19th Mar 2019

Did you know large numbers of trust funding and grant applications are unsuccessful because the sender does not read the criteria correctly?

Our Communities Team are often asked for the ‘secret’ to securing funding. Although it is not a simple process, the good news is you can greatly improve your chances of success by just avoiding some common mistakes.

Funders often comment that a high number of applications are rejected because they have not read the criteria or answered the questions clearly.

Fundraising takes up valuable time and can often be critical to the success of an organisation so don’t waste time by applying to funds that are not a good match for your project or by simply failing to read the instructions properly.

Research and preparation are vital for a successful funding bid. When planning your fundraising you need to make sure you have allowed enough time to not only write the bid and gather the evidence to support it, but also to await a response. It is possible you might not hear back from funders for up to six months after applying and it can be an even longer process for large amounts. Make sure the funders can decide by the time you need the money and get your application to them well before their deadline. If they ask for additional information, make sure you reply as promptly as you can.

Before you even begin, ensure you have read, read, and re-read the funders guidelines before applying. Always check that you are eligible to apply; this means also reading the exclusions list! If you don’t meet their criteria, move on to another funder.

A common error that our Communities Team come across when reviewing funding bid is that the writer has not actually answered the key questions being asked.  It is important to double check you understand exactly what the funder is asking for…ask them if you are not sure. It is very easy to go off track when talking about your idea. Be careful if you are cutting and pasting as some information about your project will be generic. You must always tailor your application to each funder’s individual criteria.

Those assessing your application may not have full awareness of your local context, so bring your application to life by including a quote from a user or an interesting fact about your group. Try to think about what it is that makes your request special; make sure you illustrate the difference your project will make. Be clear, concise and use simple language. Try not to use jargon that the reader won’t understand. Be realistic, so don’t over promise, and only submit the information you have been asked for.

A good way to improve your fundraising skills is to learn from past rejections. If there is an opportunity to speak to a funder after disappointing news, make sure you take careful note of the feedback.  You can then apply this learning to each future application as appropriate.

And remember…always make sure you have filled in the form fully!  It is not uncommon for applications to be rejected through simple omissions and inaccuracies.  

Whenever possible ask someone to read your application through before you send it to the funder. When you are working so hard to present your project it can be really beneficial to seek a ‘sense check’ from a third party.

This is just a snapshot of some key messages to keep in mind when completing a funding bid.  The Durham4Community funding tool is a key resource and has some useful ‘top tip’ information in the ‘Making a Successful Application’ guide  - you can access the tool at https://www.idoxopen4community.co.uk/durhamcc?bcr=MTIzNA

Durham Community Action work with many organisations looking to source funding options and review

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