17 applicants, grants allocated to 8 organisations in this band)

$0.8m (10.5% of funds allocated, 39% of funds requested from organisations in this band were allocated)

Total

$7.3m

Key learnings from the first round

It was a whole new ball game for everyone

Considering the significant changes to how stations applied for funding support, we think that the high level of engagement in the process was extremely positive.

We want to thank you for your patience and assistance in working with us to iron out the odd first-round wrinkles. We’ve outlined some learnings from the first round below.

The CBF takes pride in maintaining and developing its processes so that they are efficient, effective, independent and transparent – and importantly so that over the long-term the distribution of funding has broad sector benefit.

The CBF will continue to tweak our policy and processes as needs in the sector evolve over time and based on analysis of the application data, sector research and your feedback.

Applicants should seek earlier assistance to make best use of the expertise of the Grants Administrators

61% of applications were submitted on the last day. 

The CBF’s Grants Administrators do a wonderful job of encouraging and assisting applicants to apply, and while the Grants Administrators don’t make the funding decisions, they have a wealth of experience helping applicants and the majority of applicants are not taking full advantage of their expertise.  Speak to them as you apply and they may be able to give you some practical advice about your application.  But with over 700 submissions coming in, please don’t leave it to the last week or two, reach out for help well in advance of the deadline.

How grant applications are considered

When you are preparing your application, remember that your application is being read by your peers – fellow community broadcasters from around the country. Don’t assume that the assessors know the context of your station. The application form is your chance to explain what you hope to do and why, and to explain how your proposal meets the funding objective of the relevant grant category.

Assessors understand that most community broadcasting organisations are under resourced.  Your proposal is being compared with other similar requests – think about what you’re asking for in the context of the assessment criteria published in the guidelines.

There was confusion about how transmission support would be allocated

Some applicants did not realise that the new Development & Operations grant category, which includes funding to support transmission expenses, is competitive. This means that applications are assessed on their merits against the criteria published in the grant guidelines. Not all applicants received funding for their transmission expenses, and for some applicants this came as a shock because we’ve provided non-competitive subsidies in the past.

We think that some of this confusion may have originated from our publication of the outcomes of the CBF Structure & Governance Review which outlined that the transmission support funding from the Australian Government would continue to be identified as a discrete funding allocation from Government. This means we receive specific funding to support the costs of transmitting – but it doesn’t mean that the CBF allocates this funding in the same way as it used to be under the former, non-competitive Transmission Operational Subsidies.

What will the CBF do?

  • We will make it clearer in grant alerts, promotions, guidelines and application forms that Development & Operations grants are competitive.

There was a lot of time spent on applications that could not be supported due to insufficient funds

The huge increase in demand was unexpected. We are concerned about the unintended consequences of the sector spending too much time on applications that just cannot receive support due to insufficient funds being available. We know that almost every station has a need for funding support through our grant programs from time-to-time, but we want to be more up-front about the likelihood of your chance of success so that you can make informed decisions about how much time you should spend on your applications.   

Regrettably, being a completely new grant process we were unable to publish the levels of funds available for different purposes in the first grant round.  Past experience shows that having this information available tempers expectations producing more realistic funding requests. We did publish this information in the second round, and we will publish this information in future so that applicants have a better understanding of the chance of success for various core support, projects and initiatives.

What will the CBF do?

  • We are looking into other ways to ensure that applicants prioritise their needs more effectively and avoid unnecessary work. This may include limiting the number of individual proposals per applicant per round.  We’ll be carefully thinking about how to get the balance right – we don’t want to discourage or disadvantage stations that are undertaking lots of exciting development and content projects.  We’ll publish information about any changes to the guidelines as we reach our decisions about this. 
  • We will help to set expectations by publishing the funds available in the grant guidelines, and we’ll note what funds are available to support specific purposes.

Some stations felt that our consideration of their overall financial position was unfair

In coming to decisions about providing funding, one of the things considered by the Grants Advisory Committees was the applicant organisation’s financial position – this has always been the case for our competitive grants.

Some stations were concerned that consideration of their financial position was not fair or transparent.

What will the CBF do?

  • In Round 2 we included more space and prompts to give applicants more opportunity to give greater context about their organisation’s financial position, and made it clearer to applicants that responses should include information about why you need the funding support. 
  • We will publish information in the FAQs about how Grants Advisory Committees analyse financial statements and how that affects your application.

We need to keep thinking about the best ways to support ongoing and shared programs

Given broader changes to the industry, support for news and other influential content shared across multiple stations is a strategic matter for the sector, and requires further consideration and dialogue.

We didn’t fund any multi-year content projects in the first round, but we are interested in continuing to develop our ideas about how multi-year funding support might work best to support content production in the long term.

What will the CBF do?

  • We will consult with Sector Representative Organisations, program sharing platforms and program-makers about how the CBF can best support programs that are shared across multiple stations.
  • In consultation with the sector, we will develop a framework for how we can continue to fund programs that benefit the sector as a whole, how we can balance that ongoing support with funding for program development, and how multi-year funding support might work.

What next?

The Sector Investment Grants Advisory Committee is examining our grant policies and practices and thinking about what we can do to improve our processes for the next major grant round in early 2018.

Following this first year of applications under the new grant categories, we’ve identified a number of things we can do to help make the process clearer, more straight-forward and simpler for applicants.  We’ve already implemented some improvements to our internal processes to help our grant assessors and Grants Advisory Committees with the mammoth task of assessing the many hundreds of applications we receive.

Over the next few months we will be refining the grant guidelines and application forms, and these will be published in advance of the next grant round opening early in 2018.

> You can assist us by joining the team of grant assessors! Nominations are now open.

Round 1 2018/19 key dates

Content grants open 8 January 2018 and close 2pm AEDT Wednesday 7 March 2018.

Development & Operations grants open 8 January 2018 and close 2pm AEDT Wednesday 14 March 2018.