1 Before you start
Before you start:
- read the application form, guidelines and small print
- check the deadline date and method of submission
- decide whether you can realistically meet the deadline
- consider whether the size of the award will justify the cost of making the bid
- find out whether any information is available on the size of the fund or the expected number of applicants
- check if you are eligible to bid and ask the funder if you are not sure
- make sure you understand the assessment process
- decide who will complete the form, and when
- try and find out who will assess your bid
- ask the funder or project group any questions as soon as possible.
2 Consider other funding options
Consider whether there are other ways to find money by:
- checking West Sussex 4 Funding to find out about local funding opportunities
- talking to other organisations and groups like yours and sharing knowledge
- contacting us or our list of useful contacts or your district or borough council for guidance, information and support
- ‘surfing the net’ for useful sources of information.
Prepare a project outline
- Decide what your organisation wants to deliver.
- Produce a 3-page outline or business plan that covers organisation information, project description and need, and includes any project systems. This proposal could be the basis for a series of bids to fund your project.
Prepare a budget
- Include all your planned expenditure and make sure it is costed realistically.
- Include all eligible overheads in your budget.
- Make sure you are clear that your project presents value for money.
- Allow for inflation if the project will be running over several years.
- Check the eligibility for match funding.
- Check all your figures add up and ask someone to double-check them.
- Don’t be greedy or underestimate what you will need. The funder will have a good idea what projects usually cost and whether your application is realistic.
Identify possible partners
- Consider the needs of your project and any gaps in your ability, such as capacity or expertise.
- Identify partners to meet these gaps – define why they will be involved, what they will be committing to and how much funding they will bring to the project.
- Explain how the partnership will be managed – consultation, partnership contract, reporting systems, meetings and so on.
4 Writing the bid
- Start writing early.
- Be clear, concise and don’t repeat yourself.
- Follow application guidance closely - expanding text boxes or using the wrong font, for example, can make an application ineligible.
- Respond to the criteria, not necessarily the question.
- Make sure you understand the difference between 'outputs' and 'outcomes' as funders will want your outcomes to clearly link to their objectives or criteria.
- Think like an assessor rather than an applicant and ask yourself whether you would approve your bid.
- Use the funder’s language in your response.
- Make sure your presentation looks good and reads well – use paragraphs and tables to make it easier to read and score.
- Don’t add information that is not required.
- Use pictures, charts and diagrams wherever possible.
- Highlight key sentences in italics or bold.
- Don’t be afraid of stating the risks associated with your project. The funder will want to see that you have thought about what could go wrong and that you have a plan for how you would deal with this.
5 Supporting information
There may be a number of documents or other information that could be requested to back up your bid. Be factual and quote from sources or refer to relevant documents. This may include background or organisational information, such as:
- local strategies
- information from relevant charities
- partners or potential partners
- consultation feedback
- reviews or annual reports
- a constitution
- promotional material.
6 Final checks
- Allow time for final checking and getting feedback well in advance of the deadline to be able to take comments on board.
- Ask for feedback from specific colleagues and partners with specialist knowledge.
- Use a ‘critical friend’ to provide general objective feedback on a bid, its structure and approach.
7 Why some bids fail
Bids sometimes fail because:
- applications are ineligible or incomplete
- evidence of its need or added value is not supplied
- there is insufficient planning or budget
- your organisation has a poor track record
- not enough match funding was identified
- there was stiff competition
- the minimum standards were not met, for example, for equal opportunities
- the project may not be suitable for one-off payment if it's ongoing and there is no exit strategy.