An open notebook lies open on a desk next to a white mug and an open laptop.Putting together an application for funding can seem a daunting and overwhelming experience. However, it needn’t be. Allowing sufficient time to prepare and carefully think through your proposal before putting pen to paper can really help you to build a powerful and effective pitch for grants and funding opportunities.

I recently attended training delivered by the National Council for Volunteer Organisations, which included some excellent advice for improving your funding strategy and planning for the future.

Check out these top tips for getting your funding applications right.

1. Get prepared

Before you think about applying for funding, work on an internal ‘case for support’. This is your organisation’s ‘sales pitch’, the answer to the question “why should I support your cause?”. This will provide a template foundation for any future application development, and ensure you don’t have to go back to basics each time.

2. Do your research

When thinking about which grants to apply for, consider carefully whether it is the right fit for your organisation. Where do you want to go and will this help you get there? Be aware of developing activities to fit a funder that may distract or take you down a different path. You can check what a funder has previously supported to get a feel for what they may go for in future.

3. Be honest

Before applying for funding, be honest about what you can do and why you’re going for it. Delivering a successful funding bid requires commitment and resource. Do you have the capacity?

4. Think percentages

Funders can be asked to fund a percentage of a project, and this can be an attractive option in terms of risk management. However, always be honest about the total cost of the project.

5. Get your communication right

When writing a bid, spend time on getting your communication right. Be careful to answer the question you are being asked on the form. Create a clear structure. Be clear, concise and explicit and avoid assumptions of knowledge or generalisations. Most importantly of all, if there is guidance, read it in advance and always cross-check it at the end.

6. Learn from your mistakes

Remember – each funding application is a learning experience. If your proposal is not successful first time, take the time to learn from the process. Get feedback from the funder if you can, and make notes on what went well and what you can improve so that you can be a step ahead for your next proposal.

South West Museum Development are here to help and support you. Get in touch with your Museum Development Officer if you’re interested in considering applying for funding to help ensure you are supported to make the right decisions for your organisation.