Start preparing well in advance
Most funding applications can take up to 8 weeks to process, for bigger amounts this can be longer. If you have a particular time frame for when you need the funding or you have a fixed date for an event for example, it is best to put in an application in plenty of time for this. Remember that some funders can get inundated with applications at certain times of the year (school holiday programs, Christmas trips/parties etc.).
Ask for help e.g. from funders and support agencies
VSGWL can offer support with proof reading completed applications to a funder. It is always good practise to get someone from outside the organisation to look over the application prior to submission. This is to be sure that you have answered the questions correctly and given an appropriate amount of information.
Make friends with your funder
Contrary to what people may think funders want to give away funding. If you are unsure if your project will fit the funding criteria or you are stuck at a question contact the funder who will be more than happy to give you advice…they don’t bite!
Be clear and decisive about what you are doing and why and about how much money you need
Be realistic about your costings and why it is the best value for the project you have in place. Be clear about the project you have in mind, who you will work with and why you want to deliver it the way you do.
Assume the funder knows nothing about you
In a lot of cases a true short sharp explanation of your group and its work is a good way to set the scene for any funders. It may be beneficial to have this on file so that you have it on hand when completing an application.
Use plain language with no jargon
We all have acronyms that your own organisation understands, funders are not looking for buzz words or your group’s version of war and peace! Tell the funder what it is you are looking for funding for and how your project will make a difference to the community client groups or members that you work with.
Show you can handle large sums of money
Funders will be very reluctant to give a large award to a relatively new organisation, building a relationship with funders and a track record to show that you can handle grants and manage project well can be useful in the long term.
Make sure all your sums add up correctly
This may sound obvious but a lot of applications fail as the budget does not add up. Get someone to look over your budget be sure that the fund will pay for the about you are asking for.
Be prepared to manage your grant properly
Remember that any external grants that you receive are restricted funding for the project you have applied for and must be spent in accordance with your application. If you feel that you may have an underspend in the project, contact the funder and let them know to discuss how best to manage this or any other issue you may have with the grant.
Give credit to the funder – publicise appropriately
This is sometimes a condition of grant even if it is not, it is good practise to recognise your funders.