Before you can apply for grants, you need to make sure that your organisation is ready. Do you have all the things that funders will be looking for? Is everyone you work with keen to play their part?
Start by making sure you have the basics in place. Often you’ll need to send evidence of these things with your grant application. Lots of people worry about this part of applying for grants. It’s normal to feel daunted. Once you practice going step by step through budgets and cash flow it gets easier.
Funders need to know a bit about how you run your organisation. They need to decide whether they trust you to manage their money well. Different funders ask for different things, but you should plan to be able to cover all the things on this list as the minimum.
All funders will need some evidence that what you do or want to do is useful and needed. As a general rule, the more money you're applying for, the stronger that evidence will need to be. The items in this list start with those that are easiest to get. You’ll only need the later items for larger grants.
Funders need to understand what your organisation wants to do and how it wants to do it. Different funders ask for this in different ways. You'll usually need to explain what your organisation does and what the project does.
A great way to prepare for that is to see if you can answer questions that they’ll often ask. These questions also form the start of strategic planning for your organisation.
This is what you want to achieve, the change you want to see in the world because of what you do.
This is what you're going to do to make that change happen in the broadest sense. It should share themes with your charitable objects or other similar statements in your constitution. It doesn’t need to use exactly the same language. It should be quite short.
This breaks the vision and mission statement down into smaller parts. A project might be working across all those parts or one of them.
These are the differences that you want your project to make. As you work on your project and grant bid you’ll have to decide how you can measure whether they are happening or not.
These are the things that you'll do to make the project happen. The number of sessions you want to run, the number of people you want to engage.
You can get started with grant funding before you can nail down all these answers. All it takes to be grant ready is to be willing to think about those questions and ready to work out how to answer them. When you write each grant application you will need to choose the answers that are most relevant to each grant.
Grant funders often complain that people apply without really explaining how they will use the money. You can stand out from other applicants by planning well. It takes time but it is worth the effort.
Most grant funding is for projects. That means activity that:
Often the funder will ask you to show that the project is at least one of these things:
To prepare for finding grants you need to be very clear about what you need the money for. Most grants involve working with people in some way and you'll need to be able to talk about:
You won’t need to be certain about all these things, especially not the numbers. You do need to have thought it through well enough to put it on paper. You'll need to explain changes later if you find things turn out differently. If you have planned well, those conversations should go smoothly.
Some grants are not for projects that fit this model. Some funds are specifically for building projects or equipment (capital grants) that will have a different set of questions. A very small number of funders accept applications for your core (running) costs and don’t need projects. For these you will often need to answer the same type of questions across everything you do.
Grant applications need a lot of planning and information. Delivering the projects that grants fund often also needs a lot of extra work. It can be very easy for someone writing grant bids to try and do it all on their own. But that is not the best way.
Here are some ways to get more people from your organisation involved. Pick the ones that work best for you.
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