Fundraising, Funding sources, Writing applications

Five tips for successful fundraising

Discover the best way to write applications to gain the attention of Grant-making Trusts & Foundations and other grant funders.

With well over 8,000 grant-making trusts in the UK this can represent a significant income stream for many charitable organisations. During the Covid crisis some funders have turned all their attention to helping charities through the pandemic along with other funders also having emerged during this period. Lots of these funders are unique and quirky so the tips below should help you to be successful with a wide range of them.

1. Research

A vital part of the process. You can’t find out much about some of the smaller trusts but lots do share info in various ways so become a detective. Discover as much information as you can before you start on your application. One thing especially is to find out who founded the trust and why as this often gives valuable insights into the funders thinking, values and overall ethos.

2. Make it personal

Having researched and found out info about the funder, ensure you apply to THEM and don’t just send a standard (ish) type application. Write in their tone, share how you fulfil their objectives and reflect back some of their language.

3. Don’t waffle

People involved in shortlisting and final decision-making have to read a lot of applications / proposals. So make it concise and punchy! This then has the added advantage of helping it to stand out from the others. Also, do remember a word count is a limit not a target! Linked with this is the ‘flow’. On reading many applications they have the ‘cart before the horse’! All the info is basically there but in the wrong order and the way it’s presented isn’t engaging. Think about the opening few lines; will it grab someone’s attention and encourage them to keep reading and interest them?

4. Change your shoes!

So often fundraisers approach the process from this position: an organisation wanting money. Change it round! Wear the funders’ shoes and think like them. Ask yourself things such as – what do I need to know? What’s important to me? Do I know what my money will achieve and why is it needed in the first place, etc.? Let the answers then inform your writing. Remember all the questions around outcomes and impact are because funders really want to know how their money will make a difference to the situation you are aiming to change and improve. If there’s no change then there’s no point funding you!

5. Submission deadlines

Some funders only start to look at applications after the closing date but others start the sifting process as they come in. If you leave it to the deadline there may be no opportunity due to the funders’ timeline to come back to you for additional info. However, if you submit two/three weeks early there could be a chance to get in touch for them to clarify something. Also, if you leave it the twelfth hour this may, subliminally or actually, be demonstrating that your organisation isn’t very efficient and leaves things right to the last minute and aren’t effective planners!


Find out more on our Proposal Writing – Developing your Skills online course on Tuesday 26 January.