Tips for winning contracts

10 Nov 2014 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 12 Jan 2016

We need to keep learning how to earn – making sure that our staff, board and other volunteers understand the potential of earned income and invest in essential skills such as preparing tenders and market research.

Public policy has been shifting from using grants to using contracts where services are commissioned or purchased. More and more public sector bodies such as the Government departments, NHS and local councils are contracting services from the voluntary and community sector. An increasing number of voluntary and community organisations are learning how to sell their services, research potential markets and position themselves in competition with others. Competitiveness will always be a constant challenge so being prepared is vital. The key thing is to keep abreast of those opportunities advertised or sent to a select list and to be ready respond because deadlines can often be short.

Some tips for winning contracts are below:

  1. Check your sources regularly
  2. Develop your relationships – commissioners and partners
  3. Have an up to date capacity statement ready
  4. Consider the brief early as there is often a specified time in which you can ask clarifying questions to the commissioner.
  5. Give good examples related to the work with specific, factual evidence
  6. Think full cost recovery and present budget exactly as they have requested
  7. Use a Gantt chart to show your project delivery timescale
  8. Clearly demonstrate that you can effectively manage the project
  9. Sell your added value – skills, experience, networks
  10. Ensure document looks good, is clear and easy to understand

NICVA is offering a two-day course on 21 and 28 January 2016 on Writing Effective Tenders.   This two day course helps to dispel your fears around tendering and demystify the language and processes involved. Participants are walked through the overall process of tendering and instructed in how to make it easier through pre-tender preparation.'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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