If you are a charity who is currently seeking funding to continue, expand or develop your projects then there are many routes you can pursue for financial assistance. These include loans, investment, grants or even just useful advice to help your organisations development.
Seeking support can often seem like a daunting task; some applications for funding can be extremely complicated and time consuming. But with some simple preparation and organisation there may be valuable funds available to your charity.
This short guide has been put together to make the overwhelming task of applying for funding a little more manageable and achievable for your organisation.
The first step is to decide whether applying for funding is the right decision for your group. There may be more time effective ways – such as holding a fundraising event or soliciting donations from supporters – for you to raise money that might be less demanding on your time.
Ensure that you have sufficient time to dedicate to the application process and the delivery of your project. Additionally, you should evaluate whether you have the resources – both equipment and expertise - to deliver your project if you receive funds.
It is important to know that many schemes and charity support organisations receive hundreds of applications from a diverse array of groups, and it is possible you will be competing against groups much larger, with greater resources, than your own.
Before you start completing application forms there are a few things you can do to improve your chances of success. By planning thoroughly and ensuring that your organisation’s governance, accounts and future plans are up to date and well maintained you will be able to present a convincing case that should help you stand out from the crowd.
When deciding whether your organisation is ready to apply for funding you may want to consider the following:
All of this information and more is available at fit4funding.
You might also want to read the Charities Aid Foundation’s short ‘Jargon Busting’ guide at this stage.
When beginning any application, ensure you are able to answer some of these basic questions:
Each scheme will have its own very specific criteria, but having a good idea of how to answer these basic questions will stand you in good stead.
If you have checked the basics and are ready to find funding then there are multiple grants and schemes you can consider. Some support is targeted for very specific services and charities, whereas others are available to a relatively wide array of applicants. Some schemes offer small levels of investment, whereas others can provide large grants for individual projects.
It’s always best to check specific grants and schemes to see if your charity is eligible for support. Here are some groups that might be worth investigating:
Regional providers of funding information:
Some grants are available for regional groups.
After you have identified a funding scheme you will need to begin completing the application forms.
Each grant will have its own unique application process, but a few things to consider before you start are:
The most important factor in your application is including established evidence and analysis. For example, if you are aiming to provide a service for young LGB people in your area, you will need to demonstrate that local demographics make this a pressing concern. If you want to demonstrate a need for outreach services for elderly LGB people or a need to tackle homophobia in local sport, your case will have far greater credibility if relevant research is included.
Stonewall has compiled detailed research and polling data across a wide variety of issues. This information is publically available and can be used to add extra weight to your application. Be sure to cite any external research you include in your application forms correctly.
A list of our most recent publications and research can be found below:
Equal Opportunities Monitoring
Goods and Services
Once you have applied be sure to keep a record of all correspondence from your submissions – even those where you have been unsuccessful. This will be valuable in the future to improve your applications and should be filed for your own records.
Importantly, make sure to receive confirmation that your application has been received by the appropriate contact.
Once your application has been submitted be patient but persistent. Make sure you are aware when the grant scheme closes and establish when you can expect an indication of whether you have been successful in your bid.
If you are successful…
If your application has been successful it is worth checking with your new funder what reports will be needed over the coming months as you begin to use your extra resources. You will need to have a plan to demonstrate how you will measure outcomes and results and how you will communicate your successes. Additionally, you may want to make arrangements for your funding partner to visit your new project to see your work in action.
Be sure to keep accurate and up to date records of how the money is being spent throughout the project.
You may wish to seek outside advice on how to manage organisational development and increased numbers of staff or volunteers. This can be found at fit4funding.
It is crucial that you keep comprehensive records and accounts of how the money has been spent throughout the project.
It will also be worth considering how you plan to continue your work once your initial funding has been used. Consider whether your project is a one-off venture or a service you’d like to provide indefinitely.
If you are not successful…
If your application is unsuccessful you should investigate whether there is any feedback available from your initial application. This can indicate how you can improve in future applications.
Many funding schemes are intensely competitive and it is always worth applying to other schemes that may more specifically support your area of work or exploring alternative means of fundraising.