Writing funding applications
Applying for a grant is often the only way to get large sums of money. But navigating your way through the application process can be daunting. Here's how to do it. Hello money.
Cash. Campaigns need it and they usually need lots of it. And while money from bake sales and sponsored events can help, it is grants that will give you the big bucks. The problem is that writing funding applications can feel like doing an advanced physics test. That you've not revised for. While blindfolded. But don't lose heart, once you get the hang of them they're easier than falling off a log while drunk (hey - where did that log come from?)
How much money?
Funnily enough, a bid along the lines of "can we have some money please to do some stuff?" won't be successful. You need to know exactly how much you need, and what you will use it for. So grab a pen, paper, a calculator, and everyone involved in your project, plan the whole thing together and do the maths. Then check the sums again. And again.
The good news is there are lots of organisations out there that give grants to small campaigns and projects. It's all about finding the ones most likely to support you, and help is at hand, through places such as the Directory for Social Change, which provides information on different funders, or try your nearest Council for Voluntary Service (CVS). You can also contact your local council to ask about community grants available in your area. Also, vCashpoint, Youthbank UK, and O2's Think Big scheme are young-people friendly.
Nearly all funders have guidelines for giving out their money. These cover the kind of groups and activities they will fund, how much they will give away and how to apply. Check these match your cash criteria.
Your best bet however is to talk to other groups similar to yours and find out where they got their funding.
Gathering information about funders
Once you've got a shortlist, find out as much as you can about these funders. What kind of activities do they fund? What are their criteria for giving out money, deadlines and forms? How much do they give? If they've got a website or printed publicity materials, read them very carefully.
You also need to find out about deadlines for applying. Some funders only allocate funds once or twice a year, so find out when the next deadline is and how long it takes for them to decide. If there are deadlines, keep to them.
Writing the application
This is the tricky bit. Funders receive giant stacks of applications all the time so make yours stand out. The points you should definitely address are:
What is the need or problem?
Basically, why are you doing this? Briefly paint a picture of the issue/s your campaign aims to address. Include relevant facts, statistics and data and directly identify who will benefit from your amazing work. Pull at the heart strings if possible, but make sure everything you say is correct.
How can the funder help?
This is the part where you mention the funder directly. Show that you've read up on them and you understand their funding criteria, and make sure you meet them.
How much money are you asking for?
This needs to be clear. A breakdown of the budget will really help you here. How will every penny be spent?
What will the money do?
Explain the difference their money will make and exactly what it will enable you to do. Be precise to show off how wonderfully organised you are. Include methods and timetables of what you want to achieve and by when.
How will they know it is working?
Unfortunately, funders don't just hand over cash and hope you'll spend it wisely. They will want to know the outcome of their investment. So explain how you plan to measure the success of your project and how you will keep them up-to-date with any developments.
Don't ruin all your hard work by making these common mistakes:
It sounds obvious but, really, who would fund someone who doesn't know the difference between 'wood' and 'would'?
Make it look nice
Simple things like a clear layout and consistent font size make a difference.
Speak their language and save any 'street' terms for, well, the street.
No, you're probably not going to singlehandedly reverse global warming, so don't say that you will. Also be specific about your aims.
Keep it positive
The words 'might',' could', 'should', and 'may' are banned. Believe in your project. Use 'will' instead.
Don't miss the deadline
It won't make you look cool. It will just be ignored.
Updated by Holly Thompson