Guidelines: Applying for a NZSL Community Grant

The New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Fund was established by the Government to support work that maintain and promote NZSL. Here is information on how to apply for funding. 

What's on this page


Video transcript

The New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Fund was established by the Government to support work that maintain and promote NZSL. The NZSL Strategy sets out the Boards language planning priorities, you can find a copy of the latest strategy here.   

The NZSL Board makes recommendations for use of the NZSL Fund to support projects which help deliver the NZSL Strategy five-year outcomes. These recommendations are made to Whaikaha which is legally responsible for allocating and monitoring the grants.

Community projects

Each year applications are open to receive a NZSL Community Grant.  Each funding round is open for one-month, when applications for a project that will maintain or promote NZSL can be submitted. 

How grants can be used?

  • To deliver a project with a clear outcome and timeline
  • Support projects that maintain and promote NZSL locally or nationally
  • Develop resources that will be available at no cost to members of the public

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

Please note that requests for NZSL funding will only be considered during NZSL Community Grant funding rounds. 

Financial guidelines

Each year, the Board can allocate up to $250,000 in total in NZSL Community Grants

When the Board recommend an application, they can also make decisions about how much funding the applicant receives.  For example, some applications that are successful may receive less than applied for or decide to pay the Grant over multiple payments based on the:

  • amount of the project
  • experience of the applicant

The Board like to see that other funding sources are applied to successfully deliver a project. The Board want to support a wide range of community projects and encourage applicants to explore other funding sources, such as local City Councils or the Lotteries Commission.


Video transcript

Project must meet the following parameters to be considered for an NZSL Community Grant.

  • Projects can be completed in one year
  • Projects are between $5,000 - $50,000. If your application is over $20,000 you will need to provide audited financial accounts to demonstrate your financial management capability.
  • The outcome must match the current five-year goals of the NZSL Strategy

The NZSL Fund cannot support projects that:

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

Please note that NZSL Community Grants must not be used to purchase or supply alcohol.

Fundholder information

Video transcript

Grants cannot be paid to individual bank accounts.  If you are an individual, please find a fundholder who can manage the Grant for you.  The fundholder organisation must be a legal entity, for example:

  • registered charitable trusts
  • incorporated societies
  • Crown entity e.g., Tertiary institution or a subsidiary of a Crown entity
  • Limited Liability Company

Your fundholder must sign a declaration stating that are happy to receive and report on the Grant on your behalf.

Joint projects

Video transcript

Sharing skills and experience is a good way to deliver a successful project.  If your project relies on another organisation, you will need to provide evidence that the organisation is committed to working with you.

Can I apply for equipment?

Video transcript

You can apply for capital items (things that you have to buy), such as computers, vehicles or equipment with a maximum of $500 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 capital asset register and are responsible for on-going maintenance and depreciation costs of any capital items purchased with the NZSL funding.

Can I apply for interpreter costs?

Video transcript

You can apply for interpreter costs if they are part of your overall project, such as supporting a Deaf person to deliver content to workshop participants or to plan a project.

Applications that only relate to interpreter costs for an event, such as theatre productions or workshops aimed at hearing participants are unlikely to be funded.

Video transcript

When the Board is considering applications, it will make recommendations on projects that are consistent with the NZSL Strategy.  The NZSL Board will assess eligible applications against the following criteria:

1.    Alignment of objectives and activities
  • Does the project meet the outcomes of the NZSL Strategy - to maintain and promote NZSL?
  • The NZSL Board will prioritise NZSL project 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 their ability to protect, preserve and share NZSL and Deaf culture.
  • Strengthen Māori Deaf engagement with Te Ao Māori through NZSL and develop skills and resources within the Māori Deaf community.
  • Share NZSL knowledge, experience and resources with other locations and regions, and favour projects that are self-sustaining and/or can be replicated.
  • Demonstrate collaboration across organisations to deliver project outcomes.
2.    Strength of planning
  • Does the application clearly describe the outcomes of the project and have a plan of how to meet its outcomes?
  • Does the applicant have the capacity and capability to implement the project?
  • Is the project of importance to the Deaf community?
  • If relevant to your application,
  • how will the project benefit Māori Deaf?
  • If the project involved children, does the application clearly describe how they will meet the Vulnerable Children’s Act 2014 requirements, i.e. Police Vetting.
3.    Financial information
  • Does the budget informaton provide full, easily understable, detailed and accurate information of all costs required to fund the project?
  • Has other funding been applied for from other sources?
  • Does the funding amount sought appear reasonable and demonstrate value for money?
  • Does the organisation demonstrate good financial management capability?


Video transcript


Members of the NZSL Board and Whaikaha have obligations under the Privacy Act 2020 to keep confidential certain information provided by grant applicants. The records of community grant assessment by the NZSL Board are regarded as strictly confidential.

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

How to apply

Video transcript

Submitting your application


If you want to make an application, submit your completed application in Survey Monkey Apply.  Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.

What to do:

Make an application

Complete and submit the application form in Survey Monkey Apply . The form includes some suggestions on what you need to think about when writing your application. Some guidelines to help with your application:

  • Keep the project name to less than 50 letters.
  • If you have more than one project, make separate applications and decide a priority for the projects. (Some large organisations with proven capacity may be able to submit more than two applications.
  • Provide a short video summary of your application in NZSL explaining what your objective in and who will be involved. The video should be no more than three minutes.
  • Financial information
    • If you are including interpreters in your budget, you need to state the hourly rate. The Board will only pay the same as a national interpreter agency.
    • If you plan to pay for services or buy products, get at least two quotes for any services or product you propose to pay for with the NZSL Community Grant. Do not provide copies of the quotes in your application but be prepared to provide copies to Whaikaha if requested.
    • Goods and Services Tax (GST) information.
      • 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. If they have provided a quote that is GST inclusive, deduct the GST component from the work[1].
      • If you are not clear on the GST aspect of your budget, please contact Whaikaha for clarification.

[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]

What happens next?

Video transcript

Once you have submitted your application, Whaikaha will shortlist the applications according to the ‘Eligibility Criteria’ on page 3. Whaikaha may also contact you or any other government department or agency, private person or organisation to ask questions about your project. This will help make sure all the information is easy to understand and accurate for the Board.

The NZSL Board then meet to discuss and agree recommendations for successful NZSL Community Grants. Final decisions are made by Whaikaha on receipt of the Board’s recommendations. The NZSL Board does not have legal responsibility for the Fund. It is managed by Whaikaha, which is legally responsible for allocating and monitoring the grants.

Once final decisions have been made, you will be sent an email from Whaikaha letting you know the outcome of your application after 1 July. Whaikaha will then negotiate a grant 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.
  • You may receive part payment of the approved NZSL Community Grant at the start of your NZSL project and be paid the remaining portion when the required reports (see the next point) are submitted and approved.


  • You are required to report in NZSL and in written English at the end of your project. Depending on the length of your project you may be asked to make an interim report as well. 
  • All reporting can be completed in Survey Monkey Apply.

Leftover funds

If you get to the end of your project, Whaikaha will work with you on what will happen to the money.  There are two options.  

  • Funding can only be spent on what was agreed. Any unspent funding must be returned to Whaikaha within one month of the end of the grant period. If this applies, please contact Whaikaha: to decide on this.
  • You can make a request to use the money after your project has ended, for example to do more of the same or a slightly different use.

Any changes will need to be approved by Whaikaha after considering your variation request. 

Read or download the guidelines in full