How to write successful funding applications
By Antony Wallace who runs our ‘Writing Successful Bids‘ workshop.
Writing, submitting and securing grant funding for your organisation can be a stressful experience; where do you start, what do you write, how do you get across the importance of a project / idea that you passionately believe in and once funded and up and running will make a significant difference to peoples’ lives?
Here are five tips to make sure your energy and resources are focussed on what does work:
You are selling a solution to a problem
Funders want to know how the money they allocate will be spent, your proposed solution, how the project / idea will be implemented and what happens if plans go wrong. Your application must clearly explain this to the funder in a way that is coherent, easy to follow and which can be measured and translated into a measurable project plan to measure success against.
You must convince funders there’s a problem to solve
Almost all funders will ask you to explain what problem you are trying to solve and what evidence you are basing this on. This is a really critical section. Funders want to ensure their money is being spent wisely so you need to prove there is a need. Although this can be secondary evidence such as available data and reports produced by a 3rd party, it’s always so much more persuasive where you can describe and demonstrate first hand evidence (surveys, questionnaires, etc) of the need your project / idea.
Have a clear and realistic budget
I always stress that you should do this really early on because it will focus you on what your project can and CAN’T deliver within the funder’s budget. If the funder has a maximum of £10,000, you can employ 1 person on minimum wage for 12 months but nothing else! What do you need to buy to make the project a success, what can you cutback on and how long will the project take?
Don’t bend your project to breaking point to fit a funder, find a different funder
Finding funding is highly competitive but that should never mean you compromise your project / idea so that it fits a funder’s priority. You’ll just have to find a different funder that does recognise the problem you are trying to solve. Time spent researching potential funders who do value what you want to achieve is never wasteful, these must become your absolute focus.
Less is always more
A maximum word or character limit is not a target. If you can make your point within 80% of the word count that’s a sign of being articulate. Waffling always loses you points. Similarly, unnecessarily complex words and excessive lengthy sentences never convinces a funder; quite the reverse it makes them nervous about your ability to articulate complex ideas in an accessible and easy to understand format. With anything from 50-200 funding applications to read, a funder wants to understand your ideas quickly by reading concise explanations.