People's fear of asking for help on how to develop community activities or writing grant applications could be holding back potentially healthier, happier communities.

“Many projects or spaces have a cost and this can deter activities that would benefit the community from going ahead. Grants are an excellent way to fund these activities and improve community well-being,” said Research and Tender Coordinator Tom McCammont from Capital Region Community Services.

“A great example is the Arts gallery in the Belconnen Community Centre. This facility provides artists with the opportunity to display works at the lowest cost possible. Unfortunately, maintenance of the facility still has cost. Many funding bodies, like the ACT Government, commercial organisations or large not-for-profits recognize the benefit of amenities like this and want to help and financial assistance is offered through grants,” he said.

Organisations like ours exist to help develop and create happier, rewarding communities and can not only assist in submitting grant applications, it also has expertise and resources to help individuals and community groups to develop and deliver their own projects.

Executive Manager of Strategy and Impact Heidi Prowse OAM said it is common that people do not feel confident in asking for help.

"We'll help you develop your idea by listening and engaging in your community, finding out what's needed and including the community in the journey," said Mrs Prowse.

"Things like arts and culture events, festivals and volunteer events increase a sense of belonging, they reduce loneliness and social isolation, improve a person's mood, reduce stress, increase physical activity, there are just so many benefits to having busy community halls and galleries," said Mrs Prowse.

We want to see people getting out and meeting new people, perhaps seeing old faces, there's plenty of research that highlights the mental health benefits of social interaction," she said.

"I'd love to see more and more community events popping up and I invite the public to approach us and ask for help whether it's a grant application or for advice on expanding and improving the places we live in." she said.

Mr McCammont provided some clear points to remember when considering a grant application:

1) Applying for a grant is an evolving process. You made need to adjust your project based on factors you have not considered. It is also important to consider the grant review process that, depending on the grant or funding body, can take anywhere between 4 to 16 weeks (or longer!) to notify you of success.

2) When developing your pitch, don’t be afraid to contact retailers, contractors etc. Ask for quotes/ invoices early to attach to your grant application, this strengthens your pitch and gives you a grounded perspective of potential costs.

3) Like doing your taxes for the first time, grant applications may seem daunting, but after some experience, you will find the process simpler than you first thought. Complexity will range from grant to grant and is generally based on funding. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those with more experience or to the funding body itself.

4) Grant’s, while useful, are generally competitive. Your project might not be funded this time, but that doesn’t mean your project or application wouldn’t be funded in the future or by a different grant.

“I can understand the barriers our community can face in seeking support for their idea. I want them to know they are not alone. Right now many of our community halls and art centres are empty. Together we can reinvigorate them and reconnect by doing the things we are passionate about," said Mrs Prowse.

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