5 steps for funding success

  • Applying for funding involves much more than simply filling in a form and waiting for a response
  • Charities have to prove their organisation is appropriately structured and governed, and that funds would be spent wisely
  • We offer five tips to help non-profits when applying for funding

Applying for funding can be a stressful and time-consuming process.

However, by following a few simple steps, charities can put themselves in the best possible position to secure funds and achieve their objectives.

1. Check your structure is legal

When applying to funders, you should think about the impact of the potential funding on your organisation. With just a couple of grants, small not-for-profits can grow quickly, and as a result, may need to review their structure. For example, unincorporated organisations with an annual income above £5,000 are required to register with the Charity Commission.

Also, funding streams usually have rules about the types of organisations that can apply. For example, they may limit applications to charitable trusts or exclude community interest companies. It helps to be clear about the legal structure of your organisation.

2. Practise ‘Good Governance’

Good governance is essential to attract funders. Here are some questions you should be asking about your organisation:

  • Do committee members understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • Do committee members have relevant skills and experience?
  • Is our organisation doing what it was set up to do?
  • Do we have a written plan or strategy?
  • Do we hold regular structured meetings?
  • What governance/regulation do we need to be aware of?

Here is a simple guide to six key principles of good governance.

3. Deliver safe activities

Funders will need to know how you keep people safe. They will require copies of your safeguarding polices. Safe Network provides guidance on safeguarding best practice including free policy templates.

It may be appropriate to include some of the costs of safeguarding in your application, such as:

  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) costs
  • First aid kits and training
  • Child protection training
  • Vulnerable adults training
  • Health and safety signs and equipment
  • Insurance

4. Practise good money management

Before applying for funding you should have basic money management systems in place. Funders usually request:

  • Your organisation’s bank details
  • Details of cheque signatories
  • Proof of income and expenditure
  • Budget and accounts

This Resource Centre guide to not-for-profit bank accounts is useful if you need to open a new account or move your existing one for a better deal. These guides: Financial Rules, Your Group’s Money and Role of the Treasurer, will also help prepare you to receive and manage grants appropriately.

5. Record your results

When you receive a grant, some funders will require you to provide feedback on your project’s progress and how much of their grant has been spent.

This feedback is called “funder monitoring”. You may be asked to provide statistics, evidence and quotes to demonstrate the impact you are making.

You should check what level of funder monitoring is required before applying for a grant. Consider whether you will realistically be able to meet these requirements. If the answer is no, don’t apply for the grant. If measuring and monitoring results is a challenge, only apply to funders with simple feedback or no monitoring.

You can then choose how to record your results. The Charities Information Bureau’s Monitoring and Evaluation guide provides ideas.