Hints and Tips when seeking Funding and SupportOffaly Community Forum aims through its website project to provide up to date information about grants and supports as they are announced. The Forum recommends the following guidelines when considering or preparing funding applications.
- Be selective about the funds you apply for, make sure they are appropriate for your project
- Are small funds worth the effort required in applying and subsequent reporting on spending?
- Once-off funding may create expectation among your community and force your organisation to seek replacement funding from another source in subsequent years
- Has your organisation the financial and human resources needed to produce the supporting information your funder may require such as interim reports, an annual report or audited accounts?
Research your Funders
Draw up a list of potential funders and ask the following key questions:
- What are they interested in?
- What kind of organisations and projects have they funded in the past?
- Are their funds appropriate for your organisation?
- What size, type and duration of grants or supports do they give?
- What are their requirements for supporting information, documentation and accountability?
- What are their closing dates?
Structure of an Application
Where a formal application form does not exist, be sure to include the following information:
- What the organisation is
- The general need that it meets
- The specific needs that it meets
- The specific needs that the fund will meet
- Exactly what the organisation plans
- How the proposal will be carried out
- How much money is required
- How its other funding needs will be met
- The expected out comes of the project. A key question may be the number of people that will benefit
- Why the funder should be interested
Quality of supporting information
Many funders require supporting information and documentation to accompany an application. They do so in order to gain a wider view of the organisation that might not be apparent from the application form. The type of documentation that may be required includes:
- Mission or Vision Statement
- Annual report
- Set of Accounts (possibly audited)
- General information leaflets, newsletters, brochures
- List of publications
- Newspaper clippings
- Posters of events organised
- Letters of thanks and support
- Video about the organisation’s work
- Maps and an area profile
- External evaluations
Why Applications are rejected
Projects are generally turned down for funding because of the following:
- Inappropriate application
- Fail to make a case
- Lack of clarity
- Lack of financial control in track record
- Fund is not essential to the project being carried out
- Failure to produce basic documents
- Project is political or too controversial
Relationships with Funders
Maintaining a good relationship with past or future funders is an essential part of the work of a community or voluntary group. Be sure to:
- Make verbal contact with at least one person in the organisation
- Avoid canvassing if specifically stated that canvassing will disqualify
- Add the agency to your Newsletter mailing list
- Ensure you are on the mailing list of the organisation
- Send progress reports to your funder whether or not this is required
- Invite funders to open days, launches etc.
Costing a Proposal
A voluntary organisation or group must show that it is solvent, secure and sensible with its money. In budgeting a proposal a voluntary or community organisation needs to take account of the following elements in its proposal:
- It must be specific, for an identifiable area of spending
- It must be important to the project, with significant impact
- It must be realistic and achievable
- It should be value for money
- It must address a definable, clearly spelt out need
- It should be relevant to the funder’s known interests and criteria
- The amount should be within the parameters of the funder – not too large for it to support, nor too small for it to be interested.
It is important that an application is kept short, that every word counts, and that basic information is not repeated. For longer applications where they are permitted it is important;
- Not to crowd out the text
- To leave some white space on each page
- To use tables and graphs to break up text
- To use a new page for a new section
- Include contents and tables at the start
Further Information and Support:
Contact your local Area Forum for advice, training and support.
With grateful thanks to CAFÉ – Creative Activity for Everyone. Further information can be obtained in the CAFÉ Funding Handbook. A new edition of this handbook will be published in Spring 2003.