To stay afloat, not-for-profits rely on grants from foundations, the lottery, statutory bodies or the private sector.

Having the skills to write a successful funding application has never been more vital.

So there is a constitution, the necessary policy documents are in place, the finances are shipshape and the organisation is professional and competent, now is the chance to present your case to those generous funders.

Make friends

Show thought has gone into the application by doing your homework and tailoring applications to particular funders and grants.

Contact the funder to clarify points that you are unsure and decipher what they really want. A personal relationship will make working together better if you win the grant and may pay dividends further down the line in terms of hearing about other funds becoming available.

Tell your story

You may bleed your cause but assume the funder isn’t familiar with your organisation.

They need to know what you want to do, why, how are you going to do it,who you will work with and what the cost will be – all within the context of your wider ecosystem.

Be thorough and anticipate what queries funders might have and answer them in advance. It’s about selling your cause with conviction.

You need to persuade the potential grantmaker there is a real problem to which you already have a solution if only you had the funding.

Make an impact

An application will only be successful if it can show the clear difference the project will make.

You must present evidence about the demand for this particular service and the outcomes it will achieve.

Case studies showing previous results can indicate the level of success that can be expected.

You will be required to state the expected outcome and how it will be measured. Accountability is an important factor to consider.

A decent funder will also want to know what will happen after the funding period is over.

Word power

Try mimicking the language in funder’s guidelines. It is a good psychological trick and will also help keep you on the right course in terms of satisfying the criteria.

Be concise and specific, use simple language and stay well within the word limit. Funders read hundreds of applications so make it easy for them by using good punctuation, paragraphs and a reasonable sized font.

Getting your application proofed by impartial eyes will root out any jargon of which not-for-profits are so fond. It does not endear your cause to an outsider and will not make your organisation look more professional.

Cost it out

All the persuasive arguments in the world won’t matter if the numbers don’t add up. Check your maths and get the budget right. Asking for too much or too little money will also set the funder’s alarms bells ringing, so know the parameters or your beautifully crafted application will be heading straight for the bin.

If you need direction on how best to get your organisation funder ready, Big Heart Network would love to hear from you. Contact or join us at one of our Lunch and Learn events.