Fundraising and Grants

One of the greatest problems of any voluntary organisation is how to pay for the extras that can provide better facilities for the members without the necessity of increasing subscriptions whenever something comes up. The solution will enable the organisation not only to hold onto its members but may even lead to an increase in membership with consequent benefits to all. Whatever the method of raising funds that is tried, it is vital that the ownership of any scheme is wholeheartedly endorsed and supported by the members. Thus the reasons and aims of any scheme presented must be made clear to all.

  • There are five main ways of obtaining this extra cash flow. Some are short term and others long term.

Active Fund Raising

  • This may take many forms and may involve a number of helpers for a short period or less helpers over a longer period. Examples – cake stalls, jumble sales, book stalls or a small raffle with a very limited number of tickets as opposed to a Raffle on a much grander scale.
  • The most lucrative is the big raffle which, of course, is subject to the appropriate Lotteries Act with its stringent rules and regulations. Provided the Raffle is properly planned, controlled and executed, this can be a big source of income. Once a year is quite sufficient and members should be asked (on their joining or renewal forms) if they are willing to sell a book of tickets ($2.00 per ticket in a book of not more than five tickets has been found to be a very successful formula). It is a good idea to have a name for the raffle – possibly related to the subsequent use of the funds. An excellent idea is to have an Early Bird Bookseller’s Prize. To qualify for this Prize, the completely sold book butts and remittance must be returned to the Promoter by a certain date. This helps the cash flow and soothes the nerves of the promoter who is anxiously waiting to cover costs and the prize monies!!


  • General – Cash Donations of $2.00 or more may be allowable as an Income Tax deduction to the Donor – see AFFHO Information Sheet No 4 for full details. The opportunity to include a donation can be made as an addition to Membership renewal forms. Donors should receive some mention in the respective Newsletter/Journal unless anonymity is specifically requested.
  • Specific Gifts: Donations of a book/s or a microfiche may be encouraged. It does no harm to recognise such donations in Library Accessions and some societies include a plate/label inside the book cover stating by who donated the book.
  • Bequests: There may be some members who would be prepared to remember their society in their will or by the addition of a codicil. It is worth a mention in the Newsletter/Journal – perhaps the society’s Honorary Legal Adviser would be willing to draw up a suitable clause for inclusion?


  • Generally defined as a contribution in cash or kind from an external (commercial) source for all or part of a project.
  • Usually the sponsor will expect some form of recognition of his contribution by the society being sponsored – which after all is not unreasonable. Details should be agreed beforehand to save any embarrassment to the society if the sponsor requires something which the former is not happy about.

Direct Appeals to Members

  • These are usually only resorted to when the reason for the appeal has not been budgeted for and the matter is of some urgency – such as the AFFHO Save the Census Fighting Fund in 1996.


  • If it can be determined who, what, where and why a Grant is being offered then the secret is to make sure that the application form is completed correctly and lodged in sufficient time to be considered. Remember the saying – you’ve got to be in to win!
  • The appearance and quality of the application is most important. Since Grantors do not like handing funds over to unincorporated bodies, make sure that your Society is Incorporated (see AFFHO Information Sheet No 1) Check that the society’s letterhead includes this fact and ensure that the presentation is professional i.e. well typed and legible with no spelling mistakes!
  • Sometimes the Grantor may wish to sight the Constitution, Certificate of Incorporation and last set of Audited Annual Accounts of your society. Make sure that the request is supported with the full details of why the funds are needed. Include details of Committee members with contact addresses, phone/fax numbers, email addresses, etc. Do not place your order before you get the grant – it might be refused!

Who offers Grants

  • Every State, Territory or Country has a list of organisations and funds who make Grants under certain conditions and to certain categories of recipients. Look in the White Pages of the Telephone Directory under ‘Grants’ and start there. Of course there are Federal, State and Local Government bodies all of whom have funds at their disposal for various community purposes.
  • Do not forget the Lotteries Commission in your State for Community Funding/Grants. The Premier’s Department in some States may have a Special Fund. Do not overlook the Capital City Convention Bureau if a Congress/Conference that may attract persons from other States or from Overseas is being held.
  • Whilst many grants will not be applicable to your society, there may be some that may come within your operating parameters.


  • This organisation provides a single access point to all possible sources of support available in the cultural sector and brings information on the wide array of cultural grants, support programs as well as industry training and development programs offered by the three levels of government and their agencies as well as assistance through corporations, foundations and non-government bodies.
  • The database can be accessed through either:
    • Telephone on freecall 1800 241 247 (10.00a.m. until 6.00 p.m. EST),
    • Internet or email.

The Federation of Australian Historical Societies Inc

  • This organisation publishes annually a booklet called Funding Database (ISBN 0 9595714 4 2) price $35.00 plus postage. It lists all National and State (by State) Agencies involved with grants for all categories of things. Internet or email.
  •  Correspondence to: FAHS Database, 43 Phillips Street Alexandria NSW 2015