Four essential elements of a successful grant application
As an ongoing funding source, grant income can be one of the most difficult to predict.
With successful applications depending on the pool of funds available, the trust or foundation's primary purpose for that particular round, and the personal goals of those responsible for allocating funds, it's rarely ever a certainty that any grant application will be successful.
With grant applications taking a substantial amount of time to complete and with the income available usually significant to the charity, you must give yourself as much chance as possible to complete a favourable application for your project.
To maximise the chance of funding success, here are four essential elements that every grant application should include.
- Explain the benefit to the community
A grant application may fail to attract the attention of the funder if it focuses solely on the project features rather than the benefits.
Of course, explaining what the project is and does is important, but what the funder really wants to know is how it helps them achieve their broader mission.
Include case studies and figures based on the charity's previous work and explain how the funding will help improve upon this to benefit the community. Cross refer this data with the funder's goals which are included in the application guidelines to make sure you're meeting criteria that will help achieve their vision.
- Accurate financials
A trustee or foundation will want to see down to the last cent that you're financially secure and savvy enough to deliver the project and to sustain it into the future. With so many worthy charities vying for the same dollar, there's no room for a funder make an unwise choice or where to allocate funds. In most applications, audited financials will be specifically requested to leave no room for guesswork or estimations.
- Acknowledgement of previous communication
A grant funder is no different from a major donor and building solid relationships is essential. If you have space for a cover letter or email, make the most of the extra room and acknowledge any previous support or communications.
Refer to the communication history in the CRM to include relevant information regarding previous funding applications whether successful or not. As in all donor communication, also thank them for previous support and provide as much information as you can about how this has benefited the community.
- Capacity to deliver the project
It doesn't matter how compelling your case for support, potential funders will want to see solid proof the project can be delivered effectively, on time and within budget. Include previous examples of similar projects, evidence you have access to the personnel required and a detailed description of how you plan to make sure every dollar is spent wisely.
As funders typically make a decision based on individual applications rather than the wider mission of the charity, grant funding may be harder to obtain than individual or company donations. Matching projects to funding opportunities and creating compelling applications addressing key criteria will ultimately lead to funding success.
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