Freelancers for charities

Tips from a specialist bid writer

Posted by Chris on 10/07/2022

How a Specialist Bid Writer Can Help With Your Grant Application

Covid-19 has presented charities and voluntary organisations with a huge challenge. They have faced a perfect storm as traditional sources of income have dried up while demand for their services has soared. Smaller charities are particularly exposed to the crisis, especially those working to tackle poor health, poverty and domestic violence.

Sadly, some charities will probably go under. But it is encouraging to see many charities demonstrating great resilience as they adapt to the problems generated by the pandemic, reconfiguring the way they work, collaborating with others and moving service delivery online.

Unsurprisingly, many charities have turned to grant makers and charitable foundations to replace lost income. The National Lottery Community Fund, London Community Response Fund and Social Enterprise Support Fund, to name but a few, have successfully disbursed significant funds to Covid-19 related projects over the spring and summer.

Many of these schemes are now closed. But others remain open, either for emergency funding or to help charities navigate an uncertain future, develop long term resilience and plan for a post-coronavirus world.

Survival tactics

But there’s the rub.  Most small charities are too busy trying to survive, working hard to meet their beneficiaries’ needs, to spend the time required to write successful grant applications.

You may be too close to the day-to-day operation of the charity to be able to stand back and write a compelling bid that is going to catch a grant maker’s eye. Or might know what you want to say but don’t know how best to say it.

Grant makers also face a significant challenge. This issue doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. But grant schemes are usually over-subscribed. And some reject as many as 80% of applicants.

Grant officers typically have to wade through hundreds of bids, which may fail to capture the spirit of a particular project or are simply badly written. This can result in promising projects being overlooked. Assessors are also professionals, conscious that a well-written bid may disguise a poorly conceived project. This explains the focus on due diligence in many fund application processes and the detailed questions usually asked about the context, objectives and design of the grant-funded project.  

This is where charities might want to consider seeking the services of a specialist bid writer to work with them on the preparation of an application. They can provide the fresh eye, independent perspective and detailed research that can make the difference between getting that grant and not getting it.

Funding with purpose

So what are grant makers looking for? It might seem an obvious question but is crucial to the whole process. All grant schemes vary in their funding objectives. But they are usually looking for projects that meet a set of generic principles:

·         Making a transformational impact on the community it is designed to serve.

·         Meeting a need in the community that would otherwise remain unfilled.

·         Designed in collaboration with the people it is intended to benefit.

·         Providing a path to a sustainable future.

·         Offering deliverability and value for money.

In the context of the coronavirus, funders have also been asking specific questions about how you might have been addressing social need before the pandemic, how demand for your services may have changed, who will benefit from your project, and how it will mitigate the impact of Covid-19.

Ten tips to make your application stand out

There is no predetermined model for writing a successful grant application. But if you follow some good practice principles, and do your research, you will significantly increase the likelihood of success.

Here are the ten points you should consider.

1.      Make sure you meet the scheme’s eligibility criteria (organisation type, legal status, geographical location etc) before even putting pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard.

2.      Ensure you understand the scheme’s funding aims and objectives. Identifying the right scheme is the first real challenge. But there is no point wasting your time (or theirs) applying for the wrong one.

3.      Complete the application form correctly. These range from relatively straightforward to fairly complex templates. It is essential that you answer all relevant questions, stick to the word limits (often quite tight), focus on your core narrative and supply all supporting documents.   

4.      Create a compelling narrative of what you do and the difference you make. You know that you have a good story to tell about the important role you play in your community and are well-placed to deliver a successful project. But you need to be able to convey this to grant assessors who may have limited knowledge of the topic and no recognition of your organisation.

5.      Ensure the application is easy to read. Be succinct. Avoid jargon. Use clear, active language. And avoid the temptation to cram too much detail in.

6.      Set out your understanding of what are often complex issues. Where possible, provide supporting evidence of need. Show how you will tackle the problem. Define the projected outcomes. Describe your track record.

7.      Use your beneficiaries to provide compelling, first-hand evidence of the positive impact you have on people.

8.      Provide a practical delivery plan. And outline the monitoring and evaluation process you will deploy to measure success.

9.      Get your numbers right. Demonstrate convincingly that you have assessed your cash requirements accurately. Be realistic in your request for grant funding, ensuring that you are not seeking a disproportionate amount of money relative to the organisational capacity of your charity.

10.  Check that your website and social media platforms are up to date as grant assessors will usually look at these to broaden their understanding of an organisation.

Above all, you need to demonstrate that you can be trusted to deliver a project which will resolve a societal problem, make a positive difference in the community and meet the grant makers’ goals. 

Looking ahead

The emerging legacy of Covid-19, and our uncertain economic future, suggests both significant damage to Britain’s social fabric as well as far-reaching changes to the fundraising landscape. Grant makers will have to make difficult choices.

But you can maximise your chances of securing that crucial grant by hiring a professional bid writer.

They can help you sift through the different grant schemes on offer and identify the scheme (or schemes) which is best for you. They can help you navigate the application process. They can get under the skin of a grant scheme’s goals, distil your thoughts into an engaging narrative and produce a bid that ticks all the right boxes.