Skip the primary navigation if you do not want to read it as the next section.
Skip the main content if you do not want to read it as the next section.
|Don’t get caught up sending funding applications just because you might get lucky, make them count. Jay Kennedy, DSC’s Head of Policy goes over some of the top tips to keep your applications on track.|
When we are focussed on the importance of our cause and the needs of those we are trying to help, it can be tempting to fire off an application for any funding opportunity which seems remotely possible. This is understandable, but the reality is that it’s far better to invest the time in finding the right funders to approach – to focus on quality not quantity.
This isn’t just true for the individual fundraiser – in a way a similar logic applies to the whole funding ‘system’ (for lack of a better word).
DSC research now shows that over one-third of applications to UK charitable grantmakers are ineligible, according to the funders. That’s over 360,000 applications in one year which simply went in the bin.
A big part of the problem is that too often funders aren’t sufficiently clear about what they want to fund and how their process works – leaving it up to the applicant to guess. Too many of them don’t respond adequately to queries or provide feedback, with the result that the fundraiser doesn’t know where they stand.
But talk to any funder and they will also tell you how exasperating it is to open envelope after envelope containing applications which don’t show any knowledge of the guidelines or criteria which they have made available.
Funders might want to provide better feedback and engagement to the best applicants, but find their resources are limited too – and they’re drowning in administration.
The good news is if you do your homework and target your efforts on the funders that are the best bet – if you make sure you are eligible – then your chance of success goes way up. So don’t let your bid be one that ends up in the bin.
Top tips for applicants – make your fundraising efforts count
- Read the guidance - it’s there for a reason (if it isn’t, ask whether there is any)
- If the guidelines don’t make sense, or you’re not sure whether you might be eligible, try to speak to the funder about your questions and what they’re looking for.
- Do your research. It is really worthwhile to spend enough time trying to find a funder which is right for you. Fundraising appeals which begin with ‘I know you don’t usually fund this…’ are unlikely to succeed.
- Do NOT send blanket appeals – they only mean funders have less time to give proper bids the consideration they deserve.
- Do ask questions if you’re not sure if you’re eligible, especially if the application process is informal (i.e. there isn’t a standard form).
- Ensure your application is clear, concise, and as jargon-free as possible – they are unlikely to know what you are asking for if it is shrouded in unclear language. Avoid acronyms and abbreviations that the person reading the application will not understand.
Top tips for funders – reduce the burden of ineligible applications
- Provide comprehensive and accessible information about what you do and what you want to fund, preferably online if you have a website.
- Ensure your application guidance is clear, concise, and as jargon-free as possible. Encourage prospective applicants to read it.
- Clearly explain the application procedure – what information will be required, by when, and in what form.
- Recognise the benefits of providing constructive feedback at all points of the application process, especially when an application is rejected – this should make it less likely that the applicant submits the same ineligible bid again and again.
- Provide a clear contact point for any queries, together with instructions on how you prefer to be contacted, and when the fundraiser can expect a response.
- If you are receiving huge numbers of applications which don’t meet your criteria, keep track of them and do some analysis to see if any patterns emerge. Consider how the information you provide to applicants could be changed to reduce the number.