How to Write a Successful Funding Bid

When you are focused on a brilliant idea or a crucial project, writing a funding bid can slip down your to do list. You know why the funder should allocate some of their money to your work, and you are optimistic that they will see it too. However, funds are receiving more applications than ever, and with more pressure on spending and scrutiny on how funds are spent, it is crucial that you spend time writing a compelling bid.

Targeting the right funds for your project

The work begins before you start even writing the bid. Take time to thoroughly review every element of the funding documents and, beyond that, the funding organisation’s values. Make a table with the following columns:

  • Criteria – This should include every single thing that the bid requires for you to be compliant and successful, which could include specific outcomes that your project must achieve, types of insurance that your organisation must hold, values that you must be able to evidence
  • Fully meet – Mark this column if you already meet the criteria and can evidence it
  • In progress – Mark this column if you are working towards one of the criteria and you can evidence it, for example if you are working towards becoming a Real Living Wage-accredited organisation and can demonstrate this but have not yet received certification
  • Possible – Mark this column if you could meet this requirement if it was essential to receiving the funding and achievable before the funding starts, for example if you could take out a required necessary insurance policy
  • Will not meet – Mark this if a requirement is unachievable for you before the funding starts

This exercise will show you whether you actually can meet the criteria. If you have marked ‘Will not meet’ for any of the requirements, if there is an opportunity to ask questions, then raise this with them and ask if they would accept an alternative, for example, a process map if you do not have an approved quality management system.

If they say that alternatives are not acceptable, or if there is no opportunity to ask questions, then you are unlikely to be successful and should find a more suitable fund.

Maximising your prospects by utilising the whole process

When you are confident that you can meet the requirements, plan how you will make use of the whole process. This could include:

  • Planning ahead – Some funding processes can take up to a year to complete, so factor this in when choosing funds to apply for
  • Discussing with a grant manager – If there is an opportunity to discuss your bid with a grant manager, then try to book a call as soon as possible
  • Asking questions – If there is an opportunity to ask questions, then ask them
  • Staying organised – Deadlines and word counts do matter, and funding bids that are over word count or submitted late are often rejected. Make sure you diarise key dates, block out time in your schedule to write responses and edit them, and ask someone to read your response before you submit
  • Making your first impression count – Funders are reading more applications than ever, so make yours appealing. Use consistent formatting and clearly structure your document. If an executive summary is permitted, use this to concisely tell funders what they will get for their money

Telling your compelling story while meeting the funder’s requirements

It is tempting to tell the funder about how exciting your project or idea is and expect them to be persuaded by its potential and your enthusiasm. However, with so much scrutiny around how funds are allocated, you need to make sure you are meeting the funder’s requirements while telling your story. There are some ways you can do this that will make your narrative even more convincing:

  • Give evidence for what you are saying – You know your topic better than anyone and you are already convinced. You need to bring the funder along with you and the best way to do this is to back up everything you say with evidence. For example, instead of saying ‘We need to get more girls interested in science’, you could say ‘Only 28% of the STEM workforce are women, and research to date has shown that this needs to be addressed while girls are still at school’
  • Be specific and measurable – The funder needs to have a clear indication of the return they will get on their investment. Instead of saying ‘This project will get more girls interested in science’, state specific demographics and outcomes: ‘We have scheduled work in 30 schools in the UK and will reach 13,500 girls aged between 11 and 18, of which we aim to get 5,000 engaged in extra-curricular STEM activities over a 6-month period’
  • Spell out why you are a perfect match for them – Make sure the funder can clearly see how you will work together to achieve this project’s impact by referencing their values and their role throughout, and make it clear that you understand how involved they want to be; are they giving you funds to work with independently, or are they anticipating a collaborative process?

Collaborate with specialist partners to make your project a success

If you need input from other organisations to make your project work, engage with them early so that you know your plan is robust.

If you need support with writing a strong funding bid, AM Bid can support you with your preparation and with structuring and writing your response. We are bid and proposal experts achieving 80% bid success rates in over 25 sectors. We specialise in telling your story in a way that resonates with decision-makers.