Guidelines: Applying for a NZSL Community grant

Round Eight 2021

Opening date: 16 March 2021
Closing date: 4 pm, 14 April 2021

You should read these guidelines before completing your application to the NZSL Fund.

Download as a Word document: 

Grants process for Round 8

The online application tool Survey Monkey Apply was introduced in 2020 to make the application process easier. It is also more video-friendly and makes tracking projects and reporting on successful grants easier.

There is no change to the information you need to provide except that you submit your application online.

Any questions should be sent to the NZSL Board Secretariat at


The New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Fund was established by the Government to support projects that maintain and promote NZSL. The NZSL Strategy (2018-2023) sets out the Board’s strategic priorities .

Acquisition:             The learning of a language by children and adults.

Use/Access:            The ability to use a language in any or all domains of society, including within whānau.

Attitude:                    The beliefs and opinions of language users and others towards that language.

Documentation:      The systematic recording of language use for research and reference.

Status:          How a language is regarded by its users and others.

The NZSL Board makes recommendations for the use of the NZSL Fund to support projects which help deliver the outcomes set out in the NZSL Strategy (2018-2023). These recommendations are made to the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) which is legally responsible for allocating and monitoring the community grants.

NZSL Community Grants rounds

Each year community-driven projects are considered through a community grant process. The Board will hold one funding round every year, announcing the dates in advance.

The opening time for applications is for one month.  Requests to fund community projects will only be considered during the NZSL Community Grant timeframes.

You can find more information about other NZSL community projects that have already been supported by the NZSL Fund in accordance with the NZSL Fund policies here .

On-going and one-off projects

The NZSL Board also commissions work towards achieving the five strategic priorities set out in the NZSL Strategy. The Board may request proposals for such Board-driven projects at any time, including outside of the community grant period.

Legal responsibilities

The NZSL Board does not have legal responsibility for the NZSL Fund. It is managed by ODI, which is legally responsible for allocating and monitoring the grants.


Assessing applications for Round Eight

When the Board is considering applications, it will make recommendations on projects that are consistent with the priorities and principles explained below.

The NZSL Board may recommend funding for a lesser amount than applied for or may recommend funding only part of an application.

The NZSL Board will assess eligible applications against the following criteria:

1.    Alignment of objectives and activities
  • Does the project align with the NZSL Strategy (2018 – 2023) language planning priorities? Each priority has aspirational descriptions of what the future for NZSL will look like in 2023, after five years of strategic development. The descriptions provide a clear and shared understanding of what the Strategy is working towards.
  • Does the project align with the NZSL Board’s priorities for community grants? The NZSL Board will prioritise projects that are based on one or more of the following principles:
  • Include Deaf community members and support the Deaf community to develop skills and resources to increase and strengthen people’s ability to protect, preserve and share NZSL and their culture.
  • Invest in long-term and sustainable outcomes for current and future generations of NZSL users and Deaf people.
  • Share NZSL knowledge, experience and resources with other locations and regions, and favour those projects that will become self-sustaining and/or can be replicated.
  • Encourage organisations to work collaboratively.
    • Does the application clearly describe the outcomes of the project?
    • Does the project have a clear plan to meet its outcomes?
    • Does the applicant have the capacity and capability to implement the project?
    • How well will this project strengthen NZSL in a way that is of importance to the Deaf community?
    • Does the budget information in the application form provide full, easily understandable, detailed and accurate information of all costs required to fund the project?
    • What funding is being provided/sought from other organisations as well?
    • Does the funding amount sought appear reasonable and demonstrate value for money?
    • If the funding is for an establishment phase or to maintain an project, does the project have the ability to become self-sustaining?
2.    Strength of planning
3.    Financial information
4.    Overall assessment

Does the project demonstrate long-term outcomes for the NZSL Strategy (2018 – 2023) aligned with the priorities and principles set out in this document?


Who can apply?

The Board will only consider applications for projects that are Deaf-led. Hearing organisations can apply for grants if Deaf leadership of the project is evident or demonstrated.

Funding grants can be made to local or national organisations that are legal entities. This includes registered charitable trusts or incorporated societies, a Crown entity (for example, a university) or a subsidiary of a Crown entity, and limited liability companies.

Grants cannot be made to an individual person. Individuals can apply, but payment must be through an approved organisation. If you are not a legally registered entity, you will need to nominate one to act as a fund-holder on your behalf. They will receive the grant, be accountable for the grant funds and control your payments.

What can you apply for?

You can make an application for one-year projects that cost between $5,000 and $50,000 (excluding GST). 

Applications to the NZSL Fund must not duplicate or replace NZSL funding, services and resources which are the responsibility of other agencies or organisations, such as the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education.

You can apply for equipment (capital items), such as computers, vehicles or equipment if you:

  • demonstrate that capital items are necessary for the success of the project.
  • demonstrate that the capital items are a reasonable percentage of the total budget.
  • maintain a register of capital assets and are responsible for on-going maintenance and depreciation costs of any capital items purchased with the NZSL funding.
  • Funding for capital items will be capped at $500.

NZSL funding must not be used to purchase or supply alcohol.

The NZSL Fund cannot support projects that include:

  • operational costs, other than reasonable overheads
  • activities or programmes taking place outside of New Zealand
  • activities that have already taken place or before the funding agreement has been signed by both parties.

How to apply

Submitting your application

What to do: There are two stages to go through.

Step One - Expression of Interest (optional but recommended)

You are invited to submit an Expression of Interest within the first seven days before the application period. This should be done by completing the Expression of Interest summary of your project and approximate budget in Survey Monkey Apply.

Thispre-application stage lets the Secretariat check your project is in line with the NZSL Strategy (2018-2023) and lets us provide feedback,answer questions and provide more information to help your application. Please note: ODI is not able to provide specific guidance on the content of your application.

You can email us questions at any time during the opening period.

Deadline: You can submit your expression of interest from 2 March 2021 until 12:00pm 9 March 2021.

Step Two - Application

If you were to go ahead and apply, complete and submit the online application form in Survey Monkey Apply. The form includes some suggestions on what you need to think about when writing your application. You must:

  • Limit the name of your project to 50 letters or less. Do not include a slash ‘/’ in your project’s name (e.g. use ‘Deaf and hearing impaired NZSL users’, rather than ‘Deaf/hearing impaired NZSL users’.).
  • Some organisations may have a second great idea. Separate applications must be made for each project. You will need to state each project’s priority if you are applying for more than one project. Some large organisations with proven capacity may be able to submit more than two applications which requires prior approval. Contact the Secretariat at
  • Only documentation submitted via Survey Monkey Apply will be considered in the assessment of each application.
  • Include a short video summary of your application in NZSL – no more than three minutes long. It should cover how your project fits into the NZSL Strategy and the actions that will be carried out.

Deadline: Complete your application by 4.00 pm, on Monday 14 April, 2021.

Legal Requirement

If your project involves or may involve children, those who will be working with children must be police vetted in accordance with the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014. You can find more information about the act here.

Financial information

  • If you are including NZSL interpreters and/or NZSL teachers in your project, your costings for these services should be no higher than the national providers or association hourly rates for these. In your budget, you should clearly state the hourly rate that you are paying for these services.
  • Get at least two quotes for any services or products you propose to purchase with the NZSL Fund grant and use this information to assist with developing your budget in the application form (Part 3). Do not provide copies of the quotes in your application but be prepared to provide copies to ODI if requested.
  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) information is required to ensure all Inland Revenue obligations are met. Government agencies always work with GST exclusive figures. However, if you pay GST then you can include it when you invoice us. If you do not pay GST, then you can’t invoice for it. For clarity:
    • If you are applying for funding and you are not GST registered, then you cannot charge GST in your application for your work.
    • If you are not GST registered, and your GST contractors are GST registered, then their quote in your overall budget needs to include GST.
    • If you are GST registered and your contractors are GST registered, then your budget needs to be GST exclusive (does not include GST). If they have provided a quote that is GST inclusive, deduct the GST component from the work[1]. [You will include GST when you invoice us.]
    • If you are not clear on the GST aspect of your budget, please contact ODI for clarification.
    • For applications over $20,000, audited financial accounts are required.

Residual funds (Leftover funds)

Funding can only be spent on what was agreed. Any unspent funding must be returned to the Office for Disability Issues within one month of the end of the grant period. If you have leftover funds, please contact ODI: to make arrangements for this.



Do not include any personal information for any clients you may work with, including in your reports to the NZSL Board.

Members of the NZSL Board have obligations under the Privacy Act 1993 to keep confidential certain information provided by grant applicants. The records of deliberations by the NZSL Board are regarded as strictly confidential.

NZSL Board members will ensure the safe keeping of all applications and related confidential documents. The intellectual property relating to the ideas and outcomes put forward in the applications will be treated by the NZSL Board members in strict confidence.

What happens next?

Once you have submitted your application, ODI may contact you or any other government department or agency, individual, or organisation to ask questions about your project. This will help make sure all the information is easy to understand and correct. You can track the progress of your application on Survey Monkey Apply.

  1. ODI will conduct a shortlisting process and report to the NZSL Board on recommendations for their consideration.
  2. The NZSL Board will then meet to discuss and agree recommendations for successful projects. Final recommendations for funding are made by MSD on receipt of the Board’s recommendations.
  3. Once final decisions have been made, you will see the outcome of your application in Survey Monkey Apply.  You should expect to hear in July 2021. ODI will then negotiate a variation with those organisations that have been successful.

If your application is successful:

  • You will receive a ‘Letter of Grant’ which provides you with all the information about the funding you will receive and your rights and responsibilities.
  • If you want to change any details of your project after it has started, a formal variation request must be made and approved.
  • You are required to report in NZSL and in written English at the end of your project. If your project is 12 months long, you may be required to submit an interim project report. If required, this will be specified in the Letter of Grant. You will receive a copy of the report templates with your Letter of Grant.


[1] To add GST to a price, multiply the GST-exclusive price by 15% or 0.15. Add this amount to the GST-exclusive price. To remove GST from a price, multiply the GST-inclusive price by 3 then divide by 23. Subtract this amount from the GST-inclusive price. [Inland Revenue website]

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