What skills do we need?
There is no mythical art or magic formula that ensures
fundraising success. What is required is a good, clearly defined
and costed project that is presented well to the appropriate
funder. Below are some of the skills that you need to put together
a good application.
People new to funding often do not know where to start. But this
is by far the easiest problem to solve. It is the job of your county
voluntary council (CVC) and WCVA to help with basic information about funding
sources and conduct specific funding searches. Alternatively, you
can carry out a funding
search. You will then need to contact each funder separately
for an application form and further details by visiting their
website, emailing or phoning. You also need to gather statistics or
information to demonstrate that there is a need
for your project.
Funding is essentially about selling a good idea to someone who
has the money or resources to make it happen. If you can interest
them in your idea they will want to support you. So it is vital
that you argue a good case and present it well. Choose someone who
can write clearly and concisely to present your project to funders.
Knowing where to start can be one of the hardest parts of writing
an application. To help with this process it is worth getting a
small group together to gather ideas and suggestions for answering
Most funders receive thousands of requests each year. Think
carefully about how you can make your application or proposal stand
out from the crowd. At the very least you should be aware of the
traps that could prevent your application getting the attention it
deserves. Useful tips on completing funding
proposals and applications is also available.
Choose someone who is able to realistically cost your project
and specify the amount of funding you need by producing a budget. You also need to keep
an eye on the finances once you get the funding. Check against budgets, timetables, objectives and
outcomes. Make adjustments if you are going off course. This
will help demonstrate your effective use of funding and strengthen
your next application for funding.
How do we improve our applications?
Inevitably some applications will fail, when this happens do not
become despondent. It can happen to some of the best projects and
experienced fundraisers. An application may fail for a number of
reasons, some of which are out of your control. Here are some of
the common reasons for failure.
Not meeting funders' criteria or missing
This can be one of the most common and frustrating reasons for
failure. It is also one that can be easily avoided. Many funders
will be happy to discuss a project outline and its suitability for
funding saving both time and effort by the applicant and the
funder. Always check and double check the funders' criteria. Give
yourselves plenty of time to complete the application. It often
takes longer than you think especially if you have to provide
accounts or annual reports to accompany your submission.
Application is unclear
This can result from using language that is complex and flowery
or simply that the funder could not understand what you wanted the
money for. Getting someone from outside the organisation to read
your application is a good way to ensure it is clear and easy to
understand. Funders should be able to read a brief project
description and understand exactly what you want to do and how you
intend to do it.
Need for project not demonstrated
Applications showing little or no evidence of need are
unlikely to be supported. If you have evidence, then use it and say
where the information came from. A funder will not be in a position
to find out if there is a need for your work and are unlikely to
presume there is one simply because you have said so. They will
want hard evidence in black and white!
Another common reason for failure is poor budgeting. Typically
this is because projects are not realistically costed, perhaps
figures are inflated or underestimated, or simply unclear. Be clear
about what you are spending the money on, remembering you may have
to justify the costs with the funder. Base your budget on up to date quotes or
data from similar projects, which can form the basis of your
Sometimes with all the information requested in an application
it easy to forget or overlook the extra items such as the latest
bank balance or copies of your governing document or constitution.
Some funders give a checklist of all the information they require
which helps ensure that all the correct documents are sent with the
application. Where checklists are not given, pay particular
attention to guidance notes to check what documents are being
requested. Also be aware that funders may ask for multiple copies
of certain documents. While some funders may go back to an
applicant for missing information, others will either not have the
time or the desire.
Bids to benefit organisations, not people
A funding application or bid to keep your group (or even to keep
you in a job) is less attractive to a funder than one to provide a
much needed service. Similarly, 'we need a computer' has less
impact than 'with a computer we could keep records more
efficiently, freeing time to spend with our service users'.
Can I get training on fundraising?
Your county voluntary
council and WCVA
offer affordable and accessible training courses on fundraising and
sustainable funding. For information on dates and locations of
courses, contact WCVA's Helpdesk on 0800 288 329,
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.coursesforcommunities.org.uk