How to Get Funding for Your Project


Stacked coinsThere is no magic formula for preparing a successful funding application.  Different funders will want different information and probably from slightly different angles, and the application forms can be long and arduous to complete! Set yourself up for success by avoiding some of the most common pitfalls.

  • From the outset assume that whoever assesses your project has no prior knowledge of your project at all.  It may seem obvious to you what your project will do, why it is important and who it is important to and why and whether your group has the capacity to deliver, but the grants officer assigned to your project may not know your group, your area or why it is so important that your group gets funding for its project. Grants officers also read and process large numbers of grant applications.    It’s a good idea to put yourself in their shoes when preparing a funding submission and help by being as clear and concise as you can when writing your funding proposal.
  • Know what grant scheme you are applying for and know what it is designed to do and what it is designed to deliver. Many applications are not considered because applicants do undertake this basic piece of research and the activities proposed fail to meet the specific grant scheme conditions.   
  • Avoid the ‘there is grant money available so they can give it to me' syndrome. Grant schemes have boundaries and specific circumstances within which Grants are only given. Yes they are looking to award the grant money, but only to the most worthy eligible applications. 
  • Avoid rushing an application and not reading the supporting guidance. Relying on grant titles to tell you what a scheme is for is NOT recommended.  Obtain any published guidance material and read it before applying (this also has other benefits as many grant schemes come with conditions attached and it is better to consider those before you apply).
  • Don’t stretch the boundaries of the grant scheme by proposing activities that border what the grant is designed to support, or by including minor eligible activities as part of a larger non-eligible project.
  • Avoid picking up key words from the scheme guidance and then trying to make the grant scheme fit the application or trying to shoe-horn a project into a specific grant scheme.  If what you need a grant for is excluded or predominantly excluded in the guidance then it is time to rethink and seek alternatives.
  • Applications fail because applicants have not been critical enough of a project at an early stage in its development.
  • Applications fail when applicants believe that their project or application is far more important than it really is.To judge whether your project is eligible and put it in context, try to find examples that the grant scheme has funded and critically compare them with yours.   They are usually documented publicly somewhere.


    Many grants to not fund the full cost of a project. Very often grant schemes will fund a percentage of the total cost of the project.  The part of the cost that the grant will not cover  needs to be found from another source and that is match funding.  Match funding is not matching the grant pound for pound.  For example if a grant scheme offers 90% of a project’s costs the applicant has to put at least 10%   match funding towards the project.  In some cases grant funds only offer 40-50% grants.  The applicant has to find the means to cover the remaining 50-60% of the project costs.  Its important therefore to understand how much the grant will covered how much remains to be found before making the grant application.

    Some grant schemes require that match funding is made available in cash, but some allow an in-kind contribution which takes account of the time people involved in the project give free of charge, or a non-cash contribution that takes account of any goods or services provided free of charge. Its important to know which is allowable for a particular grant scheme so that you do not waste time making applications that will be rejected for not having the necessary match funding.