Perfecting your application part 2: enter the professionals!

Last month I put up a short blog and infographic about how to perfect your funding application.

I shared the blog on the Institute of Fundraising’s LinkedIn group, and many of the group had some great tips to add. Thanks! Here are a few of the top tips professional fundraisers gave for writing your application:

1. Write with passion about your work. Be factual, but also be enthusiastic & positive.

“If you don’t believe in the work and the difference it will make, it’s unlikely the funder will either”. Although passion alone is never going to get you a grant, an application that is written in an engaging and passionate way will certainly stand out. It’s all about finding the right balance between providing the necessary facts, and showing your commitment and knowledge.

2. Read the criteria carefully! “It’s amazing how many people don’t…”

This is a common gripe among funders. To be clear, you don’t need to read everything published on every fund you look at. Your best bet is to speak to us first if you can, and discuss your idea.. But once you have narrowed down the field, going through available guidance again can save you time, flag up any potential issues, or even save wasted effort if you spot a show-stopper in there.

3. Share your users’ perspectives

Getting some ‘user voices’ into your application can be very powerful, and it’s something we look for in all applications. We want to see that your work is led by the people it is for. Talking about their ‘journey’ through your project is also a great way to show the positive outcomes of your work.

4. Edit, edit, edit…

Where words are at a premium, try to cut out any redundant sentences and focus on what the funder needs to know. We’ll get in touch to talk to you too, so don’t panic if you can’t fit everything in.

5. Answer the question! “It’s THE best rule.”

It’s great to see this being suggested by a fundraiser! We often get applications where the answers in the form don’t marry up to the questions, and it makes it quite difficult to assess the project. If you aren’t sure what the question is really asking, get in touch with us and ask – we’d rather talk it over than leave you second guessing.

6. “Don’t make funders work too hard to understand what you’re doing”

This comes down to editing, avoiding jargon, and trying to make your application flow logically. Try to write as if you are explaining your project to a colleague who has good background knowledge, but doesn’t know much specifically about your work. It’s easy to miss things when you are very close to your work!

7. Don’t give up! Ask questions, get feedback, try again.

Great advice. We will always offer feedback, and unless your application is fundamentally ineligible, there is usually a chance to improve your application and try again. And you’re welcome to get in touch for a chat if you feel stuck with your application.

A few other great tips:

  • “Say why your organisation is well placed to run the project”
  • “Think from the perspective of the funder – what do they want to hear?”
  • “If your project comes from the heart, is truly needed, expressed simply, is well evidenced, has integrity and honesty, it will always shine through.”

Here’s some top tips you shared:


  1. I have found in the past that taking the questions out of the application form and sitting down with your service team to go through the questions is very useful and makes writing the actual application form much easier and quicker to do.

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