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Investing in Women Funding Program Grant Guidelines

More than $2.3 million has been awarded to over 91 projects through the Investing in Women program since 2013. Women NSW has delivered eight rounds of Investing in Women funding to enhance women’s economic opportunities and leadership in NSW.  More information about successful projects is available on the Women NSW website.

What projects is the NSW Government looking to fund?

The Investing in Women funding program seeks to fund innovative projects that will:

  1. Improve women’s financial wellbeing and security and support diverse and flexible employment opportunities for women and girls
  2. Promote and support a holistic approach to women’s health across the lifespan
  3. Support women’s engagement through social networks, access to information and building confidence using diverse representation of women and girls.

Projects should be guided by current NSW and Australian policy in this area, including the NSW Women’s Strategy (2018-2022)

NSW Premier’s Priorities, NSW Jobs for the Future Report, and Towards 2025: Boosting Australian Women’s Workforce Participation.

Focus Priority areas

The NSW Government has identified the following focus areas – aligning with the NSW Women’s Strategy 2018-2022 - to guide project design. Your project should fit within one of these priority areas and can be guided by the goals for these focus areas.

1. Economic Opportunity and Advancement

Projects should contribute to improving women’s financial wellbeing and security, and support diverse and flexible employment opportunities for women and girls.

For example, projects that:

  • Create employment opportunities across occupations and industries where women remain under-represented.
  • Contribute to women’s economic independence and security
  • Reduce barriers to employment
  • Promote and support women’s leadership

2. Health and wellbeing

Projects should contribute to promoting and supporting a holistic approach to women’s health across the lifespan. The context is that women’s physical, social and economic potential is maximised when they are healthy and their health needs are addressed.

For example, projects that:

  • Improve access to health information, screening and services
  • Address key health issues for women - NSW Women’s Strategy 2018-2022
  • Promote health and wellbeing of mothers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, young women, women with disability, older women, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LBTIQ) women, women living and/or working in regional NSW

3. Participation and Empowerment

Projects should contribute to supporting women’s engagement through social networks, access to information and building confidence using diverse representations of women and girls.

For example, projects that:

  • Connect women in their communities
  • Engage women in sports and recreation
  • Provide women with access to appropriate information and supports to develop connections and confidence

Priority groups

Projects that specifically target and support one of the following priority groups will be prioritised for funding over other equally ranked projects. Applicants should indicate which priority group the project will primarily target and will be able to select several secondary groups if required.

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  • LBTIQ women
  • Older women
  • Women from CALD backgrounds
  • Women living and/or working in regional NSW
  • Women with disability
  • Young women

How much grant funding can you apply for?

TThe grant program will fund projects according to the three stages of development:




Explore and scope

Up to $25,000

Projects that are at an early stage and organisations are looking to explore and develop a project.

Test and grow

Up to $50,000

Projects that have been scoped and investigated and are ready to be tested or projects that have been tested and are showing positive outcomes and seek testing/piloting on a larger scale.

Replication and sustainability

Up to $100,000

Projects that have been tested and show strong outcomes, have demonstrated ongoing viability and are looking to be taken to the next level of impact and self-sustainability.

Program Reach

Projects will be required to reach a minimum number of beneficiaries or participants to be eligible for funding. This means at least one beneficiary or participant per $500 of project funding. Given the funding allocation range for projects is $5,000 to $100,000, the minimum number of beneficiaries or participants range from 10 to 200 (e.g. a $25,000 grant is required to reach a minimum of 50 people).

What can you spend the grant funding on?

Grant funding can only be used for expenses directly related to the delivery of your project in NSW.

You must clearly outline your proposed expenditure in your application and demonstrate how your project will demonstrate value for money.

The 2021 Investing in Women Funding Program provides recipients with a one-year non-recurrent grant. You must spend the funding and complete the project within 12 months of receiving grant monies.

Restricted uses of funds

Funding is not available for the restricted uses outlined in the table below:

Restricted item


Projects located outside of NSW


Business capital or start-up funding



You cannot use the funds to organise/hold a conference or workshops, or to pay for an individual or group to attend a conference. Any project which includes a conference or workshop component as part of a wider project must fund it from an in-kind contribution.

For the purposes of these guidelines, a conference or workshop is a meeting of a group of people primarily for the purposes of discussing and sharing information on a particular subject or project. This does not include structured, time-limited courses, with practical and clear outcomes, such as a training program or educational course.

Wages and salaries

You cannot use funds to pay a staff member a salary or wages (in part or in full) that they would normally be paid.  The essential difference between a salary and wages is that a salaried person is paid a fixed amount per pay period and a wage earner is paid by the hour.

Staff contributions to the project are expected to be provided in-kind by your organisation.

Operating costs or recurrent expenses

Insurance, leases, bills (mobile phone, electricity), consumables (office supplies, fuel, supplies of food, spare parts) and disposables

Fundraising events designed specifically for the purpose of fundraising for charities or for the organisation


Activities which require participants to pay more than a nominal amount to attend

Any fee or cost to project participants should consider the resulting benefits for each individual, and their capacity to pay. For example, it may not be reasonable to expect a target group of unemployed women, or school aged girls, to contribute to even a discounted fee or contribute to a fee for a course, even if the qualification is valued at significantly more.

General equipment

Such as computers, iPads, or other items not specific to the project.

Capital works

The purchase of, or costs of repair, extension or renovation to, buildings or any form of capital works.

Non-essential costs

Costs that are not essential or not related to the proposed core activity.

Retrospective costs

Funds will not be provided for events that have already taken place or costs incurred prior to the project starting.

Overseas travel cost

Such as the cost of travelling overseas to attend a conference.

Events/projects that are run for solely commercial purposes or benefit

Projects must directly benefit women and/or girls, and not have a commercial focus.

Internal staff/ organisational development

For example, funds cannot be used to provide staff training, such as leadership training for female staff.


Research projects where the sole objectives are research outcomes with no direct tangible benefits to the target group.

Activities and programs that are business as usual

You cannot use funds from the program to fund your usual organisational activities, programs, or functions, including:

  • organisational   costs for the delivery of ongoing services
  • increased   capacity or staffing
  • capital   investments, and/or
  • training for   ongoing service delivery.

Who can apply

Applicants must be a legally constituted Australian-based entity. This includes:

  • Not-for-profit organisations, including community organisations
  • Local councils and shires, including regional organisations of councils and consortia of councils
  • Industry bodies and the private sector working in partnership with the community or government on initiatives directly supporting women and girls.

Not-for-profit bodies are considered to be organisations that are registered and approved as not-for-profit bodies by NSW Fair Trading, Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) or Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC). They can include:

  • charities, trusts and cooperatives that are registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)
  • organisations with Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) or Public Benevolent Institution status
  • not-for-profit companies limited by guarantee and registered in NSW (these must have ACNC registration and or DGR status)
  • associations (registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009 and with NSW Fair Trading)
  • Local Aboriginal Land Councils
  • religious organisations
  • organisations established under an Act of Parliament.

Note: organisations listed on the ACNC Register must have a current and up to date record.

An application must be made by a single organisation that will accept responsibility for the delivery of the project if the application is successful.

Section 355 committees must submit applications under the relevant local council name.

Who is not eligible to apply?

Funding will not be provided to:

  • Individuals or groups of individuals
  • Unincorporated organisations
  • For-profit organisations
  • Sub-contractors – either for program management or for project delivery on behalf of non-eligible organisations.
  • NSW Government or Australian Government agencies or their entities.

Location of applicants and activities

Organisations based outside NSW are not eligible to apply unless they can demonstrate that core business objectives already include project will be run in and benefit the Women in NSW and that the organisation meets all regulatory, business requirements.

Application limits

Previous applicants may re-apply but will need to consider the content of these guidelines in resubmitting an application. If you intend to submit an application that you have previously submitted, but which was unsuccessful, you may wish to contact Women NSW for feedback prior to resubmitting.

Only one application for funding will be accepted per organisation per project.

Assessment criteria

The assessment process is competitive. Your application must clearly demonstrate how your project address the program assessment criteria and compare to other applications from the same electorate. The assessment panel will consider all elements of your project equally.

Please note that there can be no assumed knowledge. The assessment panel can only consider the information provided in your application.

Your application will be assessed against the following criteria:


How your application will be assessed



  • You meet the   applicant legal status requirements.
  • You have   appropriate and current insurance in relation to the proposed project
  • Your project benefits women and/or girls in NSW.
  • You have no   outstanding acquittals due to the Department of Communities and Justice
  • You are not   seeking funding for activities already completed, or due to be completed   before the funding period commences.
  • You do not   already receive NSW Government funding for the project
  • You are not   seeking funding for any of the restricted items as per Table 2.
  • All   applications must include ten percent income from other sources (cash or   in-kind).
  • You have a   business continuity plan in place that will allow you to keep the project   running to June 2022, should operations be affected by COVID-19 (e.g. health   restrictions, requirements to work from home or staff absences).


Relevant and evidence based

Your project clearly outlines how the proposed project will deliver benefits in one of the 3 priority areas

Your project has a clear and well-refined problem statement, that identifies the specific need for women and/or girls that will be resolved through the project.

Your project provides a relevant, feasible and evidence-based proposal for how the project will meet a defined community need.

Your project directly targets and benefits a defined priority group.


Benefits to women and/or girls

Your project outlines the practical ways that women and/or girls will benefit from the project.

Your project outlines how the project will create sustainable change and ongoing benefits for the project target group, and women and/or girls more broadly.

Your project outlines identifiable outcomes and how they will be measured and evaluated.

The proposal has an evaluation strategy with clear metrics for measuring success in achieving identified program outcomes.


Project partnerships and collaboration

Your project proposes meaningful partnerships to support the project, and clearly outlines partner contributions.

Your project demonstrates effective collaboration and partnerships with local community organisations, groups, services, and businesses.


Clear project plan and outcomes

You provide a clear project plan for delivering the project.

The project must demonstrate:

  • specific   timeframes/milestones for each activity/task, and
  • clearly defined   outcomes.


Organisational capacity

Your application demonstrates that the organisation has the appropriate skills and expertise to deliver the project, including prior experience delivering similar project activities and outcomes.

Your project demonstrates capacity to provide ongoing value beyond the funding provided under the Investing in Women program e.g. the development of resources or modules for ongoing or repeat delivery.


Value for money

Your project represents value for money in terms of both overall costs, and the value of the outcomes and benefits that will be delivered.

Your project proposal must outline how many women and girls will benefit from the project. Your application will receive a higher score for this criteria if your project delivers a benefit to a greater number of women compared to a project with similar delivery costs that provides a similar level of benefit, but to only several women.

It is unlikely that applications seeking funding for projects that benefit one recipient will be successful due to the value for money requirement.

Evidence requirements

Projects must be evidence-based. Applicants must be able to demonstrate the evidence for the specific problem (i.e. the need for the intervention), as well as the evidence that the specific intervention is fit for purpose and will address the identified problem.

The evidence for both the problem and intervention should be:

  • Relevant: the evidence is directly related to the problem and intervention.
  • Reliable: the evidence is from a source or person that has knowledge and/or experience related to the problem and intervention. The reliability of evidence is strengthened when it can be supported through different information-gathering methods.
  • Current: the evidence is up to date (to provide a baseline against which change can be measured).
  • Adequate:there is enough evidence to verify the existence and size of the problem, as well as the rigour and effectiveness of the intervention.

The specific problem should be articulated in terms of extent, demographics and location.

Evidence of the problem can be demonstrated through:

  • published data
  • peer-reviewed published research, and/or
  • independent program evaluations.

It is recognised that some innovative solutions may lack a strong evidence base, however, applicants should demonstrate and apply relevant experience, practice wisdom, and correlations with evidence from other areas.

Appendix A contains a non-exhaustive list of sources of evidence.

Data collection

Successful applicants must collect data for the purposes of both contract performance monitoring and evaluation. Before the project starts, you will need to consider what data to collect, and how you will collect the data both at the start of the project and on an ongoing basis. During the contracting stage, and prior to projects commencing, successful applicants will need to develop a written Data Collection Plan. The Plan must specify what data is needed, when and how the data will be collected, and who will collect the data.

Project evaluation

Applicants must factor in evaluation in the project budget and the timeframe for delivering the project. Projects must be completed by June 2022, which includes the evaluation component of the project.

You must include in your application how you will evaluate your project. Projects should be evaluated in terms of both processes and outcomes.

A process evaluation looks at how a project works and whether the project activities have been implemented as intended. An outcome evaluation seeks to evaluate the extent to which a project meets its goals or objectives.

To conduct an evaluation, successful recipients will need to collect and analyse data. A MDS DATA tool has been developed to provide guidance to successful fund recipients under the 2021 round of the Investing in Women Funding Program in collecting data for their projects for both monitoring and evaluation purposes. More details will be provided in the Funding Agreement. The tool contains a core set of variables for which data should be collected for these projects. Appendix B: Guidance for preparing applications and evaluation


The application, the funding and letter of agreement, and acquittal for the grants will be managed using the SmartyGrants grants management system created by the Australian Institute of Grants Management.

Please do not email additional attachments such as support letters or references – only your response to the application form will be used to assess your application.

Project Timeline



Wednesday 31 March 2021

10:00AM (AEST)

Grant applications open

Friday 30 April 2021

05:00PM (AEST)

Grant applications close

To be determined

Contracting with successful applicants

To be determined

Notification of outcome to all applicants

To be determined

Public announcement of grant recipients

Verbal feedback to all applicants

To be determined

Project implementation period commences

NB: The above dates are proposed only and are subject to change. Women NSW will notify applicants of any changes to timeframes and deadlines.

Late applications will not be accepted.

How applications are assessed

You will receive an automated email via the SmartyGrants portal when Women NSW receives your application.

All applications are assessed through a two-stage process as outlined below:

Stage 1

  • Women NSW staff will undertake an eligibility check of all grant applications.
  • Applications will be considered for eligibility against the eligibility criteria outlined in the funding guidelines – see Table 3: Assessment criteria.

Stage 2

  • An assessment panel will assess all eligible applications against the criteria outlined in Table 3: Assessment criteria. The panel consists of qualified and experienced representatives, and may include Women NSW staff, representatives of Government agencies, and representatives from the private sector.

An application that fails to meet one or more of the assessment criteria will not be eligible for funding. Due to the competitive nature of the Investing in Women funding program, not all applications that meet the assessment criteria are able to be funded.

The panel will submit final recommendations for the consideration of the Director, Women NSW (or authorised delegate).

Contact Women NSW

If you have any questions about the grants that are not covered in the 2021 funding guidelines, please contact Women NSW:


Terms and Conditions


Submission of an application does not guarantee funding. Previous successful Investing in Women funding program applicants are not guaranteed funding in 2021.

Department of Communities and Justice accepts no responsibility for your project, irrespective of the funding provided by the agency to support the project, and irrespective of its listing on the Women NSW website or other Department of Communities and Justice publications.

Organisations are responsible for meeting their duty of care and all other obligations to project participants and other stakeholders.

Public Liability Insurance

All grant-funded events and activities must be covered by Insurance.

Your organisation is required to provide a valid Certificate of Currency for Public Liability Insurance with a minimum cover of $5 million in the name of the applicant before funding can be released.

Your organisation is responsible for ensuring that it has appropriate insurance coverage in place for the project, equipment or activities, and its day-to-day operations. Organisations that employ staff must comply with relevant industrial relations, and workplace health and safety requirements.

In all sponsored grant applications, Women NSW primary relationship is with the sponsoring body, as they are responsible for the management of the grant.

NSW Government Brand Guidelines

Grant recipients are required to acknowledge the contribution and support of the NSW Government in accordance with the NSW Government Brand Guidelines.

Media, promotion and disclosure of project information

Successful grant recipients are responsible for the promotion and advertising of their project. Successful applicants will be sent a communications pack, which includes the NSW Investing in Women logo, social media tiles, poster image and email/webpage banner to use in their promotions.

Grant recipients agree to information about the project being used for evaluation, promotional and media purposes. Should your application be successful, Women NSW may need to provide certain information to the media and Members of Parliament for promotional activities. Grant recipients should not make public announcements about their project without prior approval from Women NSW.

Grant recipients agree to obtain consent from Project Participants (using the Department of Communities and Justice Still and moving images consent form (event))for all still and moving images of participants captured by project organisers during the course of the Project and provided to the Department of Communities and Justice.

Grant recipients acknowledge that the information provided in the application, and any images of the project provided to the Department of Communities and Justice, may be used by the Department of Communities and Justice in media and promotional activities such as publishing case studies, social media and website content, and/or media releases.

Funding requirements

Only one application for funding will be accepted per organisation per project. Organisations must not use the money provided for the project, nor any interest earned on the money, for any other purpose beyond what is specified in the approved project description.

The grant recipient will take sole responsibility for the project. All projects must be located within NSW and must conclude within 12 months of commencing.

It is a program requirement that any changes or variations to the approved project scope, project location, and completion time frames outlined in the original 2021 Investing in Women application form on Smartygrants must be formally requested in writing for approval from Women NSW before any related work takes place.  Failure to do so may result in the withdrawal of the grant offer.

Successful organisations are encouraged to consider advising local MPs of events and inviting them to the event and any associated media opportunities.

Reporting requirements

Grant recipients are required to enter into a funding agreement with the Department of Communities and Justice. Organisations funded by the Department of Communities and Justice must operate in accordance with their contract and with legislation, policies and guidelines relevant to their program funding.

Grant recipients will be required to evaluate their project within 12 months of commencing (and no later than 30 June 2022), and to submit a project acquittal and report within one month of completing the project.

Privacy Policy

The NSW Government will collect and store the information you voluntarily provide to enable implementation of this grant program. Any information provided by you will be stored on a database that will only be accessed by authorised personnel and is subject to privacy restrictions. The information will only be used for the purpose for which it was collected.

The NSW Government is required to comply with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998. The NSW Government collects the minimum personal information to enable it to contact an organisation and to assess the merits of an application.

Applicants must ensure that people whose personal details are supplied with applications are aware that the NSW Government is being supplied with this information and how this information will be used.

Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009

Information received in applications and in respect of applications is treated as confidential. However, documents in the possession of the Government are subject to the provisions of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009. Under some circumstances a copy of the application form and other material supplied by the applicant may be released, subject to the deletion of exempt material, in response to a request made in accordance with the Act.

Appendix A: Sources of evidence

Below is a non-exhaustive list of resources which can be used as a starting point to gather evidence for specific problem (i.e. the need for the intervention), as well as the evidence that the specific intervention (your project proposal) is fit for purpose and will address the identified problem.

Appendix B: Guidance for preparing applications and evaluation

Below is a non-exhaustive list of sources of guidance and information to assist in developing ideas for the 2021 Investing in Women funding program, and preparing applications.

Office for Social Impact Investment Technical Guide: Outcomes Measurement for social impact investment proposals to the NSW Government

The Technical Guide was created to support social impact investment proposals, however, it includes guidance relevant for applications under the Investing in Women funding program.

At a minimum, applicants should read:

  • Section 2.2.1 Identifying the target population
  • Section 2.2.2 Expected effect of the intervention
  • Section 2.3.1 Defining program logic
  • Section 2.3.2 Key principles of program logic
  • Section 2.4 Outcomes

Project evaluation

Applicants should refer to the below guidance when preparing their application:

NSW Department of Premier & Cabinet Evaluation Toolkit

The Evaluation Toolkit provides advice and resources for planning and conducting a program evaluation.

NSW Government Program Evaluation Guidelines

The Program Evaluation Guidelines outline best practice principles to plan and conduct program evaluations.

Evaluation methods





questionnaires, checklists

To gather information in a non-threatening way

  • can be   completed anonymously
  • inexpensive
  • easy to   analyse
  • can be   administered to a large number of people
  • can gather   a large amount of data
  • may not get   well-considered feedback
  • wording can   bias responses
  • impersonal
    does not provide the full picture


To gain in-depth understanding of people’s impressions or experiences

  • provide   in-depth information
  • develop   relationship with participants
  • can be   flexible
  • time-consuming
  • more   difficult to analyse
  • costly
  • interviewer   can bias responses

Document review

To learn how a project is run without interrupting the project

  • provide   historical and comprehensive information
  • does not   interrupt the running of the project
  • information   readily available
  • few biases
  • time-consuming
  • information   may be incomplete
  • need to be   clear on what information is being sought
  • limited to   existing data


To collect information about how a project operates in practice

  • observe how   a project is operating as it is being run
  • adaptable   to events as they occur
  • can be   difficult to interpret
  • can be hard   to categorise observations
  • can   influence behaviour of project participants
  • can be   expensive

Focus groups

To explore a topic through group discussion

  • get common   impressions
  • efficient   way to obtain a range of in-depth information
  • can provide   key information about the project
  • hard to   analyse responses
  • need   skilled facilitator
  • can be   difficult to schedule 6–8 people together
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Last updated: 14 Sep 2021