1. Follow the funders criteria:
This may sound simple, but all too often many groups simply focus on what ‘they’ want and make an application for funding without carefully and accurately following what the criteria of funding bodies is.
This is likely to annoy the funders and lead to automatic rejection.
2. Don’t duplicate:
If you want to deliver activity that is the same as what the organisation around the corner is already offering, think again. Funders are very sceptical of activities that are already offered and will ask for evidence that your project will not duplicate existing provision.
3. Think out of the box:
Funding bodies are getting tired of the same old ideas. Give your bid the wow factor, how will you tackle a problem in a particularly creative or innovative way? Simply stating that you need a new community centre or a community worker is unlikely to go down well. You need to demonstrate how your project will tackle an old problem in a refreshingly effective way.
4. Find the local priorities:
Most funders want evidence that you actually know what the priorities of your Local Strategic Partnership, the Council and other strategic bodies are. These documents tell us what is needed in the local area. Your project needs to show how it will fit into this wider picture. If it doesn’t, you haven’t done your homework.
5. OK so you’ve written the bid:
BUT always contact the funder first and ask them if it’s ok for them to have a quick look and give any comments. This shows the funder you are keen, are using initiative, offers the opportunity for valuable feedback BEFORE you submit, and most importantly, it enables you to build a relationship with the funder and a chance for them to become familiar with your group, which in turn gives you credibility.
6. Find out what your community needs:
Putting in an application without properly assessing community needs and finding out what you target groups want is one of the biggest mistakes community groups can make. Simply assuming you know what the problems are will not be enough – you need to prove that this need exists and demonstrate that you have undertaken relevant consultation, including with hard to reach groups.
7. Get yourself an annual report:
An annual report for your organisation is a good way of showcasing your credibility and track record. If written and compiled properly, it can really help turn the tide in your favour and give you success in bid writing, if used in conjunction with the rest of my top ten tips.
8. Be clear about your vision:
Organisations without a vision tend to be those that run around for bits and pieces of funding from all over the place, are not sure of what they want to achieve and try to do a bit of everything. This can be disastrous for a group’s sustainability.
9. Build relationships:
Start effective networking with mainstream agencies and also with other voluntary and community groups in your area. Let them know what you offer and where relevant, how you complement their services. If the opportunity arises, don’t hesitate from partnership working with other agencies – it could enhance your credibility if done well.
10. And finally:
Ensure that your organisation’s finances are properly managed and that there is no room for poor accounting. Showing effective accountable and transparent management techniques is a major plus point for funders.
Alyas Khan is a voluntary and community sector fundraising expert, and is CEO of FundraisingExperts.co.uk and Emica Consulting.
For more information about funding and organisational support visit www.emica.co.uk or www.fundraisingexperts.co.uk
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