Writing Successful Funding Applications

Top tips to improve your applications to funders.

Almost all funders require the applicant to be a registered charity or at least be governed by a constitution. Further information about how to become a charity can be gained from NICVA’s Governance and Charity Advice Team.

Reasons why applications succeed

  • Application is received by the date and time
  • All supporting documents asked for are enclosed
  • Funder has enough time before the project is due to commence to consider the application
  • There is strong evidence to say that the project is needed
  • Application is made to right funder
  • Application is innovative and has new ideas 
  • Project budget is accurate
  • There is something unique about application
  • Applicant has an amiable working relationship with the funder
  • Organisation has a good track record and reputation

Three steps

Plan your project

Give your project a name – make it sound interesting and relevant. Be innovative and say what is unique about your project so that it stands out.
Your plans should include:

  • The need –evidence of research you have done into the need
  • Outcomes you want to achieve – how your project will meet the need
  • Aims and objectives (should be specific, measureable, achievable, realistic and time bound - SMART)
  • Actions/activities to deliver the objectives
  • Resources you need 
  • Costs associated with delivery of project
  • Measurement - How you will know you have achieved the outcomes and met the needs

Find a funder

Look for a funder that funds what you want to do, you can use search engines or resources such as GrantTracker to search on line. You can also attend funders’ fairs or contact funders directly to ask them. NICVA, community networks and local councils can advise on possible suitable funders.

When searching for funders consider different angles to approach the search. For example if it is a sporting project for young people, consider searching under sport, health, youth, disadvantaged communities, families.

Apply for funding

This is the part that you combine the project with the funder’s criteria. This will mean reviewing your project plan against the funder’s guidelines, and may mean changing your plan to meet specific requirements that the funder has. Always ensure that you read the guidelines and use them when completing the application, make sure you fully complete it. It is a good idea to ask someone else to read and give feedback on your form. Don’t forget to include all supporting documents and send everything before deadline. Always allow extra time for unexpected delays so that you get it in on time.

Some things to think about when writing the application:

  • See yourself through the eyes of the funder
  • Make sure you are eligible
  • Be clear and concise 
  • Prepare by gathering all relevant material
  • Use guidelines provided
  • Give time to write it, don’t leave it to the last minute so you have time to review and amend
  • Ensure you understand what is being asked in each question, if not ask 
  • Use the same language as funder

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