10 Steps to Successful Grant Applications
There are thousands of funding programmes in the UK that can help with the costs of setting up or growing your business. Whether you are about to submit your first grant application or want to improve your success rates, the following 10 tips will put you on the right funding track:
- Are you funding ready?
- Decide on a project
- Identify funding
- Is it the right funding opportunity for your project?
- Scrutinise the guidelines
- Understand funder motivations
- Structuring your application
- Your writing style
- A fresh pair of eyes
- Avoiding failure
1. Are you funding ready?
Is your business efficiently run? Do you have a long-term plan? Do the resources and appetite exist within your business to carry out the project? You need to demonstrate to funders that you are able to spend their funds wisely.
2. Decide on a project
Funding providers want to support more than just a collection of costs. They want to see that you have given thought to an actual project which demonstrates the following qualities: it has a beginning, middle and end; it has clear activities and beneficiaries; and is made up of something old (experience of applying for funding), something new (an innovative approach); something borrowed (best practice from a project in a different region or sector); and something green (showing sustainability).
3. Identify funding
Websites like j4bGrants can help you identify funding opportunities that match your project’s aims. Register for business funding news now.
4. Is it the right funding opportunity for your project?
A funding provider can only offer support to your project if it meets the aims and objectives of their programme. Make sure you apply to the right programme! Demonstrate that you can deliver the funder’s needs and values well. Indicate how the benefits outweigh the cost and that you have internal buy-in.
5. Scrutinise the guidelines
Make a note of:
- Key dates such as deadline and, if you’re successful, when the funder expects the project to start and when you should have spent the money by;
- Required legal details such as accounts and policies;
- Who is expected to sign the application and whether they will be available to approve sign off on the required day;
- Any ‘hot’ words – words that the funder uses often that you should mirror back to them – e.g. the funder may be more familiar with the term ‘learner’ rather than ‘trainee’ or ‘delegate’.
6. Understand funder motivations
Funders want to support those projects that help to deliver their own policy. And you need to know what that is! Published information such as annual reports and case studies can help you identify policy as can attending funding briefings and conferences which present an opportunity for you to meet funding providers.
7. Structuring your application
Make sure your application is easy to understand. Layout is important here: it’s good practice to include: a label – 1-sentence intro that will grab the reader’s attention; a chunk – introductory paragraph; a list – made up of bullet points and not too text heavy; and a drawing (if allowed) – e.g. a graph or photograph to get your point across in words.
8. Your writing style
Make sure you answer precisely the question that’s been asked, avoiding jargon and long words or sentences. Make sure your application comes across as credible – no spelling or grammar mistakes and accompanied by a budget that adds up and is realistic.
9. A fresh pair of eyes
Using a bid review service can give you access to a ‘critical friend’ who, using their specialist knowledge of different funding providers, can give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t work in your application.
Alternatively, pass your application to a friend or family member who knows little about the project. They will easily spot assumptions about knowledge and any poorly described areas.
10. Avoiding failure
Funding providers tell us that the majority of funding applications fail due to one or more of the following reasons: they simply weren’t eligible for support; the application was incomplete; there had been a lack of consultation with the people who were set to benefit from the funding; there were concerns about contingency; or there was a lack of dissemination demonstrated regarding project outcomes.
Whether you are looking for funding for staff training, equipment, taking on a new member of staff or to cover marketing costs, j4bGrants can help you identify suitable funding opportunities that match your project’s aims.