It’s not surprising that there has been an increase in companies wondering how they can bid for funding. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in organisations reassessing how they do business.
Businesses can’t network like they used to. With social distancing and working from home, there are no business lunches or face-to-face meetings. This has forced businesses to look into other options on how they can grow. Because of this, tender applications and bids for funding and grants are on the rise. They’re becoming increasingly competitive and you want your bid for funding to stand out from the crowd.
There are generally two types of funding bids. One, is a bid to a public sector commissioner such as a local authority, to deliver a service. The other is an application for funding to companies or foundations. They require you to explain why you need the money, and what impacts it will have.
Here’s our guide on how to bid for funding efficiently.
Ask yourself – are you eligible?
Ensure that the funder’s aims, objectives and eligibility criteria fit with your bid. Carefully read the guidelines on how to apply and establish what additional documents and information you may need.
You need to ask yourself if the funder’s aims and objectives align with your application. If not, then maybe they aren’t the most suitable funder for you. Are you asking for an appropriate amount of funding? What size grants do they offer?
The use of a SWOT analysis would come in handy here. It’s a great way to analyse if this is the right opportunity for you. You should assess the:
Plan efficiently and well in advance
Completing your bid for funding may take a couple of weeks or even months. You’ll want to plan well in advance, particularly as some grant programmes are only open once a year.
It’s important to be realistic when planning. Set yourself realistic time constraints and internal deadlines. Give plenty of time for any unexpected issues to pop-up along the way. If you need anything from your colleagues, remember to give them enough time too. If you set unrealistic or unachievable deadlines, it will just put a strain on things. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared!
Make a checklist of the requirements of the application. For example:
- Submission deadline date and time.
- The number of pages or words.
- Support material needed.
- The number of copies required.
- If they want it submitted online or as a hard copy.
When planning your bid for funding, try using bullet points. They’ll help identify where more detail is needed and identify where there are gaps in information.
Look at things from the funder’s perspective
Put yourself in their shoes – what would you want to know?
Address their aims directly. If the programme aims to strengthen and connect communities then you need to emphasise this in your opening.
Funders will have an overall vision they’re trying to achieve and a key set of guiding principles. Your bid response needs to explain how you’ll achieve this. The awarding body wants to feel like the bidder has truly understood their agenda. They want to feel that a bidder is bidding for funds that link to their own objectives.
Make life a little easier for the funder, by clearly formatting your response. Use heading and subheadings that are in the guidance notes and review criteria. This will also help ensure that you have answered every point within the review criteria.
Be clear and concise
Try not to use technical jargon and aim to be as clear and concise as possible. Remember that the funder has a lot of responses to get through. If you make your bid clear and concise, they’ll thank you for it.
Try and stay away from using four words when one will suffice. For example, instead of writing ‘for the purpose of’ simply use ‘for’. Another example is instead of saying ‘in order to’, ‘to’ will be enough.
A commissioner wants to see a well-articulated response that is comprehensively thought through. Before you submit, you should double-check for any errors. It’s best to also get someone else to do a proofread of your proposal. A fresh set of eyes can help see if it’s coherent and flows well. Reading aloud is another great way to ensure it makes sense.
Include facts and stats
It’s always worth adding credible statistics to emphasise your point. Siting a valid source and back up your point with facts. This cannot be stressed enough!
Do your homework and produce evidence that backs up your point. A good way to create a strong response for your bid for funding is by using P.E.E.:
This helps create a strong point that’s then backed up with evidence. The evidence could include stats and facts to drive your point home.
Don’t assume anything
Don’t assume the commissioner knows anything about your organisation or what it does. Explain everything clearly. Leaving room for assumptions can allow for the wrong assumptions to be made. You should also clearly state how you will monitor, measure and report your progress. Don’t assume they will know how you’ll report back
Grant-makers want to see how your solution and their money will have a lasting impact. They don’t want to keep pumping money into short-term solutions. They are looking to give it to an organisation that is finding a solution to the source of the problem. In your bid response, you want to show how the grant will be sustainable and long-lasting.
No matter the sector, you must include the social, economic and environmentally beneficial factors of your bid. Social value is of high priority in any form of grant or procurement process – particularly in the public sector. You must include the positive outcomes and how these will continue after the funding has come to an end. If you do this, your chances of a successful bid for funding will increase.
A winning bid will have innovative solutions. Commissioners love to see innovation and that’s true for any sector and any type of tendering. Ground-breaking and exclusive solutions that lead the way are what funders are looking for. Think outside the box and ask yourself if your organisation has a truly unique solution to an issue.
Realistically evaluate the running costs
When writing your bid for funding, funders want to see that you know how to handle money. You will need to have a sound methodology for money management and use. You may want to include past projects where you have managed the cash-flow, demonstrating your capabilities. This will reassure them that their money is going into safe hands. You should present:
- A business plan for the implementation of the project.
- A cash flow analysis for the use of money.
- A fully costed project.
- The financial controls and safeguards you have in place.
- The degree of financial skills and knowledge within your organisation.
- Previous annual report.
- Your organisation’s annual income and expenditure.
Always ask for feedback if unsuccessful
Feedback can be a great tool to help you improve so don’t be disheartened if you didn’t succeed this time. Asking for feedback can help highlight your shortcomings or mistakes that you can learn from and avoid in future. It can help you increase your chances of your funding application being awarded next time around.
When writing your bid for funding, you need to show how you have identified:
- The need for your service.
- How your solution meets the need.
- How you will engage with the intended audience.
- The measurable outcomes that you’re aiming to achieve.
- The benefits.
- How it will have a lasting impact.
- The running costs.
You must state how you’re going to achieve these outcomes. If you set measurable outcomes that you can actually achieve, you’ll be more likely to succeed and win funding.
Example layout of a bid for funding
An example of a typical layout for a bid for funding may look like this:
- Project summary
- Public description
- Describe how your project fits the scope
The following are some examples of the type of application questions you may need to answer, depending on your bid.
What is the problem you want to solve?
Who is it a problem for?
What is innovative about the approach or technology?
Who is the project team?
Are you capable to deliver the solution?
Do you need additional support?
What will you do with the funding?
How will you manage the project and risks effectively?
Need help with writing your bid for funding? We can help.