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How to explain to a funder why your project is needed in 300 words

Funders are getting more and more applications. Organisations are facing increasing demands from people who are closer and closer to crisis point. The gap between successful and unsuccessful applications is narrowing. How do you convince a funder to choose your project over another in 300 words?

The following tips might help.

Things you'll need

  • A well-defined project proposal and a sound knowledge of the needs your project will meet.

Know your project

Before you embark on convincing a funder to part with their money to make your project a reality, the project needs to have been talked about, mind mapped, consulted on and discussed at length with as many people as possible. You, the application writer, need to be completely convinced that this project is needed. If you have doubt, so will the funder. If you're unclear that it will meet the needs it sets out to meet, the funder will also be unclear.

If you're posting your project onto a crowdfunding site, the general public are even harder to convince, so if you don't know your project inside out, they'll struggle to relate to it.


Have your full project proposal handy

Again, this seems like common sense but the reality is that organisations often see a funding opportunity and shoehorn a project into it. The full project proposal comes out of the application instead of the other way around.

Having a thoughtfully designed project proposal to hand makes writing an application relatively easy. You don’t have to sit for hours wracking your brain for the right words or searching through files, folders and websites for relevant statistics, quotes or examples. All you need to do in the ‘Explain how your project will meet the need’ section is find the relevant information, quotes and real life experiences from the full proposal and summarise them. In fact, funding applications are designed with the understanding that the application writer will be summarising a much more complete project proposal.

If you're shoehorning a project, it'll show.


Know the need and your ability to meet it

Knowing the need seems obvious but some needs are very complex. Depending on the size of your project and the size of the funding pot, the funder may not be convinced that you're being realistic about what you can achieve.

Too often, grant writers try to save the world, they overpromise and risk underperforming. Be realistic and your application will have a better chance of success.

Rather than saying your project will reduce unemployment in Manchester, be more specific. Tell the funder what aspects of unemployment you aim to reduce. If yours is a small organisation working with people who face multiple barriers to securing employment, you may contribute to reducing unemployment in Manchester, but you won't be able to reduce it singlehandedly. You may have more success if you say something like:

We will work with people with little or no IT skills and they will become independent learners who are better able to meet their Department for Work and Pensions commitments and move closer to employment.

The funder has to believe that you have an in depth knowledge of the need and of the complexities of the need. They also have to believe that you understand the capabilities and limitations of your own organisation. They want specifics, not generalisations. They want to be able to visualise before and after, to be able to imagine the changes that will take place. If there is a mismatch between your size and your ambitions, you're unlikely to be successful.

The reverse also applies. If the funder thinks you could do more than you're proposing, you are unlikely to be successful.

It's important to be honest and realistic about your organisation, what it's capable of and the scale of your potential impact.  


Inject the passion

Yes, you only have 300 words and yes it's important to use evidence of need, but the funder wants to know why YOUR project will meet the needs better than another project. Using statistics is one way, but we live in an environment of spending cuts and reduced public sector staffing which means that up to date statistics are getting harder to find.

Funders are more interested in how you've developed your project, why it has taken the shape it has and who made the decision about how your project should be designed. It's increasingly important to involve service users in project design and use their experiences to explain how the format evolved.

If you want to start a singing group as a vehicle for raising people’s confidence because your job search group thought learning breathing and voice projection techniques might help them appear more confident during interviews, tell the funder that. Those 35 words tell a story but they also give the funder information about:

  • The target group
  • Their life situation and the challenges they face
  • What's important to them
  • The impact the project might have
  • Who's making decisions about the design and format of the project

Add to this, the number of people in the job search group, who else you'll invite to participate and why together with some recent, relevant information about the local community or community of interest and you'll have gone a long way to convincing the funder that your project is the one they should fund.

Instead of looking for funding for your organisation and fitting your projects into available funding opportunities, turn it around and have a folder of project ideas that have been fully scoped and consulted on. Then look for the right funder for each project. Writing applications will become so much easier.

Further information

Read more about writing grant applications

Book a place on our bid writing training course


Page last edited Feb 25, 2022 History

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