Finding supporting data
Most funding applications will ask you for at least some level of data.
If the application doesn’t ask for data outright, it is implied that you will still provide some level of evidence to support your case. Yep, there’s no way getting around this sucker; you need to state and prove your case.
Researcher, economist or statistician, I am not. However, I must admit I don’t mind indulging in a good bit of data. Why? Because this is where the truth behind the story I’m telling lives and believe me, the person assessing your application will be looking for that truth.
Not sure where to begin?
Never fear. The information below will get you started.
Hint: Go to your electronic filing system now (yes, right now) and create a folder called ‘Data’. In this folder, you will store anything that’s useful, interesting or otherwise relevant to your case. If you fail to do this, you’ll find yourself searching for the same old data time and time again. Even if you swear you’re never, ever applying for funding again, trust me, it only takes one successful application to get hooked.
If you have the time and budget, you may choose to collect primary data, i.e. data you collect yourself for a specific purpose (e.g. customer interviews about their service needs and local community services about the level of disadvantage in the community).
More likely, you’ll be in a big rush to get your application completed and choose to access secondary data, i.e. data that has been collected from someone else for another purpose that somehow links back to the case you’re trying to prove.
As you collate your data, remember that there are two broad categorisations of data that you may need for your application. Data which is qualitative, i.e. expressed to characterise or categorise (for example, the cars are yellow, red or blue or the main issues presented were obesity and alcoholism), and data which is quantitative, i.e. can be expressed in numbers (for example, 54% or 1,064 people).
Some free (and trustworthy) data sources that may come in handy for your application:
- Population data – Your first point of call should be the Australian Bureau of Statistics Census data. From here you can source statistics about the population from headcounts to occupation, level of education, employment and housing. (Note: Be aware this data was last collected in 2016 and it’s fair to say our world has been through quite a lot since then. You should take factors such as Covid-19 into account, particularly if you are establishing a business case).
- Labour market data – Labour Market Information Portal demonstrates future jobs, current unemployment rates, access to government labour market programs and more. This site also breaks information down by region.
- Crime and police data – In NSW the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, BOCSAR, provides information online about crime. This data could be helpful to establish a case for a service or program. For example, “There were 57 cases or domestic assault in January, an increase of 5% from the previous time this year, our program works at these peak periods to…”.
- Health data – In NSW, HealthStats NSW provides insights which may assist you to build a case in your application.
There are also organisations that can assist you to build your case.
They can do so by assisting you to access data, providing insight or perhaps perusing your application and/or participating in primary research. But don’t expect them to do all the heavy lifting, particularly if you’ve left it to the last minute.
Some ideas are:
- Ask government agencies such as AusIndustry, Austrade or the Regional Development agency in your state.
- Ask your Regional Development Australia entity; many have access to additional free data online.
- Contact the Australian Industry and Skills Committee and find the relevant Industry Reference Committee
- Contact universities that specialise in the area you are working in and find out if there’s a Cooperative Research Centre relevant to your research needs.
- Ask government-funded entities and agencies found in labour market programs, education, research, health and justice etc.
- Ask your local Council
- Connect with Business Australia
While a lot of information can be sourced via Google ensure it comes from a reputable source; remember, it’s all about proving your case and most importantly, remember that some of the sites can take a little while to get your head around.
If you are considering embarking into the world of grants and funding set aside at least an hour each week to search for data and save it into that file that I know you’ve already created.
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