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Tips and Tricks to Make Your Funding Application Stand Out

Securing funding is an essential part of launching and growing a successful social business, but doing so can be time consuming and can distract you from having the impact you have set out to create. So, if you are going to invest the time in securing funding you want to ensure your time is well spent and that your application has the best chance of success.

I have worked across corporate, government, and non-profit sectors for the last 20 years. Throughout my career I have reviewed thousands of funding applications and been a part of many Selection Panels making decisions about where to allocate funding. I currently manage ING’s Dreamstarter initiative that supports social enterprises in Australia to launch, grow and scale with scholarships, crowdfunding support and grants for growth. Applications for Dreamstarter Crowdfunding support are open now.

Here are my top three tips for how to ensure your funding application stands out from the crowd.

Explain How Your Proposal Meets the Selection Criteria

Far too often I read funding applications where I have to really work hard to understand how (or even ‘if’) the proposal meets the selection criteria.

My recommendation: Selection Criteria is there for a reason – it will give you insight into how likely your proposal is to secure the funding. Before you apply for funding consider honestly: Does your proposal meet that criteria? If it does, you need to be explicit in your application and explain clearly HOW you meet the criteria. If however the answer is no, you are better to focus your time and energy on applying for funding that you have a stronger alignment with. You will not only have greater likelihood of success but the resulting partnership is more likely to be of benefit to your organisation in the long term.

Put Yourself in the Funder’s Shoes

When you are passionate about your cause and your business it can be hard to step out of your bubble and see things from a different perspective. Most funding these days takes the form of some kind of partnership and a partnership is most successful when it is mutually beneficial.

My recommendation: Consider why the funder may have established this funding program. What do they want to achieve from this funding? What do they want this program to say about them? How could your organisation help them with that? Once you have an idea of why they may have established this funding program, consider how your proposal will help that organisation achieve that objective and find a way to articulate that in your application.

Be Clear & Concise

The person or panel reading your funding application will likely be reading hundreds. They want to quickly and easily understand if the application meets the criteria, what you do, what the funding will allow you to achieve, the impact that will make and why your organisation is the best choice to create that impact. You will stand out from the crowd if your application makes it easy for the reviewer to understand without having to read through reams of information.

My recommendation: Always have a top line (1 or 2 sentence) response that succinctly answers the question. You don’t want to the person reviewing your application to have to read between the lines or search for your answer among paragraphs of detail. Once you have succinctly answered the question, then you can go into a little more detail to further illustrate or provide supporting evidence but always keep this brief. Don’t use jargon or specialised references or assume the impact is commonly understood.

Applications for Dreamstarter Crowdfunding are open until 3 April – Apply today!

20170616_0749390370Shannon Carruth has worked in various roles in community, government and corporate sectors over the last twenty years. Working in organisations such as the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, the NSW Community Relations Commission, the Starlight Children’s Foundation, MBF and ING, Shannon has experienced funding applications from a number of perspectives. Shannon currently manages ING’s Sustainability & Community Impact including leading ING’s award-winning Dreamstarter program.

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