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A practical guide to assist you in making effective applications and proposals for opportunities and funding. Includes useful tips on: initial research, what to include and final checklists.
Although completing an application is time consuming and the success rate is low, succeeding opens up exciting opportunities. Even so, it’s important to think about whether making an application is worth your time and effort.
First decide what you want to do and how to take your proposal forward. Then identify a funder or partner that fits your objectives. You also need to consider whether you’re looking for support or offering skills to:
You might be able to apply for support for all stages of a project in one proposal. Or you may need to develop separate proposals for different stages and submit them to a range of potential supporters. It’s also helpful to show how they’ll impact your work and be a part of a wider plan.
Remember to reflect how the opportunity, award or proposal will:
There’s no other way to find the best supporter for your proposal than through research. And you’ll need to do a lot to get it right.
This is also true when you’re trying to match your work to calls for applications. If your proposal doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria or suit an organisation’s remit, it will be rejected.
Make sure you’re the right fit by finding out what kind of audience the funder or clients the partner works with and in what context. Does your work relate to that context?
Everyone likes to have their work acknowledged – including your potential funder. If you’re aware of their work, they’ll be more inclined to show an interest in yours and possibly collaborate in the future.
Every funder has their own objectives and constraints. So your proposal shouldn’t just be about your needs. It also should reflect what they’re looking for.
Convincing people that a brilliant idea deserves to be a reality takes proof. If you’re responding to a call for applications, you may need to provide the proof within a specific template and guidelines.
If you have little or no guidance to go on, here’s a few things to do for your application or tender:
No one wants to read a long, confusing document. So be creative and present your proposal in a clear and engaging way. After all, your application is your mini-advertisement. So show your very best, including flawless spelling and grammar.
Make it easy and enjoyable for your potential funder to review your application. Organise your evidence and examples under headings like:
Our funders, applicants and staff have great insight when it comes to developing a winning proposal. Top tips you might find helpful include:
Check and check again – even if your proposal is a good one, it will be rejected if it fails the eligibility criteria, is not relevant to the aims of the fund, is incomplete or arrives after the deadline. So check to ensure: