Last year the Eaglehawk Junior Football Club was able to support the formation of more girls’ teams because council gave them a community grant for essential equipment and uniforms.

Council invests about $1 million each year into community grants.

They say it’s better to give than receive and council enjoys providing the grants knowing they help to make a difference.

At last week’s council meeting, council endorsed a new Community Granting Policy.

The new model places the community at the core and makes it easier to apply for grants and to report back about grant outcomes.

From July 1 this year there will be six types of grant opportunities:

• Small grants – up to $3000, apply at any time

• Medium grants –up to $10,000, open three times a year

• Large grants – up to $50,000, distributed over two years and apply biennially

• Community Group Essentials grants – up to $3000, apply any time

• Bendigo Town Hall Community Use Subsidy Program – apply any time

• Social Innovation/Transformation grants – apply annually

Most of the former four grants programs had very traditional, set categories. Some categories were oversubscribed and others were undersubscribed, so there was an uneven distribution of funds. The new model ensures a fairer split of the money.

Going forward, it won’t just be not-for-profits that can apply for grants.

Businesses increasingly want resources for the purpose of doing social good, which they would otherwise struggle to do within their existing means.

It is clear that community groups also need additional support, for example funding to pay for strategic planning, insurance or venue hire for meetings.

The new model will be able to take some of the pressure off needing to fundraise for these back-of-house essentials.

Council is also keen to encourage innovation and new ideas.

There is funding available to support both traditional projects and different ways of thinking.

The new model will provide funding for projects that seek to try new ways of tackling community challenges and opportunities, which would otherwise not have been possible without a grant.

When consulting with stakeholders about the new policy, many said that they valued the assessment process for grants, whereby people independent of Council sit on panels to assess the applications and make recommendations. This process will continue.

The number one question in endorsing the funding allocations will be does this project align with or advance our vision for Greater Bendigo to be the world’s most liveable community, and does it deliver on the goals of the Community Plan?’

If the answer is yes, then council looks forward to receiving an application from your community group or business.