Writing funding applications can be a tricky business, and sometimes even a source of worries or stress. To help with your blood pressure, here are my tips to perfect your application.
1. Prepare early
Starting early gives you time to do your research, find the best funding programme, gather information, get quotes, get people involved and write your application. This kind of preparation makes it so much easier to make a convincing case for your project. Working back from when you need the money, you can see that you need to start pretty early, especially when you add in the time we will take to assess your application and pay the grant (which is typically at least a couple of months).
You can complete applications at short notice – especially if you know the project inside out. But in my experience, it’s often obvious if funding proposal has been put together in a rush. This is not a problem in itself so long as the information you give us is clear and consistent. But it can be a red flag that will make us ask more questions about the levels of planning that have gone into the project.
2. Focus on how you’ll use this grant
Most of the application should be used to explain what you will do with the grant you are asking for. Especially for smaller applications (usually those under £10,000), that’s what we want to know about, and what we will assess. A little background on your organisation is worth including. But too many applications are filled up with history and existing activities – and barely mention how the grant will be spent.
3. Use clear language
I’ve seen some seriously confusing language used in funding applications. If we can’t easily tell what you will actually be doing, it’s pretty hard for us to judge whether to fund you. Think ‘explaining to a friend’ not ‘PhD thesis’.
Dropping the buzzwords and jargon and sticking to clear language will get you a long way (and yes, we funders are guilty of ignoring this too!).
4. Make it factual
A surprising number of funding applications are fact-free zones. Again, it’s difficult to assess an application if we don’t have a clear idea of:
- where the project will happen,
- what activities are involved,
- when they will happen,
- how many people will be involved and,
- how much it will cost.
That said, don’t forget to tell us why you want to run the project, why it’s what your community needs, and how your know that.
5. Check and recheck
As many as a quarter of applications we receive are missing vital information. This creates extra work and delays you getting your grant. Avoid this by double-checking your application before submission, and getting a friend or colleague to do the same (they can also check that your language is clear!).
6. Talk to the funder
If you are stuck, talk to us! It’s better to clear up issues, ask questions, or check eligibility in advance of applying. We are very happy to hear from you, and most other funders will be too.