5 top tips for charity proposal writing

Make your proposal irresistible to potential funders.

Securing funding from a trust, company or even a public authority can make a massive difference to your beneficiaries. However, getting your hands on that essential funding means you must ensure your bid stands out from the sea of proposals being sent to potential funders. Check out these 5 top tips that’ll point you in the right direction when getting to work on your bid.

1. Get your story straight

The very first thing to ask yourself is ‘do you know what your organisation’s vision and mission is?’ Regardless of the type of fundraising, whether it’s writing a bid, using direct marketing or putting on an event, the planning must come from this key starting point.  If this isn’t clear, then get round a table with the CEO, Trustees, front line staff and service users and get this down- it will prove vital when getting started on your proposal. Fundraisers aren’t magicians, so you need to get that clarity of thought to create a compelling bid.

2. Find your hook and get emotive

Once you have your organisation’s mission clear in your mind it’s time to sell that vision. The best way to do this is to get under the skin of the assessor/ person reading your bid. Think about questions they may ask, such as; what is the need your charity meets? What if your organisation didn’t exist/wasn’t delivering this project? A great example of a charity finding their hook and leveraging support from it, is Save the children with their ‘No child born to die’ campaign. They highlighted how without this campaign there would be a continuation of deaths of children under 5 from preventable diseases. Another organisation taking advantage of their unique hook is the National Trust with their ‘For ever, For everyone’ campaign that allows them to restore and care for historic properties that can in turn be enjoyed by everyone. It is up to you to find this for your organisation and use it in your proposal.

3. Tell the stories of your beneficiaries

This is essentially a case study BUT it’s really another part of the storytelling. Rather than labelling the section ‘case studies’ which makes the process seem cold and clinical, call it ‘Our stories’ and show whoever is reading your proposal the real stories from real people who are benefiting from the work of your charity.

4. Use data and hard facts

Whether it’s using cost benefit analysis figures or fiscal savings, facts are undeniably a huge persuasive technique. Yet, it is important to remember that whatever the facts may be, you should weave the data in amongst the storytelling to create the most impact on the proposal reader.

5. Find your own rhythm

You need to ask yourself ‘what do I need to do so I can produce the best bid?’ It may be; write drunk, edit sober or whatever works for you.  Find your rhythm as a bid writer. Do you write best in the morning, late at night, at home, your local coffee shop, or the office? (I doubt it on the last one, especially if you’re employing the first suggestion!)  Another thing to organise is the use of dummy deadlines. It is essential to build at least 3 weeks in for internal staff and another week for you to edit. Read. Edit. Submit. Breathe. Start again.

A well-honed case for support, stellar research and some creativity to boot = killer bidss