8 top tips to develop a successful funding proposal
Updated: Nov 7, 2018
Today, a good friend of mine asked me to look at a proposal that she was working on, as she wanted some feedback before submitting it.
After reading through it three times, making notes along the way, AND a 45-minute phone call, I finally understood what she was proposing.
The proposal definitely wasn’t bad, but it was just difficult to; draw out the deliverables, understand details of how her team planned to implement the workstreams, and there were not any metrics to present what success looked like.
My advice to her and to anyone developing a proposal for an external funder is:
Fully read through the guidance. This will tell you what is in and out of scope.
Call the funder if this is possible to ask them what type of proposals they are looking for and what points they want to be emphasised.
Make some uninterrupted time to work on this proposal. Turn off your phone and email. You need to focus!
Get organised. I strongly advise not to just start trying to write on the application form. For those of us supporting NHS organisations, we often need to gather evidence, cite, strategic documents, workforce data and financial information.
Plan what you need and have it to hand before your big write, otherwise you will constantly be stopping and starting which isn’t good for your productivity.
Also, start your proposal on a blank word document and then copy and paste it into the main application. For me, it just makes it easy to read and spell check.
Don’t promise the world. There is a tendency in the proposals I see to overpromise on what people can actually do.
Here my advice just a few workstreams or 1 big one. By all means, be ambitious, but if you set the bar too high when you know you have limited time and capacity this will only end in disappointment, frustration and could prevent you from being awarded funds from the same funder again if you don’t deliver.
Don’t be afraid to put a number on it. If you want to increase the number of something, state it. Don’t make the funder try to guess. They will need to know what they are paying for and your team needs to know what is expected of them. Don’t be scared to set a goal.
Make it easy for the reader. Use subheadings, colour, add an introduction or summary and just focus on answering the why, who, what, where, how and how much. Never go over the word count and where possible keep it concise.
And lastly of course, get someone to check it before sending it off :-)