Applying for Grants
Stage two of the grant cycle: Application
You’d be amazed at how many applications are rejected because they are ineligible or incomplete. To avoid wasting your time, make sure that you access the pre-application advice, information and support that most larger funders offer.
Some funders publish guidelines or other information for applicants and you’d be very foolish not to read these carefully. Funders spend a lot of time and resources on helping applicants and it can create a bad first impression if you haven’t read those properly.
Most information is available online although larger funders also often have telephone advice lines. Smaller trusts and foundations may have no capacity to deal with enquiries and simply ask for letters of application. Our Making a case for support guide outlines some of the information you might want to include in an application and can be a useful format if your funder doesn’t have their own form.
For major applications, it should be clear whether you are eligible and likely to be a priority. You can also often find out whether a scheme is likely to receive many more applications than it can support. Sometimes you might think it is still worth trying for a long-shot, but make sure you also consider other funding and finance options first [link]. It takes time to submit a good application and it is more effective to submit a smaller number of higher quality proposals than to produce a larger number of mediocre funding bids.
Assessment can take many forms and invariably takes longer than you would like. On average, this can be anything between two to six months although bigger grants can take even longer to assess.
Most grants are approved by a committee, although staff are usually involved in assessment in larger funders. Some funders will visit applicants to talk to you about the application face-to-face, some complete the process purely on paper. You may be requested to supply additional information. Other funders employ specialist external assessors, or ask for referees. Some funding schemes have a two-stage process [link] where an initial expression of interest is assessed before a full application is made – to avoid time being wasted on developing applications with little chance of success. Ensure that you are aware of how your application will be assessed so that you are prepared for a visit or to provide a referee if requested.
Everybody gets rejected at some stage and it can be very disappointing. You will dramatically avoid the chances of being rejected if you have done your research properly.
Rejection can also be an opportunity to get feedback from funders about how to improve your application in future. Not all funders can provide feedback. Many good applications are rejected simply because demand far outstrips supply. But asking why your application was rejected and how you could improve your chances next time can be helpful.
Want to know more or need more help?
Tools & Resources: Making a case for support (pdf)
Tools & Resources: Application checklist
Tools & Resources: 10 questions to ask yourself before applying
Know Your Facts: How long does it take to apply
Successful? Congratulations! Find out what you need to know about receiving grants.
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