At W3RT CVS, we manage funds for organisations to apply to and since 2020, we have awarded in excess of £1 million to local voluntary organisations. As a result, we know what we want to look for in applications and whilst the application process is highly competitive, completing a few simple steps will make sure your applications have the best possible chance of succeeding. We also see that when applications fail to be funded, there are some common reasons why they do so. As a result, we have put together a top 10 list of reasons why funding bids are unsuccessful. The first five reasons are listed below and next week, we will share the other five reasons. 

1. Your type of organisation is ineligible

Simply put, if your organisation is not eligible, your application will fail at the first hurdle, regardless of the strength of the application, how it meets the funder's other criteria, or how it going to save them money in the long run. The good news is that funders state the eligibility criteria for the funds on their website or in the guidance notes. If you aren't sure, call them and ask. The worst they can say is that you are not eligible which is a shame but a 10 minute phone call better use of your time when compared to 2-3 days of writing an application that is rejected before the funder even read it. 

If you are finding that your organisation is not eligible for potential funds, have a chat with the W3RT CVS team and we can discuss how converting your legal structure to allow you to apply for those funds in the future. 

2. Your application doesn’t meet the criteria​

Your organisation might be eligible that is just the starting point. The next step is to review the rest of the eligibility criteria and assess whether you meet all the funder's requirements. For example, you might have a project working in one borough or district but the funder's eligibility criteria will only fund applications don't include these areas. Again, regardless of how your project would be helping residents yards away from the funder's priority area, your application will be rejected as it does meet the criteria. 

Another situation is that you do not meet the minimum or maximum income level for that funder. Sometimes they want to fund large organisations and your income falls below their threshold or your turnover will mean that your income is too larger for that funder. Our advice, read the eligibility criteria and/guidance notes, funders publish them for a reason, and then read them again to make sure you meet their criteria. 

3. Your application doesn’t meet the outcomes of the funder​

Great news, your organisation is eligible based on all the essentials discussed above. However, unless you can show you can meet the outcomes of the funder with your project, the funder will be able to fund your application. For example, you may have a project but you cannot meet all the desired outcomes that the funder would like you to meet if you are awarded the available funding. In this instance, speak to them, they may tell you that they will need you to meet their outcomes to receive the funding. If that's the case, keep the funder in mind for future applications when your organisation has the capacity to meet all the criteria. Again, a 10 minute phone call with the funder can save you hours meaning you can use that time to apply for applications where you do meet the outcomes. 

4. Application incomplete​

A bit more straightforward this one, unless you answer all the questions, your application could well be rejected by the funder. This is especially true for larger, national funders who received hundreds/thousands of applications each time they have funding and have now started using software to filter out applications that are incomplete. Just like before, no matter the overall strength of your application, if you dont answer all the questions, you wont be successful. 

Smaller/local funders may well send the application back to you so you can complete the missing sections. Just make sure you leave yourself enough time to do so!

5. Application received after the deadline​

Speaking of deadlines, if you miss the application deadline, your application will be rejected automatically. As a result, make sure you plan ahead and know which applications are due when so you can plan to work on certain applications at certain times. As a wise man once said, 'fail to prepare, prepare to fail'.

Top tip: Aim to complete the application one week before the deadline. This will give you time to check it, have someone else review the bid for you, and get all the supporting documents you need together so you can submit the application with plenty of time to spare after any changes need to be made. Funders know when bids have been submitted minutes before the deadline. 

If those tips have been useful for you, let us know by emailing us on [email protected], giving us a call on 07908 209908, or let us know the next time we catch up with you. Keep an eye out on social media and on our website for Part Two with five more reasons why your funding bids are rejected. 

Alex Murray


Lead for W3RT CVS in Watford. Helping to strengthen and support the local voluntary sector.