Chidi was determined to make her club available to more girls, but she knew that she would need more money to pay for this. Ingredients cost money, and she knew the church would want rent if she used it more. Already a couple of people commented on how much gas she used for cooking. 

Chidi looked on the internet and found a number of foundations in the UK and America that funded projects like hers. She spent hours finding their emails, drafting letters and sending them. She had no response from most. Some said that they didn’t accept unsolicited proposals. Two said her project sounded great, but she had missed their deadline, and they didn’t know when they would next offer funding. One said that they loved her project and she should apply. 

Chidi was excited but, when she opened the application form, she saw that it was ten pages long. Luckily she had already used the Planning Triangle and could clearly explain her aims and objectives. They asked about risks. They asked for a child protection policy. Luckily she had already prepared these things. However, it took her 10 hours to answer all their questions about her project and the difference it would make to her local community.

Getting grants requires careful planning

Not only do you have to identify organisations that fund projects like yours, but you also have to work out when and whether they are accepting proposals. Each funder will have different application processes, forms and timelines. Some may take months to get back to you. 

Apply smartly – your time is valuable

Don’t apply for a grant if they aren’t accepting proposals – however good it is, they probably won’t even open it. Do:

  • Prepare for grants – make sure you have done the exercises earlier in this guide – many of the questions or requirements will be similar.
  • Spend time on your applications. It’s a very competitive process. Don’t skimp – if they have asked for something and you don’t include it, or don’t answer the question specifically, you may be disqualified. Choose to do one well, rather than three badly. 
  • Apply to different funders for the same project – if you are successful for both, you can always discuss adapting the project slightly so that you can reach more people.
  • Check if they are offering to fund the whole project or only a proportion of costs. You will be expected to deliver the whole project and find the additional money to do so.

Unsolicited proposals

Many funders say that they don’t accept unsolicited proposals. This means that they are not accepting applications even if your project is perfect for them.

Reflection Questions

  1. Has your organisation applied for grants? Have you been successful?
  2. What have your greatest challenges been?
  3. What lessons have you learnt?

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