So you have got a great idea for your business or community and want to find some funding to make it happen. How do you get started? Here are the initial steps that successful applicants need to follow.
Firstly, write out your idea in your own words, before looking at any funding opportunities. Try asking yourself Why? What? Where? When? and How much? This should be quite brief (no more than one side of A4), and very clear. If you are struggling to explain your idea now, it will be very difficult to communicate it effectively to potential funders. It is critical that you never lose sight of why you are doing it – it will help you to stay motivated and avoid wasting time. You also need to estimate approximately how much it will cost so you know how much funding to look for.
Secondly, look at the funding streams that are available. There are dedicated funding websites for this purpose, or try web searches using the terms “funding, “grants” or “loans” along with some words to describe your location or the type of idea. Prepare a shortlist which includes details of the amount of funding you can apply for and any deadlines for applications. Your list should provide funding options that exceed that amount of money you need. That way, if one application is unsuccessful you have a fallback position.
Thirdly, review the funders’ requirements carefully. Make sure you meet their criteria – the closer your idea matches onto their objectives, the more likely your application is to succeed. Then prioritise your list according to how well it matches onto what you plan to do and make applications in that order.
Finally, when writing your applications always follow these golden rules:
1. If there is the opportunity to speak to a funding advisor first, then do so. Most advisors are friendly, knowledgeable and helpful so listen to their advice.
2. Read all the rules about the fund. If you spot anything that concerns you or presents a problem, talk to your advisor. It is better to find out any issues in advance rather than wasting time on an application that is not suited to your idea.
3. Answer all the questions on the application carefully, referring to any guidance notes and examples. Most funding applications are scored based on your responses and so you need to make sure you provide the details the funders need.
By following these basic rules, you are setting off in the right direction to get the funding you need. The next few articles in this series will go through the main parts of an application, and how to make yours stand out from the crowd to maximise your chances of success.
If you need help to draw up your prioritised list of funding options, our team can help you. We have extensive knowledge of what is available so can prepare an accurate list matched onto your requirements promptly. As a not for profit organisation, we are able to offer this service for only £100 (incl VAT) during 2015, potentially saving you hours of work. For more info contact Sophie Price 01837 658643