Understanding the jargon funders use

  • Understanding funders’ jargon will help you to make more effective applications
  • Talking the same language will help you better understand what is expected and make your application look more professional
  • We look at the terms used during the six stages of funding

Don’t be put off applying for funding because of the language and terms used by the funders. Fundraising expert Gemma Kingsman explains the jargon used by funders at each stage of the process, from making applications to impact reporting.

Stage 1: Find out what funders support

When researching what a funder supports, the first step is to read the funder’s Guidelines. These are often also referred to as the Funding Criteria. They detail the funder’s rules on:

  • What areas of interest it funds
  • What type of organisation can apply
  • How they can be applied for
  • The application process
  • Any exclusions

Most funders’ exclusions will state they do not provide Retrospective Funding. This means that funders will only fund a project that hasn’t happened yet. Prepaid items or projects which have already happened will not be funded.

You can find funder guidelines:

Stage 2: Select the type of grant you need

Funder’s guidelines generally include details of what type of grants it provides. These usually fall into two categories:

  • Revenue Costs (often called Core Costs) fund running costs such as salaries, rent and heating
  • Capital Costs fund specific items such as laptops, disability equipment or furniture. Capital costs can also cover building and refurbishment projects

Other types of grants include:

  • Pump-priming Grants  that fund start-up or infrastructure costs. They aim to help your organisation to develop, often covering both capital and revenue costs
  • Goods in Kind some organisations, particularly businesses, donate their professional skills or products rather than give financial support. This type of fundraising is called Resource Raising

Fundraising applications for financial grants often ask what other type of support you need to make your project happen. For example, you may be looking to take on staff for the first time and need advice on how to set up PAYE or need help with interview techniques.

Funders who ask this question usually have access to a bank of skilled professionals who volunteer their time. For example, The Bulldog Trust provides financial grants and has a philanthropy network to connect skilled professionals with grassroots organisations.

Lloyds TSB Foundation offers an Enhance Programme providing ‘in kind’ expertise support to its grant recipients.

It may be tempting to try to demonstrate that you are good at everything and don’t need help, but funders often want to add value where they can. Take a look at this blog post from a funder called ‘Please don’t please me’.

Some funders will only award a grant subject to Match Funding. This means you need to demonstrate how you will ‘match’ funds from this grant with funds from other sources in order to reach your target.

Some funders allow you to use ‘goods in kind’ and volunteer hours as your match funding. To help your calculations, it is useful to know that funders often value volunteer time at £11 per hour for match funding purposes.

For example, Cambo Heritage Trust in Fife, is raising funds for the restoration of its stable buildings. The Heritage Lottery Fund has pledged £1.2m, subject to £1.9m match funding being raised from other sources.

Stage 3: Apply for grants

When researching trust funders, you will often see the wording No Unsolicited Applications. This means that they do not welcome general applications, but either select them through their network of local contacts, or have a list of chosen charities which they always support.

Some funders request an Expression of Interest this means you write to inform them about your project and they will invite you to apply if they are interested. Some funders will send you an expression of interest form to complete, others require a simple letter.

Many trusts and foundations request a Trust Letter rather than completing an application, which will need to cover specific information.

Funders normally request Supporting Documents to be sent with your application. These usually consist of:

  • Your Governing Document this is your legal set of rules. To help you identify your governing document KnowHow NonProfit has a useful governing documents chart
  • A copy of your most recent accounts. Normally this is your latest end-of-year accounts signed by your treasurer or the chair
  • Copies of your Safeguarding Policies such as those covering vulnerable adults, child protection and general safeguarding

Stage 4: Consider who will benefit

The people who benefit from your project are called Beneficiaries and sometimes referred to as Service Users. Often a project will have Direct Beneficiaries and Indirect Beneficiaries.

For example the people attending a Stroke Club might be the direct beneficiaries. The carers of the attendees are the ‘indirect beneficiaries’ as this enables them to have respite.

Stage 5: Write about your project

All funding applications will need to know what the Outcomes of your project will be. An outcome is the difference the grant will make.

Most projects will create ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ outcomes. Hard Outcomes are quantifiable, for example showing how many people have moved into employment. Soft Outcomes can be more difficult to record, but are equally as important. These might include outcomes such as increased confidence or wellbeing of beneficiaries.

Stage 6: Write about the results

When awarding a grant, some funders will request you to measure, record and report on the impact their grant has had. This process is called Funder Monitoring.

When you have been awarded a larger grant, a normal requirement is for an Evaluation. This document details the success of the project and is usually measured against the outcomes the project set out to achieve.

For more information on monitoring and evaluation read Resource Centre’s guide Reporting to a funder.