Every grant is different, and so your applications should be.

Grants enable you to do work you might never do otherwise. You may decide to apply for grants when you are wanting to start a new project or expand an existing project and these costs cannot be covered in your current budget.

Funders require specific information about how their money will be spent and what it will help you achieve. 

A grant encourages more collaboration between the funder and the recipient organisation, but donations tend to me much more flexible. Your financial plan should include more than one source of income.

Before you apply

Consult your local community – consultation events, using social media (such as surveys), focus groups and questionnaires,  uncover what local needs are and can be included in your grant application to evidence why a project is needed.

Ensure your finances are well organised – you will need to show your finances are well managed such as in the form of annual reports and accounts.

Read the funding criteria – each funder has their own priorities so read any specific guidelines and check exclusions e.g. geographical area, organisational income threshold.

Clarify who is responsible for the grant application (a dedicated fundraiser or wider team) - make sure there is adequate time and support to apply.

Plan your work carefully – consider who the beneficiaries are, where the activity will take place, who will organise and run it, what it will involve, how long it will last, how it will be promoted. 

Evidence of Need

You should have decided what the outcomes or benefits will be from your proposed project. Funders will need to be convinced why the grant is needed and how their money will make a difference to people's lives. There are a number of things that can provide evidence of need.

1. Statistics - recent and relevant statistics can justify your aims, back up your statements and funders know that decisions based on data provide better results. 

2. Established priorities - It can be useful to show how what you're proposing fits in with priorities of significant organisations in your area. 

3. Identifying gaps in service and provision - There are many partnerships and organisations that have information about where and how services operate. Contacting them can be a first step in identifying if there really is a gap in your area that your activity will target. If you find there is a similar project running which you didn't know about originally, it may be worth working collaboratively.

4. Evidence from beneficiaries - Involvement from service users shows your project is responsive and the best way to meet the needs of your target group. Evidence could include quotes from the intended beneficiaries, letters of local support, extracts from case studies of those previously who have benefitted from your services, recent consultation (surveys/questionnaires, focus groups, pilot-project)

Supporting Documents 

Good documentation tells the story of your organisation.

The grant guidelines should provide you with a list of what to include. Common documents that are asked for are:

  • Governing document - shows how your charitable purpose aligns with funder objectives and eligibility criteria of the grant. 
  • Your most recent accounts
  • Details of your management committee
  • Depending on the nature of your project, Safeguarding policy and Equality policy
  • Risk assessments - shows that you've considered potential risks and you are equipped to deal with them in an efficient manner. 

Some funders may give you the option to send supporting documents alongside your application. This is a great opportunity to reinforce the case you've made in your application with valuable examples such as: 

  • photographs
  • testimonials
  • diagrams
  • results of surveys or focus groups
  • case studies

Budget Breakdown

A grant budget is useful for both you and the grant maker. It sets you up to launch your project with a well-defined financial plan, making management easier along the way.

You will need to work out what your project will cost. Include a list of everything you will have to pay for, the amount each item will cost and the number of each item. Be as accurate as possible by obtaining quotes for items in your budget. This will also provide you with confidence that you can execute your project within the proposed budget.

The grant budget section of your application will be where you record any additional funding sources you’ve acquired.

See Useful Links below NCVO Article 5 ' Preparing your budget' guidance and tips. 

Match Funding

Most grant funders will want you to have some income from at least one other source. This is known as match funding. Match funding gives them the reassurance that you are serious about the project being invested in and that you are able to raise adequate funds to support it. 

In-kind Funding

This is funding that is non-cash funding and covers support from other sources and contributions. Examples include volunteers, donations of goods and materials, donated services from professionals such as legal advice etc.

Thinking about your whole funding mix is crucial to make your activities sustainable.

What to do Next

When your application is successful:

Send requested paperwork promptly – many grant programmes require you to accept the grant funds formally (e.g., a phone call, electronic signature, signed form). There may also be additional conditions the funder needs assurances of before payment can be awarded.

Read grant conditions carefully – they will often include budget conditions, monitoring requirements and contact information.

Have a system for monitoring and evaluating – continually check whether you’re meeting your aims or outcomes.

Send an annual report or other documentation associated with the funded project – highlighting successes helps build a strong relationship with the funders.

When your application is unsuccessful:

Read or ask for feedback – it may be that they’ve received many good quality applications and to apply again at the next round.

Don’t be disheartened – Feedback is well considered and well-intended, it’s given for you to be more successful in future grant applications.

Check if or when you can apply again – consider the feedback and decide whether the grant is still a good match for the project you’ve proposed.

Whether you’ve been successful with your application or not, it’s best to express gratitude to the funder for considering your application as there may be future partnership opportunities.

Useful Links

Two Riding Community Foundation - Reading Guidance Notes

NCVO All about grants. There are 6 Articles to help prepare you  for applying for grants. Including:

  1. Deciding to apply for a grant
    Guidance to help you decide whether applying for a grant is the best option for you for example your status as an organisation as nearly all funders will need you to have a constitution.
  2. Getting ready to apply
    What you need to apply for a grant such as making sure you have everything a funder needs such as how your group is run so they can trust you to manage their money well.
  3. Understanding a grant fund
    Learn about what a grant fund is and how it works from picking the right grant to checking published critera.
  4. Writing your application
    Learn about how to write an application such as classic mistakes to avoid and telling your story.
  5. Preparing your budget
    Guidance on preparing your budget such as working out how much your project will cost.
  6. After you apply
    Guidance on what happens and what to do whilst waiting to hear including do's and don'ts for example do apply for other grants and don't start your project


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