Developing your proposal

Information about preparing an application, how to apply and the assessment process.

Publication date
March 1, 2024
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We offer a range of information, guidance, support and resources to help you prepare and submit a successful application.

Preparing your application

Discuss your idea and seek feedback

The Grants Manager can provide feedback on your project proposal and confirm it meets the grants criteria.

Contacting the Grants Manager to discuss your idea may save you time in applying for something that is not eligible or unlikely to be funded.

We might also be able to connect you with past grant recipients, organisations which may be suitable to partner with or members of our team who can provide guidance and expertise.

Getting early feedback on your proposal can help to strengthen your application giving you the best chance of success.

Confirm your eligibility

We seek applications from community legal and not-for-profit organisations. Check any specific eligibility criteria for the grant you are applying for.

Non-legal not-for-profit organisations must partner with a legal organisation to ensure accurate legal information is provided to the audience group.

We only fund organisations – individuals are not able to apply.

Proposals must address civil legal needs of the Victorian community or improve knowledge or information about the Victorian justice system.

Grant exclusions

We will not fund:

  • studies to obtain a degree or diploma
  • government organisations with the exception of independent statutory bodies
  • recurrent or core operating costs
  • purchase of major items of equipment
  • international travel costs
  • commercial or profit-making activities
  • litigation of any kind
  • projects that primarily support political activity and lobbying
  • projects that do not primarily benefit Victorians
  • work started or costs incurred prior to grant approval
  • previously unsuccessful grant applications unless invited to reapply by VLF.

Review the application questions

We provide Knowledge Grant and Community Legal Grant application questions to prepare your responses before applying.

Engage project partners

We encourage applications submitted in partnership.

You may choose to partner with another organisation or agency that works with the target group or has an interest in an area of law.

Another option is to engage a partner that brings specific skills and expertise to the project. The application form asks you about the role of any partners.

The applicant is responsible for reporting and financial management.

Budget items

Your costs will depend on your project activities and might include staffing and project coordination, consultant fees, volunteer expenses, production costs, translation or interpreter costs, software or subscription fees, and a contribution towards overheads.

Expenditure should be itemised and descriptions provided for each. Where possible please attach quotes or examples of previous costings for external suppliers for example, design or consultant fees.

We have an example budget with the types of items and level of details to include when submitting your application.

Submitting your application

Applications must be submitted via the SmartyGrants online platform.

We use SmartyGrants to manage our grant application, reporting and acquittal processes. When you are ready to submit your application, follow the link on the grant page which will take you to the SmartyGrants site.

Assessment process

The Grants Subgroup of the VLF Board makes funding decisions on Knowledge Grant and Community Legal Grant applications. The Executive Director makes decisions on Everyday Legal Grant applications.

All applications are reviewed by the Grants Manager and Executive Director.

Knowledge Grant applications are also reviewed by members of our Research Team.

We always receive more applications than we can fund. Generally, we fund four projects from each round.

Applications are assessed against object of Victoria Law Foundation, grant priority areas and guiding principles. The following items are also considered as when assessing grant applications:

  • identification of the legal issue
  • a clear description of the difference the project will make
  • evidence that the project is filling a gap
  • demonstration that the applicant has appropriate experience, skills and resources to undertake the project
  • a plan to share project findings, resources, information and/or insights with the community or across the sector
  • realistic and detailed budget items.

Grant obligations

All successful applicants enter into a funding agreement with Victoria Law Foundation. Other requirements include submitting a final report on completion of the project and acknowledging the support of Victoria Law Foundation.

See the Manage your grant page for more information.

Developing your project

We have developed the following information to provide further guidance and help you prepare your project proposal.

VLF resources

We offer Plain language and Enhancing Engagement workshops for people producing community legal information.

Our resources for the legal profession can help improve your communication and engagement skills.

Our Research Network events can help you to keep you up to date with new research and initiatives in the community legal education and access to justice space.

Data collection and ethics standards

It is your responsibility to conduct ethical research and data collection practices when undertaking any research project funded through our Knowledge Grant program.

If you are partnering with an academic body you may choose to go through their ethics process. If not, you will need to establish an alternative process such as forming a reference group or internal governance committee to approve the research activity and guide the project

We have developed the following guidance, information and templates to help you.

Overarching standards

Confidentiality, informed consent and secure data collection and storage

Ethics checklist

Sample consent forms

Process for ethics approval

If you are partnering with an academic body you may choose to go through their ethics process.

If not, you will need to establish an alternative process such as forming a reference group or internal governance committee to approve the research activity and guide the project.

For more information or guidance, please contact the Grants Manager.

Tips to improve your application

Online resources

Tips on the best ways to share your research findings

How to use case studies effectively and source them ethically

5-step guide to making sure your writing meets the fundamentals of plain language

Tips on the best ways to share your research findings

Keep in touch

Email or send an online message to our teams.