The prospect of completing an application for funding is enough to fill you with dread, but these top tips will give you the tools you need to secure vital funds for your project.
1. Before you start pulling an application together, research the funder you are applying to and ensure your planned project/charity is something they would support.
2. Read the guidelines, check your eligibility, and contact the funder if you have any doubts.
3. Spend time planning your project, and make sure you can illustrate your impact clearly by telling the funder how many people you have reached since your organisation was founded, how many you reached in the last year, and how many you will reach in the next year.
4. Summarise what you’re asking for, covering who, what, where, when, and why:
- Who will it benefit
- What will you do with the funding
- Where will you work
- When will the funding be required for, and for how long
- Why do you need it? What will it help you achieve?
5. Prepare a fully itemised budget for the planned project, and provide the funder with the level of information they ask for. Initially, they may just request headline costs but having the budget to hand means you can quickly respond to any queries.
6. Provide a realistic budget, and don’t be tempted to inflate it by applying for £8,000 for something which costs £5,000 because you think the funder won’t award the full amount you need.
7. Once you have the application form, read it and talk to colleagues to make sure they have input, and then designate one person to collecting the information needed.
8. Schedule enough time to do any research, gather supporting documentation, and complete the form.
9. Allow yourself the space to focus on the application and not be rushed or distracted.
10. Break down the questions and draft answers using succinct, simple language and bullet points to draw attention to important information.
11. Tell your story. Assume the funder doesn’t know of your organisation, and write with energy and passion to give a short, powerful summary of what you do, who you help, and how. If you can, get it down to one concise sentence.
12. Clearly state you organisation’s aims and objectives (are you being SMART?), and show the locations you work in by listing the areas, cities, or countries.
13. Use colour, technology, and visual aids to tell your story and illustrate your impact with vibrant action-oriented photographs, case studies, or links to videos, if you have them.
14. Ensure you have robust ways of measuring the impact of your proposed work, and show that your organisation has the capacity to manage, deliver, and evaluate your proposed activity.
15. Don’t claim too much credit, be specific.
16. List donors on your website. It shows you are a proud recipient, and makes you seem like a less risky prospect to a potential funder.
17. Check the opening and closing dates, and then diarise them with reminders.
18. Be sure to include local, recent, and relevant evidence that shows your project is needed.
19. If the application requests supporting documentation, then provide it, and be responsive to further requests for information.
20. Finally, make sure you, or someone else, proof reads the application.
By following these tips you should have a strong proposal for funding, but it you need any further guidance, check out the useful links below.