Improving NPS Grounds
Prepared by Elly Cowan


1. Tips for writing grant applications

2. List of community groups

3. List of Grants

4. List of improvements needed

Tips for writing grant applications


TIP: 1 Bid Writing Basics

Some people believe that good writing is the key to good proposals. To a large extent this is true. Funding bodies would agree to this point, as:

  • Some applications are rejected because they contain poor ideas
  • Most applications are rejected because they contain good ideas poorly presented

Try to apply the good practice rules contained within this resource when you come to write a small grant application for your outdoor/playground project.

TIP 2: Use Plain English
  • Do not be tempted to go over board with jargo
  • Write in clear, bold sentences rather than long difficult to read prose

Example: “High quality learning environments are a necessary pre-condition for facilitation and enhancement of the on going learning process”

OR WRITTEN IN PLAIN ENGLISH… “Children need good schools”

See also:

TIP 3: Use Active Language Not Passive Language

Active language engages the reader. It is persuasive and positive and convinces the funder that there is a project about to happen; How to write actively

  • This project will…
  • We expect to…
  • This project is necessary because…

DON’T write passively

  • This project aims to…
  • It is our hope that…
  • If this project didn’t happen…
TIP 4: Avoid Assumptions

Never assume that a funding body, whether local, regional or national, is familiar with your community, your school, the geographical area, local issues or your educational track record/reputation. Always include a context for your project that demonstrates your expertise as a school and the need for the project.

TIP 5: The Acronym

“Children with SEN need additional learning opportunities beyond those provided through the NC. The newly adapted ICT facilities will enable pupils on the SENIMS register to compete on equal terms, and complete the transition between KS2 and KS3.”


This sentence works just as well if you write:

“Pupils with special educational needs will benefit from access to specialist computer software. Their progress and attainment will be monitored over a three year period.” If you are going to use acronyms within your application include a glossary.

TIP 6: How to Sound Successful

Fundraising success can have a domino effect. It is infectious. Success breeds success for a number of reasons. Schools that have been awarded grants from a range of sources automatically earn a reputation with other funders. Success also demonstrates that other funders have confidence in the school. And, funds can be ‘matched’ against other funds to increase your chances.

Remember, success sells more than sympathy, so present a positive image of your school and your future plans to the funder.

  • Demonstrate that funds will represent a shrewd investment for the funder
  • State the impact of your work, who will benefit and how you will prove it
  • Spell out the benefit of future work and refer to your track record of managing external funds
  • Demonstrate and list past successes
  • In more qualitative terms, be upbeat, self-confident, and creative
  • Think about that crucial first impression – how can you provide a punchy first paragraph to give a strong impression of your project. If you can’t communicate a belief in what you do then how can you expect a funder to be enthused?
TIP 7: Remember to Tell a Story

We all relate to, and remember stories better than abstracted concepts. Good stories are about people – human interest grips us all. People are the best carriers of vision and ideas; and, ultimately, funds are made available for the benefit of people not organisations. Use personal examples. And ask yourself, does your application draw out benefits that will be made to people, whether parents, pupils, staff or the wider community?

TIP 8: Tips for Layout and Presentation

Assessors tend to adopt a critical reading style when appraising applications, helping them to skim and review a bid. The following writing techniques will improve the critical review of your application. Technique When to Use Why?

Bold Type – To emphasise words It is easier to read than italics, underlining or capitals HEADINGS – Place them directly into your text to break up and identify the main ideas you will cover They act like a table of contents and draw the reader’s eye to the key ideas

1. Numbered Lists

When items need to be examined in a specific sequence, such as project objectives They give a sense of immediacy

  • Bulleted lists

Bulleted lists When all items are equally important, such as an evaluation plan. Different formats for bullets can be used ie “” to list benefits. Give an impression of a well planned project Ragged margins Throughout the narrative text of the application Easier to track from one line to the next if the right hand margin is left ragged and right justified Sans serif typeface Serif typeface There is a lot of debate amongst fundraisers over typeface preference! Arial is widely favoured for ease on the eye. Sans serif typefaces (Verdana, Arial, Tahoma) are clearer to read. Serif typefaces such as Times New Roman and Courier are more “traditional” and have small strokes that finish off the main stroke of the letter.

TIP 9: Provide Evidence

The evidence you can use within grant applications falls into main two categories; school and community. You can use evidence to present a picture of your school to a funding body and to support your case for funding. Never assume that anyone knows about your school’s reputation (good or bad), or details about the local area and its needs. As a minimum you should have the following information, statistics and data to hand about your school:

  • Free school meal data – the percentage of FSM pupils
  • Absenteeism and exclusions – the absentee rate/level as compared to national average
  • League tables – to show fall/rise in educational attainment
  • OFSTED reports –use direct quotes from recent reports on attainment, building inspections and facilities to support your argument
  •  Anti-bullying, behaviour management strategies in place
  • Building capacity and age of school building – may indicate overcrowding

See also:

As a minimum you should have the following information, statistics and data to hand about your local community:

Census data

  • Labour market data – is there a high level of unemployment in your area?
  • Index of Multiple deprivation – see box below
  • For rural schools, the Countryside Agency’s Ward Level Definition of Rural Areas
  • Population statistics – in particular ethnicity profile
  • Neighbourhood statistics – e.g. household/car ownership
  • Household/resident surveys – contact local organisations to find out what consultations have been carried out in your area

See also:

TIP 10: How to Demonstrate the Difference you will make

Most grant application forms you’ll come across will ask you the following question;

What difference will the grant make?

To answer this question effectively let’s assume you are applying for a small grant to start an after school dance club. Try to adopt the writing style used in example 3. 4. or 5. Answer 5. Gives the best evidence!

1. The pleading and ineffectual answer X Q. What difference do you hope the grant will make? A. The project would not be possible without your support. We would not be able to meet the needs of pupils interested in contemporary dance.

2. The jargon heavy answer X Q. What difference do you hope the grant will make? A. The contemporary dance scene is a great way to show young people diversity in action. This project will promote cultural diversity through group discussion and participation in world music.

3. The concise and creative answer Q. What difference do you hope the grant will make? A. The idea came from pupils who spend time listening to R & B and watching music videos. Pupils will get the chance to be fit, have fun, and learn about new dance forms from a trained dancer.

4. The personal and local relevance answer Q. What difference do you hope the grant will make? A. A dance group of up to 20 pupils will perform at a Community festival in mid-2012. They will choreograph moves, design costumes and choose a name for the group. It is hoped that the group will go on to perform at other community venues.

5. The evaluation based answer Q. What difference do you hope the grant will make? A. We will arrange peer group auditions at the end of the project to increase pupil confidence and performance ability. • 20 pupils attended • 1 artist in residence • 1 new after school club • 3 performancesHelping you to Research More Funding Bodies

FREE (or cheap) online resources include: (clunky to use but good coverage. Free) (regular updates on new funding streams. Basic alerts are free) (monthly e-newsletter covering new funding streams £25 for annual subscription)

Subscription resources include: (£175+VAT annual subscription for 1 user only. FREE trial available) (£99+VAT annual subscription. FREE trial available)

Both cover EU funders, UK government, UK grant-making trusts and lottery funders

Your local Community Foundation will be knowledgeable about funders in your area. There are over 60 CFs in the UK

List of community groups who have been/ will be contacted and asked to contribute to NPS grounds:

ANL Landscapes

Brightside landscapes


Garden Express

Hargraves’ Nursery, Dural

Hornsby Landscape Supplies

Hornsby Men’s Shed

Hornsby Shire Council/ Ku-ring-gai Council

Native plant nursery, Cumberland State Forest

Parkers Nursery Turramurra

Spire Landscapes

Swane’s Nursery, Dural

List of funding opportunities available for work on NPS Grounds:

1. Australia Post

2. Bunnings : Bunnings website

3. Coca-cola foundation (

4. COLEs (see YATES below)

5. Colgate / Palmolive

6. Exxonmobil grants

7. [fundraising catalogue] Garden Express

8. Gardening Australia (competitions)

9. [fundraising catalogue] Gardens 4 Kids:

10. Hornsby MEN’s SHED movement

11. NIKE

12. NSW Government:

a. Community grants:

b. Environmental grants:


13. Ian Potter Foundation

14. Myer Foundation – educational grants (Applications will be accepted from government schools)

15. National Geographic

16. SUEZ community grants

17. Teachers Bank – Teachers funding

18. Telstra Kids fund

19. Toyota

20. Twenty Million Trees project

21. Woolworths:

22. Yates/COLES:

List of key focus areas around the school and suggestions for improvements: Area

Suggested Improvement

Suggested funding

Lower playground play equipment

Replace some equipment


Lower Playground softfall and edging

Replace/construct edging


Lower playground retaining wall

Complete planting


Back gate entry

Construct raised garden bed


Dirt slope outside 3L

Build ‘bush steps’


Lower playground garbage depot

Construct birch-tree screen and compost bins

Bunnings/ANL Landscapes/Nurseries

Lower playground grassed area

Planting and upkeep of lawn

Junior K-2 Classes?

Middle Playground grassed area

Planting and upkeep of lawn

Intermediate 3-4 Classes

Top Playground grassed area

Planting and upkeep of lawn

Senior 5-6 Classes

Garden bed behind year 5-6 Classrooms

Planting and upkeep

Nurseries and bulb donations

Second boat area and Green Team space

Outdoor Classroom

NSW Government Grant

Slope blow basketball courts

Planting and upkeep



Replace/ resurface concrete floor

NSW Government Grant/ Ian Potter Foundation

Lower playground under sails



Garden at front of school (Normanhurst Road)

Tidy and plant


Upper Normanhurst Road garden (gully)

Remove noxious weeds and invasive plants

20 Million Trees

Garden above Hall retaining wall

Plant and tidy


Garden in front of Canteen

Stump grinder/ planting/build posts for a bean tee-pee

Orange tree??


Inspect trees

How often??


Seating under the Crabapple in the lower playground retaining wall area

Build a seat