Never, ever assume that the funder knows who you are and what you do, even if they do (right now). Write everything down that you can think of to describe you, the area you operate in and the people in it, everything that’s relevant,
Write as though you are talking to a nine-year-old. Keep the wording simple and don’t overcomplicate. In a recent conversation with someone who used to assess research grants, she also expressed how sometimes we’re so far above the heads of the assessment panel, they had no idea what the project was about.
Make sure the budget adds up. Income in must equal expenses out. That applies to cash and in-kind contributions. When working out project staffing costs, show how you worked out the figures.
Another budget tip. The budget must mirror the story in the application. Don’t ask for funding for activities or items that aren’t obvious in the application.
It’s not really about you. It’s about what you can do to contribute to somebody else’s Vision. Take government funding, for example. The funding follows the Policy Framework. Make friends with Policy Directions and use them to figure out where the money tap will be turned on. Don’t forget, you’ve got to deliver what you promise.
Asking if you’ve applied for funding from elsewhere is not a trick question. Some funders prefer to contribute to a project rather than carry the full financial risk. Just make sure you don’t get funded twice to do the same thing.
Before you do anything else, read the guidelines. Home in on the eligibility criteria to find out if you are eligible. So many applications get abandoned because the pen throws caution to the wind.
The criteria questions follow a similar format – what do you want to do, what’s the need, what difference are you going to make, who will manage the project, and how much do you want? Use these questions to brainstorm ideas ready for the next opportunity.
A good way to work out what’s involved in your project and break down the tasks is to get together a group of people with post-it notes. Order the notes in groups and then in order of action. Before you know it you’ve got a comprehensive GANNT or PERT chart that you can transfer into project management software.
If the project is complex with a governance structure, develop a system for communication and reporting and incorporate it into the application to demonstrate top-down as well as bottom-up accountability.