Funding your project - top tips

This guest article is by Corinna Hartwig and Julia Witting of Funding Doctors. Funding Doctors is a social enterprise which provides practical advice and support for other social enterprises, community groups and small charities looking for funding or help with business planning.


Before you launch into fundraising for your project - whether it is starting up your very own out of school club, adding an additional service or securing funding for new resources - make sure that you have done everything you can to ensure that you have the best possible chance of succeeding. Our Seven Top Funding Tips will show you how.

Tip 1: Speak the funders' language

Create your vision and be crystal clear what it is. If you are applying for grants, you need this to build your case for fundraising. You also need this information to build your own business plan if you are starting up a new club or service, so that you know there is a demand for the service and the venture or service is sustainable

You need this to build your case for fundraising. Do your research, involve your community. Get everyone on board defining what they want, why they want it, what problem it is solving and what the positive outcomes will be — this is what funders want to know.

In this competitive funding environment, you need to establish a strong case for your project. Funders will want to know that there is a proven need and that the outcomes of the project reflect their funding criteria, for example: improved access to services, improving the possibilities of carers returning to work, supporting the local economy by creating new services, providing a stimulating and safe environment for children, etc.

What are outcomes?
Outcomes are the changes or difference that your project can make over time.

TIP: Funders are not interested in the fact that you want to (for example) provide a new after school club. They want to know what the outcomes will be for the community.

Why is it important to define outcomes?
Most funders have funding criteria that are based on outcomes. To succeed in convincing funders to support your project, you will need to make a strong case to them based on outcomes.

TIP: Check that your project outcomes are a good match to the outcome criteria of the funding programmes you are applying for.

When describing the outcomes of your project, make sure that you use words that reflect change, such as:

  • improve / increase / promote / gain / more
  • better / stronger
  • less of / reduce / decrease

Involve the community
Make a chart or list of everyone who is affected by, or might have an interest in your project. Ensure you involve them from the earliest possible stage; you will be surprised by the unlikely corners support will come from.

TIP: Take time to listen to the needs of your community and work on refining the outcomes you want to achieve with your project.

You could print questionnaires on paper, organise focus groups or develop a free online survey using Survey Monkey.

Most funders want to see evidence that the community has been involved in the project, whether by defining the need, volunteering or contributing money or other resources. Seek out letters of support. Compile a dossier of evidence to support your funding bids. This could include:

  • Consultation results
    For example, from a survey of childcare demand (see example)
  • A map that shows where the nearest alternative services are
  • Photos supporting the project
  • Source of data
  • Letters of support
  • Evidence of volunteer involvement
    This could be, for example, a parents group. Also, a basic record of volunteer time can be helpful when applying for some grants, where it can be treated as 'match funding'.

Related articles

Funding tips 2 & 3
Funding tips 4 & 5
Funding tips 6 & 7
Developing your funding mix strategy