How to apply for funding

Four people admiring some potted flowering plants.

Tackling Loneliness Hub members have recently been sharing their expertise and insights on applying for funding. Their wealth of knowledge has been compiled into this collaborative blog post. A huge thank you to everyone who contributed and please keep asking questions and sharing useful resources in the Funding Streams Group so we can support our continuous learning. 

Four people admiring some potted flowering plants.

Top tips on how to apply for funding

Development and Fundraising Consultant, Catherine Dempsey, has worked with organisations and partnerships working on social justice, health and wellbeing and community building over the past eleven years, applying for funding from charitable trusts, foundations, National Lottery Community Fund, and statutory funders like local authorities and central government departments. Here are her top tips for successful funding applications:

  • Look for really good matches between your work or mission and the funding programme, and avoid mission creep.
  • Forefront the voices and stories of the people you work with, and explain how they are involved in decision making, strategy, design, delivery and governance of your organisation or project.
  • Focus on the difference your project or activities will make. Describe this as clearly as possible and explain how you measure this.
  • Quantify everything. How many people will you work with, time period of the project, number of sessions, etc. Quantify the difference your project will make so that it’s as clear as possible to the funder how the funding will be spent.
  • Think about your resources in the broadest sense . You might have an amazing number of volunteers helping your community, or use of an office. Calculate the ‘in kind’ value of any additional resources and tell the funder about it.
  • Build a community of partners and funders. The more collaborative and less competitive your approach, the greater the benefits, plus partnerships can open up unexpected sources of funding. Build relationships with local funders wherever you can, such as through local community foundations, local voluntary sector infrastructure support, local giving schemes, external funding teams at your local authority.
  • Every word counts. You often have to work with tight word limits in a funding application, so make sure every word is working to increase your score and improve your chances of success.
  • Social proof your applications. Tell funders about your partners and other funders as this helps to build a picture of your credibility.
  • Make sure everything adds up from the project budget to your accounts. If there’s anything unusual, add some text to explain. For example you might have spent designated reserves on an infrastructure project, which explains why your expenditure was high last year.
  • Build in as much time as possible for you and others to review your application. It’s really useful if someone who knows nothing about your work can read the application to let you know if it is clear and makes sense.
  • Celebrate your successes and don’t let the losses get you down. Even unsuccessful applications can be a first step in engaging with and getting to know a new funder or partner. The process of applying often helps with developing your approach and writing for future funding applications, so always ask for feedback from the funder if available.

Resources to support your fundraising efforts 

We’ve compiled a collection of resources and articles designed to guide you through the funding process. Have you come across any further resources that have aided your own funding journey? We’d love for you to share them in the Funding Streams Group:


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