Planning & preparation
Getting the basics right
Before you start applying for grants, you need to make sure that
you have the basics in place. Are you a well-run organisation? Is
there a need for your project? What is the problem and suggested
solution? Are you keeping records to help complete your funding
proposals? Funders need to know that they can trust you with their
money, and that your project or organisation is likely to succeed.
These are some of the key areas you need to think about.
Know your organisation
Your management or committee should take time to discuss, and
answer some basic questions:
- Are you familiar with the organisation's mission, aims and
objectives (particularly those in the constitution)?
- Do your trustees or management committee know and understand
their role and responsibilities?
- Where do you get your money from now?
- Why do you need to raise money?
- Do you have a strategic, business and fundraising strategy or
- Good financial controls e.g. annual accounts, handling and
banking money, budgets, records of income and expenditure
- Appropriate policies e.g. Health & Safety, Equal
- What is unique about your work?
- Are there any sources of grant funding you are exempt
- Do you publicise your work appropriately?
Identification of need
It is good practice to have funding follow need rather than have
funding availability dictating action. Projects should always
support clear and identifiable priorities, usually originating from
strategic, business or fundraising strategies and plans.
It's not enough to say to possible funders 'this is what we
want'. You have to show them why it is important, so that they feel
their money will be doing something valuable.
Some useful questions to help establish need are:
- What is the main issue or problem to address?
- Who are the intended beneficiaries?
- Have you researched your need?
- What evidence do you have to support your case?
- Is anyone else addressing it? If not, why not?
Once you have established the need and said how important it is
to do something about it, you then need to show that you can offer
a particular solution. The easiest and most logical way to present
this information is to develop a business caseor proposal.
Developing a proposal is outlined in a separate section, under completing
proposals and applications, but the following may help shape
- How are you going to deliver the service in practical
- Who will be involved - dedicated staff or volunteers?
- How will they be supported?
- What do you want to achieve? Is it realistic/feasible?
- How will you know if you are achieving it?
- How much will it cost in total? Have you considered full cost
- Will your service users be involved in the decision
- Have you got the resources to carry out the work in terms of
staff, volunteers, office space, equipment, time
If you fail to keep records about the work you do, the benefits
of any planning will be lost as staff, trustees or volunteers move
on. You need a system that is easy to operate and which stores
information useful to your work and your funding applications. The
approach you adopt should be designed specifically to fit with your
own organisation, resources and activities. Make sure your files or
records are kept centrally and accessible to everyone.
You need to collect and keep information on the following:
- Organisation details
- Legal status and constitution
- People involved in your group - staff, trustees, volunteers,
- Annual reports and audited accounts
- Your users or beneficiaries of your service
- Your main financial supporters - past and present
- Grant applications and proposals
- Press cuttings and media coverage
- Facts and figures supporting your work
- Project description, aims and objectives
- Expected benefits or 'outcomes' of the project
- Evaluation and monitoring mechanisms