Trends in giving grants to events in Australia

Grant funding offers incredible support to events and festivals. Events cost a lot of money, and grants are important sources of funds to pay for marketing, entertainment, and even infrastructure.

However, many grants are only available for not-for-profit organisations. And events that are heavily reliant on grants could be hit hard at the last minute from one year to the next with a sudden lack of funding for a critical expense, having a dramatic effect on the event’s quality or attendance (and the stress levels of the committee!).

More for-profit event managers are starting up events which need seed funding and support but as private companies they are not eligible for most grants. However, their company structure could have an effect on this. For example, a company limited by guarantee is a non-profit company where the event organiser can be paid a salary as an event expense.  

Both events managed for profit and by not-for-profits need to explore all avenues of revenueincluding crowd funding, sponsorship, ticketing, merchandise sales, advertising revenue, and creating partnerships for elements of the event such as media partners for marketing.

It’s worth event committees considering what do they need grant funding for. Grants require a lot of time and work, both in application and managing the grant reporting, which also requires manpower - when a lot of committees struggle with insufficient volunteers and volunteer burnout. We would recommend not creating something just to fill the requirements of a grant, as this creates more work.


Grant Trends in Australia

Interesting insights into trends in the billions of dollars distributed across Australia in grants each year was recently published in Grants in Australia: Annual research findings for Australian grantseekers and grantmakers, July 2017

  • Local government is becoming a more important source of grants than state governments, and is a particularly important source for small organisations.

  • Corporates and philanthropic sources are providing fewer funding opportunities.  

  • Not-for-profit grantseekers are reporting increasing success, whether that’s because more grants are available, or organisations are getting better at winning grants.

  • Multi-year grants and grants for core costs are getting harder to get, despite campaigns to encourage more of this type of funding.

  • Very few grantseekers are invited to provide feedback to grant providers. And very few grant providers provide feedback to unsuccessful applicants - a key pain point for grantseekers.

It is difficult for volunteers to have the time necessary to take advantage of all the opportunities that exist, so many events miss out on grant funding.

Keys for volunteer-based committees include

  • having a system for grant writing

  • spreading the various elements of grant applications amongst the whole committee so that one person doesn’t get left with all the work

  • focusing on grants that are a great fit for your event for the best chance of success

A huge amount of time is wasted on applications that are started but then abandoned. More than half of not-for-profits are starting applications but then not submitting them.

To make sure you have everything you need for grant applications, create and keep updated documents that you typically would need as attachments for any applications, and have them easy to access by all committee members. If you want to put in a grant submission for infrastructure, for example, as soon as your committee has made the decision to build, start gathering site plans, quotes, needs analyses, permissions to build, and everything else that will be required for an application.

Grantseekers usually have to fund their own grant outcomes measurement activities and reporting. Make sure you gather statistics before, during and after your event to show the benefits of the grant. If you don’t do this from the start of the project, it will become increasingly difficult to work backwards and will add a lot of pressure to the acquital process.

Read our article on how to measure your event's economic impact.


Keeping up with which grants are open

A great source of info on which grants are open for Queensland events (including info on federal grants) is Indigo Gold which has a free list of grants over $10,000 released every month, as well as a subscription-based list of grants under $10,000 ($75/year). Some of the smaller grants don’t require a lot of work, and the little amounts add up.


Other federal and state grant finders include

Name of Grant Finder



Federal Government Grant Finder

Funding Centre 

National grants for not-for-profits 

ACT Tourism

SA Tourism

TAS Tourism

WA Tourism

NSW Tourism 

NSW Regional Arts 

QLD Tourism

VIC Tourism


Consider searching for non-tourism grants relevant to your event, such as grants for sports, for arts (most events have musical entertainment), as well as grants for involving the community or disadvantaged groups, for the environment, for building leadership capacity, etc.

Join rEvents Hub to stay updated on when relevant grant applications for events open up and when the closing date is coming up!

We'd love to hear which grant/s have been of most value to your event and why. Please leave a comment.

Cristy HoughtonComment