Whether your charity aims to introduce a measure that will reduce disadvantage and provide opportunities for a minority/section of society; whether it plans to provide health solutions for a specific ailment or condition; whether raising capital to create/maintain a community building or to raise awareness of an injustice…charities exist to make lives better in some way, shape or form.
Having passion for your cause is great; however, when it comes to raising funds for your charity and what you’re trying to achieve, you need to think with your head as well as be led by your heart.
Funding bodies are human and are bound to admire every good cause that comes onto their radar. However, when you have a thousand applications for a pot of money that will only fund twenty-five of them, you need to be strict and picky. Remember: that your organisation supports a good cause is not reason enough to be awarded money.
You need to truly understand the difference your project will make to the people who you believe will benefit. You should find out as much as you can about your proposed beneficiaries, i.e. their age group(s), their backgrounds, their ethnicity, their gender, etc. Most of all, you need to understand the struggle(s) they face. Why is it your charity’s responsibility to provide support for them—can they not access it anywhere else? And if not, why is this? What would be the outcome if your beneficiaries didn’t receive your support? How would their lives be impacted in either scenario?
Aim to answer some of these questions using statistics, if possible. Funders have so little time to read the ins and outs of every application they receive that graphs and other visuals can help to ensure they pay attention to yours.
Obtain a copy of your local indices; these are government statistics collated in every district across the UK. They provide such information as which areas are classed as ‘disadvantaged’, the average life expectancy of locals and challenges the area faces with the services available—and more. These facts and figures can be very persuasive, and as they’re official statistics, they carry more clout; funders appreciate that they’ve not simply been plucked from the air. They can add weight to your conclusions and underpin your application.
How will you deliver your help?
Grabbing the attention of the funder is one thing, now you need to prove that you have a plan for the delivery of your support.
This should show how many hours a week/month/year the project needs in manpower, all the costs involved, and how you intend to raise the remainder if the funder in question can’t/won’t meet the full cost of the project.
Will you need to purchase equipment? Do you need to employ someone to deliver the support you plan to provide? Will you have ongoing running costs, such as room hire/utilities to pay?
If the demand for your help is larger than the number you can afford to support, how will you choose who will benefit? In which locality will you focus?
These are typical questions funding bodies would expect you to answer.
This is a huge area of interest for any funder—the ‘before’ and the ‘after’. Though you may have an idea what the end result will look like, i.e. the outcome achieved after you deliver your support, you need to show in your application how you will measure your project’s success. This may sound easy, but sometimes, outcomes can be perceived or intangible and difficult to prove. If this is the case, you may need to adjust your measures and rethink aspects of your project, so that you can find a way to demonstrate the effect of your help. Grant money is so sought after that this could easily prove a deal-breaker. Funders do understand that some outcomes may not be quite as clear as others; however, it’s a huge plus if you can explain why this is, and it doesn’t just look as if you’ve submitted an unfocused, nice-project-to-deliver-but-no-real-need application.
Ways to collect such information could include first-hand accounts and testimonials, imagery where appropriate, and examples of progress, e.g. how many of your group were able to secure employment after your intervention, etc.
Lastly, these outcomes need to marry up with the objectives of the fund you’re applying to. A good portion of funds stick to a handful of themes and outcomes, and it’s no good approaching them for money if your project doesn’t fit this framework. Funders have their own goals and aims, and they’ll be much more likely to grant money to charities that align with these.
As above, make your outcomes concise, with visual representation if possible. This will win more Brownie points with finders than a long spiel about how wonderful your beneficiaries’ lives would be with their money.