Funding bids – Hints and tips

In the voluntary and community sector we are always looking for different funding streams, when funding does become available there are thousands of people just like ourselves going for the same pots of money. While I can’t guarantee that you funding bids will be successful what I can offer you is a few pearls of wisdom that I have picked up along the way. Enjoy!

1.  If in doubt, ask!

If you have any questions, check if you can discuss your ideas and application! Many funders welcome this contact and sometimes have workers who will support you through the application process.

2.  Be clear and specific

The funder needs to understand and feel confident with exactly how you will use their money. Make sure you have answered all the basic the questions. A good way to think about this is: What? Who? Why? Where? How? When? you will carry out your project.

3.  Avoid lengthy descriptions and acronyms

It is better use bullet points and brief to the point facts. It is a good idea to start by writing a rough draft and then cutting it down in size and keeping the bare essentials! Acronyms can mean different things in different contexts. So if you do use them make sure that you write the acronym out in full the first time you make reference to it so that the funder knows exactly what you are talking about! E.g. Do not attend (DNA).

4.  Do your research!

Never apply for funding without reading the application criteria and guidelines or you may well be wasting your time. Study the funder’s website, and look up projects funded in the past to get an idea on what they are looking for.

5.  Know your market

What other organisations do similar work to you? What resources and contacts could you tap into that are already out there? Who could you work in partnership with to strengthen your offer? Are there any social or policy developments that will affect your project? Remember you need to be able to back up any information you refer to in your application so make sure that you do your homework!

6.  Know your figures

Break down all of your costs including salaries and don’t forget, you will need to include management costs! Funders need to understand how you arrived at the final numbers. Get quotations and estimates rather than guessing how much things cost.

7.  Don’t leave unanswered questions and stick to the word limit

If a funder asks you a question, answer it! Sounds obvious but many people will leave boxes on the application form blank. Don’t put ‘please see attached’ when you have a maximum.

8.  Always get someone else to read through your application

Some things that may be obvious to you but not to others. Get it checked by someone else before you send it off!

9.  Don’t forget to enclose any additional documents required!

These can include for example insurance, training certificates, bank statements, copies of your annual report and accounts, your constitution, and any relevant policies (eg Safeguarding Policy).

10.  Always meet the deadline

If the deadline is 5pm on a Friday, make sure you bid arrives with the funder by that time. Late applications will not be considered as this says to the funder that you can’t meet deadlines. This does not bode well when someone is giving you money that will have deadlines attached to it!