Guide to Getting What You Want

Welcome to ‘Grab that Grant’, a monthly column brought to you by local grants guru, Carolyn McCall. Carolyn is the founder of the Little Project Management Company, and has a wealth of knowledge into the industry. This month Carolyn chats about how to ‘get what you want’

How often do you express your true needs and wants?

Over the holidays, I made sure I set aside a lot of time to spend with my two little boys, who are 3 and 6. One day I felt like I needed a break to recharge. My typical tricks of hiding in my room for ten minutes or pretending to hang out the washing were not working, so I called on my husband to take a break from work so I could head outside for a quick walk. It was exactly what I needed. So, what does my not-so-perfect parenting have to do with grants?

In this instance, I asked for something I needed – I don’t always – but this time I did. However, I see many for-purpose organisations either asking for what they need only once, or not asking at all. They have amazing ideas and community-changing projects that they want to deliver, but they do not necessarily ask for what they need to make it happen.

If you are part of a community organisation or charity, how do you ask for what you need or want? Whether it is money to get a project funded, volunteers to set up an event, or resources to support your organisation—how do you approach it?

For example, it could involve nurturing an engaged alumni and sharing your project ideas with them, or regularly updating past funders on what you are doing or sharing on Facebook what you are looking for and why this is important to you. 

Sometimes when you ask for what you need, you might get a ‘no’. Actually, if you get into the habit of asking for what you need, it is guaranteed that you will hear the word ‘no’ more often. And this can be hard when we are so passionate about our cause and what we do. Hearing ‘no’ is what puts people off continuing to apply for grants and asking for what they need. But being bold and putting yourself out there means a ‘no’ could as some point turn into a ‘yes’. 

In Jennifer Cohen’s Tedx talk ‘The Secret to Getting Anything You Want in Life’, she talks about the 10% rule. To try for what you want 10 times. The secret is being comfortable in being told ‘no’ nine out of ten times. The fact is that you miss out on 100% of the opportunities that you don’t go for. So, how might your organisation benefit if you tried asking 10 times for what you want?

The role you play in the community goes two ways; you have the responsibility to give and to receive. When we are clear on what it is that we would like to receive—and we communicate this—we help create a thriving, cohesive community.

So, ask away! And don’t wait until someone asks you, or afterthought to a post, or until you have reached the very end of a conversation—bring your asking forward! Why not ask today? If you would like to have a chat with me, please email me on 

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