‘We often get asked what funders are looking for, especially when there is no application form and limited guidelines. The answer, unfortunately is that there is no one answer. However, don’t despair! A strong case for support is the basis of all good trust and grant fundraising applications and should incorporate all of the information we’ve outlined below in our top ten of things funders want to know about your project’:
1. Why is your project needed or, what’s the problem?
Facts and figures are important here and we can find the information needed to explain how your project fits in with local strategic plans, national policy and also look into any research which backs up your idea. What we need is detail of how this need affects your service users – what are the problems and barriers they face? Do you have any quotes or ‘case studies’ which demonstrate the need?
2. What difference will the project make?
Your project should provide a solution to the problem you have outlined above. Funders want to know what will change as a result of the project. Can you summarise this as an overall aim of the project? Do you have specific objectives or desired outcomes?
3. Who will benefit?
Think about the difference the project will make not only to your service users but also to staff and volunteers, to the way your organisation works. Then think about the local community, will they benefit? Will you share your learning with other organisations so they can benefit?
4. When and where will your project happen?
Funders want to know that you have given consideration to when and where your activities take place – they are seeking reassurance that you have properly planned the project. If you have chosen certain venues then they need to know why, if you project takes place in the evening because this is when most people are available then this needs to be clear as it demonstrates that the needs of the service users have informed the planning process.
5. How are you going to carry out your project and what you need to do it (ie equipment, premises, staff)?
Do you have a timetable of activities? how many sessions will you run? How long is each session? How many people can attend? Do you need equipment? Clear answers to all of these questions reassure funders that the project is well planned and time invested in planning helps confirm the real need for the project – rather than something cobbled together to chase the cash!
6. What does success look like?
How will you know that the project has been successful in achieving its aim(s)? This will often be soft outcomes such as ‘raised self-esteem’, ‘employability skills’, ‘increased awareness of x,y,z’ BUT it’s important to also think about numbers. How many people will benefit from the project? How many people will attend activities? How many of those do you expect will report improvements?
7. How will you measure success?
Think about the best way to demonstrate the difference your project has made – would this be measured using outcomes stars, video diaries, 1:1 interviews or perhaps a mixture of several methods. Would an external evaluation be appropriate?
8. How will the project be managed?
Who is responsible for managing the project? Is there a line management structure? Do you have supervision? Are there CV’s and Job Specs readily available for key staff? Funders also seek reassurance of a good track record in delivering projects on similar scales with similar budgets; does your organisation have these? If not then do the people working on the project have skills gained from previous roles? In addition, funders will also look at the policies that an organisation has in place, including Health and Safety, employment, child protection and equal opportunities.
9. How much money do you need?
This needs to be realistic and accurate not just a ballpark figure, if you are asking for equipment they may want to know why you have chosen certain items above others. Sometimes (especially for building or repair work) they will want to see evidence that a number of quotes have been obtained for the work. To ensure accuracy you could review what you have spent in previous years or look at the accounts of other organisations that have carried out similar activities in the past to give you an idea of the value.If you need more money than they will fund then we provide a breakdown of other potential funders and the amount requested.
11. What happens when the funding comes to an end?
Increasingly funders want to know what the ‘exit strategy’ for the project is when the funding comes to an end. Sometimes, it’s the case that the project will simply end and that’s fine but if it is your intention to continue to deliver the project then give some thought to the ways in which continuation funding may be achieved – is there potential for the project to become self-sustained? Could it be delivered as a service in the long term? If your project will simply come to an end then you’ll need to demonstrate consideration of how this will impact upon service users and how they will be supported as a service is withdrawn.