Four Principles for a Winning Grant Application

Principle 1: Clearly articulate the problem

This does not mean simply outlining what your charity/not-for-profit do. 

You need to demonstrate the problem that this specific project is seeking to address, and why your organisation requires funding. 

  • Are you facing unforeseen circumstances? 
  • Are you trying to expand your reach/impact? 
  • Have you lost an ongoing funding source that puts the longevity of your organisation at risk? 

Wherever possible support this narrative with further analysis, evidence, facts and figures. This makes the problem real and tangible. 

The next question… Why now? Many grant applications aim at providing short-term funding support, so it is critical that the problem you are facing is imminent.

This first principle is the most important. Once the reader is convinced that you are facing hardship, or that you have a clear problem, they are far more engaged in the rest of the application and will be more invested to see how they can help. 

Principle 2: Make your submission outcomes focused

Present specific benefits that your project will deliver and explain how these will be measured. This may involve setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or other relevant criteria.

 Whilst this may seem an excessive level of detail, a strong reporting framework shows the reader that you are serious about making meaningful change, and that you want to measure and remain accountable for these outcomes.

Where relevant, it is useful to directly link the outcomes of your project to higher order goals and objectives. Does the project support the United Nations Sustainable Development goals? Does it contribute towards the realisation of broader government strategies?

Principle 3: Demonstrate your understanding of the local area

If you are preparing a grant application for a local council, it is critical that you demonstrate a sound understanding of the local context. Conduct analysis on the local area.

What are the demographics?
What issues are prevalent in the community?
Your project should focus on how you will make a material impact within this locality.

Principle 4: Have a well-defined 'project'

So many grant applications are let down by a vague funding request. Asking for financial support to cover basic operational expenses is not going to make the cut.

This part of the application needs to be very succinct, and well thought through. Ask yourself some basic questions:

  • What exactly will you be spending the money on?
  • What is the exact amount you require?
  • How many years do you require funding for?
If funding is required for multiple items, be very explicit with the breakdown, and triple check the numbers.

Follow these four principles and you’ll be on the right track in securing your next grant.

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