Ask grantseekers and they’ll tell you the funding application process can often be: burdensome, difficult, time-consuming, arduous, frustrating, convoluted and exhausting. Not a great situation for social ventures whose time is precious and resources limited.
So what advice can we give to organisations to help them navigate the veritable smorgasbord of grant application processes and make the activity less stressful and resource-intensive?
1. Stay Focused
Have holding statements that articulate your organisation’s mission, vision, charter, intent in short or long form, depending on the individual funder’s requirements (word/character limit etc…). If required to be succinct, always highlight your ‘raison d/etre’ or reason for being. This is what sets you apart from everyone else – your unique identifier, if you like – so it’s the most powerful message for you to get across.
2. Make Your Value Proposition Permeate the Application
At every opportunity make sure you crystallise your value proposition. What added value are you bringing to the table through this program/project? How will your beneficiaries truly benefit from this initiative? How will this enhance the work they (grantmaker) are already doing in community? The value proposition works both ways…
3. Create a Realistic and Clear Budget
Ironically, the financial ask is often the part many grantseekers fail to execute well. Budgets which are: inaccurate; incomplete; over or under-estimating the costs involved; or literally guesswork are the downfall of more applications than you could imagine. This is such a simple yet critical part of the process so take the time to get it right. Check with the funder if they will cover the costs of program evaluation. If you are asking for multi-year funding be clear on whether the costs will be increasing over the years or decreasing as the program progresses. And make sure you have taken into account any travel and related expenses that may need to be incurred by your project team in the course of the service delivery.
3. Use Plain English
Sometimes you are too close to a topic or issue and can ‘miss the mark’ when it comes to a clear explanation of what you are trying to achieve so ask someone who knows nothing about your program to read through the application before you send it on. This way you can identify if your proposal is easily understood or if you are actually missing out critical explanatory details.
5. Apply Before the Absolute Deadline
If you want to avoid added stress then try to submit your application before the 11th hour. It shows you are organised and gives the grantmaker added confidence that this is a thoughtful, well-considered proposal.