The funders on this site have all been carefully vetted, and the search engine has been carefully designed, so that the results you get should all be good potential funders for your project. However, you should bear in mind that most trusts and foundations receive hundreds if not thousands of applications every year. They will only be able to fund a relatively small proportion of the applications they receive. All the trustees I have met have been good people who are absolutely committed to funding good works. They want to use their limited resources wisely, to achieve the best possible outcome for their trust, the projects they fund, and society. As people who are fundraising for a project, we should be seeking to help them.
The sad truth is that most of the applications they receive will be poorly written and poorly targeted. This is a constant complaint from the trustees of these bodies. One of the aims of this site is to reduce the number of applications that these funders receive, and to improve their quality. This will help all of us by allowing trustees to make good choices about the projects they fund and allowing good projects to shine through.
Even when an organisation has chosen the trusts they are going to apply to well, they are sadly often let down by a poorly structured application. The application should be written clearly to be read by a very busy person who is reading hundreds of similar applications, trying to find the best projects to fund. If it helps you can think of it as writing an essay or answering an exam question.
The best applications are between two and five pages long. Any less and it won’t contain sufficient detail for the trustees to make a decision, any more and there is too much detail.
There are many ways to structure a funding application, but the following is a good guideline if you don’t know where to start. You should be trying to answer the following questions in the first couple of paragraphs:
What problem are we trying to solve? How does this project solve it?
This should be as clear and straightforward as possible, with no impenetrable jargon or acronyms.
An example could be
"This project supports people who are street homeless into temporary accommodation by offering them advice and support in dealing with the local council."
"Poor facilities at our church mean that we are unable to welcome families in the way we want. We will be installing new toilets and a new kitchen so that we can run a lunch club and creche."
"Our roof is leaking, and we want to repair it before more damage can occur."
How much will it cost and how much are you asking for?
Again, you should present a clear cost for the overall project, with a clear indication of how much you are asking for. For example:
In total this project will cost £100,000 of which we are contributing £40,000 from our own reserves and have raised £20,000 from the congregation. We are seeking the support of trusts and foundations to raise the remaining £40,000.
The main body of the document can then give the details of the project, which should be presented factually. You can outline the number of people who will benefit, how long the project will last, how you will know you have been successful, and any other relevant information. Pictures are good if you have them, but ideally you should include no more than one or two.
You should also write a cover letter to go with your application. This should include a summary of who you are, what your project is about, how much it will cost, and how much you need.