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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

An expert’s guide to applying for funding

This opinion piece is about 9 years old

Sandra Hogg provides some hints and tips on attracting money to your cause

With over £350m worth of funding available on the new Funding Scotland website, voluntary and community groups have no excuse not to chase those pounds.

But finding who has money locally and nationally is just the first step to raising the much needed cash to refurbish your community building or back a new local arts festival.

The next important move is to check your organisation is eligible for the particular fund – there’s no point in spending time filling in forms that will fall at the first hurdle. Funders want to hear from the right organisations, so if you’re in doubt, give them a ring to discuss it. Many funders have people waiting at the other end of the phone, desperate to give you some advice.

An expert’s guide to applying for funding

Funders want winners, so blow your own trumpet. Make sure you can show how your proposal is different to all the rest.

Sandra Hogg

Funders want winners, so blow your own trumpet. Make sure you can show how your proposal is different to all the rest. Highlight the unique benefits you have to offer your community.

Ensure your application also stands out by being clear about what you want to do. Funders often complain about applications that haven’t stated what the funding will be spent on.

So, make sure you demonstrate why your community needs your project; outline what you’re going to do; highlight the other community stakeholders or advocates that are involved, such as councillors, MSPs and local businesses; and have a clear budget. You need to know what success looks like from the start so you can tell potential funders how you will measure it.

One common mistake is leaving it too late. Check out the application deadlines and apply for funds well in advance of when you need them. Also, read the small print. If you’re applying for a large grant you may need a certified statement of income and expenditure which has to be prepared by an accountant. Check out the conditions of grant in detail.

Be positive amd believe in your project but be prepared for rejection. UK funders are overwhelmed with applications every year and much as they would love to, can’t fund everyone.

Don’t try to contort your project to fit in with the mission of an inappropriate funder. Funders will spot this and if they don’t it could send your project spiralling off in the wrong direction, making it harder to sustain in the long-term.

It is also worth taking a look at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations' guide How to Raise Funds, which provides detailed support on filling in a funding applicaition.

Finally, don’t give up. Keep looking on Funding Scotland to check whether there are new funds opening up or new criteria that fits your needs. There is no such thing as a typical funder, each one is different and your very own Fairy Godfunder could be at the top of your next search.

Sandra Hogg is a development officer at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations and works on Funding Scotland.