We know that there are many ways to raise funding but grant applications to trusts, foundations or local authorities are one of the most effective ways in bringing in large amounts of money. However, due to both the increased demand for these funds and the fact that many local organisations do not have a member of staff dedicated to this job, in this blog we want to highlight the six key parts of all funding applications. Every application will be formatted differently so the questions may not be asked in this specific order or in this way but unless you provide the funder with answers to these questions, it is highly unlikely that you will be successful with the application. So, what are the six key parts of a funding application.

1) Define the problem you want to solve and its causes

You might have an amazing project and it is important to tell any funder about your project but before you do so, set the scene and explain to them what the problem you are solving and what is causing that problem. This way, your project is put into context and the funder can see where your project fits into the wider picture. For example, you may want to run a pop up waste food shop, taking food from supermarkets that they would normally throw away and give it back to the public. This is a brilliant project but what is the problem and whats causing it. In this example, we know the problem we want to solve is that supermarkets are throwing away a vast amount of food each year which is perfectly edible. We know that this happens because multipack items get damaged, items pass their best before date but are still safe to consume or that consumers' desires mean that wonky vegetables are not desirable. 

2) Define the need for your project and evidence

Linking to part 1, funders will want to see evidence for the need for your project and a few ways you can show a funder that your project is needed include:

- Outcomes from your pilot project

- Case studies

- Data and trends

- Results from other projects

In a future blog, we will be discussing this issue in greater detail so keep an eye out on social media for this point to be raised in more detail. 

3) Clarify your Outcomes

Outcomes are what we want our project to achieve. Without clear outcomes, a funder will find it hard to fund your project. For example, an outcome for an employability course could be to help a certain amount of people into employment or for a fitness group, to reduce the BMI of individuals by 10% in six months. These are just examples and each project you run will have different outcomes. Just remember, you want to keep these SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time Bound) so that these are feasible for your organisation to complete.

4) Plan your Project 

Planning your project refers to your outputs, ie what your organisation will be doing with the money to achieve your desired outcomes. In this section, you will want to explain how the funding will be spent, what still will be involved, including volunteers as well as any equipment that will be needed. Think of this as a list of everything you need to do to run your project. You will also want to include details of how your project will be measured, budgeted (see below) and how you are reviewing the progress of the project against your outcomes. 

5) Measuring Impact 

Similar to point 2, unless you can show how your project will be producing the desired outcomes, funders are unlikely to want to fund it. How you do this forms part of your project plan and what you need to do may depend on the particular funder and their preferences. For example, your funder may ask for a one page written report alongside a specific case study so you will need to ensure that you put processes in place to ensure that you can complete these requests. Additionally, you may be completing interviewers or surveys with attendees at the start of and at the end of your project so you can track any progress made and the impact that your project has had on them. 

6) Budget

A good application can be let down by a bad budget. The level of detail required will depend on the funder, whether you are submitting an expression of interest for the fund or a full application and the scale/complexity of your project. However, there are a few key things to remember:

- Make sure it links to your project, a volunteer led project may well have lower salary overheads whilst an online project will have higher digital/IT costs. 

- Make sure the numbers add up

- Take out anything the funder won't pay for (eg staff costs, equipment over a certain value)

- If you are not asking for 100% of the project costs, explain how you plan to raise the remaining funding required (eg match funding, providing the funding yourselves)


We hope you find this breakdown useful when it comes to writing grant applications but if you are still struggling, do not hesitate to get in touch via email or call 07908 209908 and we can discuss this further with you. 



Alex Murray


Lead for W3RT CVS, work for Watford and Three Rivers Trust. Helping to strengthen and support the local voluntary sector in #Watford.