Selecting a grant funder

People new to grant 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) to help local voluntary and community organisations with basic information about funding sources. Or alternatively contact WCVA's Helpdesk who can carry out specific funding searches for members.

Both organisations should be able to help you build up a list of funding bodies, useful tips on applying to funders and provide you with contacts for further information. You will then need to contact each funder separately for an application form and further details by visiting their website, emailing or phoning.


Before you even start to write applications it is essential to spend time first screening potential funding sources. Doing so will greatly enhance your chance of raising funds and in the long run, save you time and energy. In general, there are a broad range of funding sources:

The guidance given in the funding sources section should help you begin to screen these broad channels and identify potential funders. Don't go into too much detail at the screening stage. Simply identify the broad categories that may be applicable to your organisation. 


Having compiled a list of funders whom you think may be appropriate now is the time to do more in depth research.

  • Find out as much as you can about them by looking at their website and also in grant giving guides and other publications
  • Eligibility - will all points be met?
  • Timings for bid / delivery of project - feasible or not?
  • Availability / level of funding
  • Budget - match funding available?
  • What geographical areas do they cover?
  • Have they given to similar causes/projects in the past?
  • How often do they meet to award grants?
  • What monitoring requirements come with the funding?

Remember to sign up to Funding news or look at funding updates for all the latest funding opportunities.


It's incredible how many applications are made which do not meet the eligibility criteria. This more closely detailed research can be done by sending off for eligibility criteria by mail, visiting websites or over the telephone. Don't forget the latter, or indeed workshops or training events which some funders run to help you make a more effective application. It's not in the funders' interest to receive a heap of ineligible applications; so, if in doubt, don't be shy about asking and ensuring that you are eligible before you spend time form filling.

Level of funding

It is also important to consider developing a diversity of funding streams. Just because one funder might give you all you need doesn't necessarily make it sensible to accept. What if, for example, the local authority agrees to fund you to 90 per cent of your project cost but changes its priorities after the first 2-3 years and cuts your funding?

You may also like to draw a hierarchy or pyramid of funding sources ranked by the amount you are seeking. This will give you a ready sense of the extent to which you are reliant on each source and may also be a good idea to postpone big applications until you have built up your 'fund worthiness' by attracting smaller, possibly more readily accessible pots.