Ten Steps to the Perfect Funding Bid: Step Ten

Final Read-through

If you’ve followed the first nine steps (plus the odd addition along the way), your bid should be in pretty good shape.  Quite rightly, the Ten Steps blog finishes with Step Ten, and covers the final read-through.  It’s a rather more important stage than you may have assumed!

Before reading your own bid one last time, go back to the funder’s priorities and re-read those.  Don’t assume – SHOW them that you have understood their priorities.  Find key phrases within their guidelines, and ensure that you have used some of the exact same words within your application.  Specifically mention one or more of their priorities, at least two or three times!  Make it really easy for the panel or the independent appraiser(s) to recognise how your project fits into their priorities.  Huge numbers of funding applications are rejected because they don’t meet the funder’s priorities as closely as other applications – don’t let this happen to yours.

Then get someone else to do a grammar check.  Someone who tuts when they see an incorrect apostrophe.  Someone who always texts in full words and sentences.  Someone who has a habit of ranting about “Facebook language” and the mis-use of  their, they’re and there.  You may find these people a mild irritant, but at this stage they are your best friend!  It’s best if they neither know nor care about the project – their task is simply to check grammar, punctuation, spelling, and layout.

Rightly or wrongly most trustees of charitable foundations are “of a certain age”, and of a certain educational background, and are annoyed by out-of-place apostrophes and bad grammar.  Don’t give them the opportunity to get annoyed by unnecessary mistakes in your bid.  Why does this matter so much?  Look at it this way.  I’ve just been sent a whole heap of bids to appraise.  I’m curled up on my sofa, bids in front of me on the coffee table, score-sheet on my lap.  This particular funder allows me to give only whole marks, between 0 and 5.  Obviously most reasonable bids would fall within the 3 or 4 score range.  So I pick up the first bid.  On the front page in question 1 is a glaring misplaced apostrophe.  I can’t help it – I’m niggled by it.  I try to set aside my annoyance but that’s it, they’ve irritated me on the first page.  So then in question 2 they have pasted in their whole organisational aims and objectives, though the question asked for only the project’s aims.  In question 3 which asks for evidence of need they have written “All the young people attending our centre have said they want to go on this trip.”  Now then.  If I hadn’t been annoyed by the apostrophe, I might have been more generous in questions 2 and 3.  They might have got the 4.  Instead, they get the 3.  Multiply that through the whole bid, and do the maths.  This is the equivalent of getting 60% in an exam, rather than achieving 80%.  It’s a big difference, and it’s avoidable.  Don’t annoy the person who is scoring your bid.

and finally …….

Re-check your charitable remit against what you have said you plan to do;

Check that you have enclosed all the required enclosures;

Check and that all questions on the form have been answered;

Check that you have quoted the funder’s priorities back at them;

Check apostrophes – is it a plural or a possessive?

Then print it off, get the right signatures (please don’t sign it from the Fundraising Officer!), and post.  Or press the Send button if it’s an online application.

Good luck!

©  Tamara Essex 2012

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