Top 10 Tips for Grant Applications

Particularly under the current circumstances, many social businesses and community organisations will need to complete grant applications. Here, our Business Development Officer, Paul Stepczak, provides his top ten tips for creating successful applications. While the level of detail may not be relevant in some cases due to the size of the grant or the context of COVID 19, the principles remain the same.

See this page in: Cymraeg

Tip 1

Read the guidelines thoroughly.

Particularly check…

  • Eligibility (can I go for this? Do I have requirements? Could I team up with someone if I don’t?)
  • Suitability (does it meet my organisation’s aims, values and objectives?  Is this right for me right now?  Am I doing this for the right reasons?)
  • Capability (am I able to resource this?  Am I able to deliver what is required?)
  • Competition (who else do I think will go for this and what would make me different/stand out?)

Tip 2

Get your (updated) documents in order.

In the guidance, identify what documents need to supplied with your application and ensure that they are up to date.  Examples include…

  • Audited annual accounts
  • Insurances (e.g. Public Liability, Public Indemnity, Employers Liability etc.)
  • Policies (Equality & Diversity, Data Protection, Cyber Security, Safeguarding, Environmental, The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act etc.)
  • Organisation Rules/Governing Document/Constitution

Tip 3

Get your (updated) finances in order.

This is imperative.  You need to demonstrate that you are fully competent of managing any monies awarded and that you still have enough funds to continue operating outside of the fund.  Examples include…

  • Latest Annual Accounts (sometimes for 2 years)
  • Ensure that your group’s existence is not wholly dependent on the award.
  • Consider if you have enough or too much in reserves and would this affect your application?

Tip 4

Answer the question!

No waffle or overwhelming with information; keep to the point.

  • Ensure responses are “weighted” correctly (some applications are scored with a percentage for each question so ensure that that this is taken into account).
  • Make every word count (many applications have restrictions on word count.  Ensure you answer the question within this limit)
  • Use short and direct sentences using facts and evidence (make a claim, prove it by showing process and endorse with evidence)
  • Promote and explain the benefits, not the features

Tip 5

Use simple language.

Don’t assume the reader’s understanding.  Be clear and provide explanation.

  • Avoid acronyms without explanation
  • Avoid technical language if it’s not already being used
  • Don’t make sweeping statements that you can’t explain or back up
  • Use positive and affirmative words rather than subjective i.e. we WILL, we CAN, not we AIM TO nor HOPE TO

Tip 6

Acknowledge the awarding body’s perspective.

Obtaining funding could be regarded as a “partnership agreement” between the funder and recipient.  Therefore, with any partnership, there needs to be some synergy between the two parties.  You can do this by…

  • Fully associating yourself with their aims and values and write to complement them
  • Don’t assume their understanding
  • Mirror language to demonstrate understanding and to keep you on track

Tip 7

Identify your Unique Selling Point.

You can guarantee that many funding opportunities will be competitive.  Therefore, you need to emphasise the following:-

  • What makes you different from the competition?
  • What added value will you bring?

Tip 8

Demonstrate clearly how the money will be spent. 

A funder is trusting you to be responsible with their money and want to ensure they are investing in something that is of value.  Therefore, clearly state…

  • What resources will you need
  • Itemise what the money will be spent on
  • What partnerships/networks can you tap into to make your grant go further?
  • If applicable, don’t forget VAT, recruitment/redundancy contribution, overheads, IT equipment, venue hire, management time etc.

Tip 9

Demonstrate what successful completion will look like.

What will the funder get for their money and how will this achievement be promoted?

  • What will be achieved?
  • What will this look like?
  • How will this be presented?

Tip 10

Get a second opinion.

Always get someone impartial to check your application – does it make sense to them?  Is it realistic?  Are there any mistakes?  Would they fund it if they had the money?

  • Sense check for 3rd party understanding
  • Spelling, grammar and punctuation check (from humans, not Microsoft Word)
  • Math check (from humans, not from Microsoft Excel)
  • 3rd party scoring (if possible)



About Paul:

Paul Stepczak is the Business Development Officer for the Wales Co-operative Centre. Paul has a wealth of experience in supporting community groups and social enterprises to successfully obtain funding, supporting the Wales Co-operative Centre with their own applications and tenders.

For more information on preparing grant applications and growth support for your social business or community organisation, contact us on 0300 111 5050 or email

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