One simple way to know where to start

Many people feel overwhelmed when they begin to search for grant opportunities and write funding applications – in fact, even when you have written hundreds, it can still feel overwhelming!

“Where do I start?”

“How do I know which is the right grant to apply for?”

“What can we apply for?”

“How much do I need to write?”

During my 20 years of experience, I have lost track of how many hours I have spent looking for funding, writing applications and occasionally tearing my hair out in frustration!

One of the most, if not THE most important action you can take before even opening that application is to check that you are eligible to apply.

Many funders are only able to give grants to organisations with specific legal structures, so it is crucial that you understand the legal status of your organisation – and then check that the funder can offer you grants.

Do you understand the legal structure of your organisation? Are you a registered charity? Are you a Community Interest Company – a Community Amateur Sports Club, an Unincorporated Group? If you are a school are you a State School, a Private School, an Academy or a Trust School? These days there are many legal structures and it is worth double-checking that your understanding is right.

One of the first things you need to do when you discover a new grant-funding source is check whether you are eligible to apply. There is no point wasting your time (and the funder’s time) on a great application if you are not eligible to apply. Some funders will only fund schools – some will only fund charities. Some will fund not-for-profit organisations that have charitable objectives. Some will fund extra-curricular activities for schools but won’t allow funding to be used within school hours. Every funder is different, and they are very unlikely to be able to break their own rules.

Look at this as a positive. This is a great way to strip back the number of applications you can write, and that helps to tackle that overwhelming feeling. You may have a list of 100 potential grant funders, but do you really want to write 100 grant applications? Even if you had unlimited time, which I’m guessing you haven’t, it would take a lot of effort to write 100 quality applications that reflect your organisation in a good light.

Allocate some specific time to reading through the eligibility criteria of all the potential funders you have discovered. The criteria are usually clearly stated in the application guidelines or on the funder’s website such as in the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section. Don’t panic as you start to discard numerous funders. This is great, it is saving you time and getting you closer to the funders that really match your organisation and project.

Keep a list, a file or folder of the details of the funders you can apply to. At this point they may not be the right one for your current project or activity, but what about the future? You don’t want to have to go through this process every time you want to apply for funding.

You now should have a shortlist of grant funders that you are eligible to apply for.

There are still a few more steps to take before you start to craft your application. You will need to discover the types of grants the organisation makes – do they focus on social welfare, education, sport or art? Do they only fund organisations with a certain level of income? Do they fund projects for the age group or demographic of people that you work with? I’ll address these in future blog posts – and feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions.

But the first step is identifying whether you are eligible to apply at all.

For more tips, advice, and information about funds that are available, pop over to my Facebook Group ‘Straight Forward Funding and Organisation Support’– it is totally free to join and a great place to find out more about grant funding.

Straight Forward Funding Newsletter

For grant funding information straight to your inbox, sign up here. Just enter your details below, and remember to verify your subscription!! It’s completely free, and you can unsubscribe at any time!