Successful Grant Applications

The Glacier Trust is a member of the Small Charities Coalition. They have lots of great advice for folk like me who are trying to get to grips with running a small charity. On the first Friday of the month they have a free afternoon workshop hosted by the International Fundraising Consultancy and featuring a guest speaker. I went along on for January's session on grant applications.

The session was led by Atul Srivastava formerly of NSPCC, CPRE and TCV and an expert on major donors. Atul's presentation centered around 16 top tips:

Tip 1: Success starts with understanding the different types of Trusts and Foundations
Tip 2. Tailor your message and Case for Support for each type of Trust
Tip 3: for Private and Family Trusts, adopt the 7 Stages of Major Donor Fundraising
Tip 4: for Corporate Foundations, adopt the key principles of Corporate Fundraising
Tip 5: for Institutional Foundations and Lottery, adopt a project or event management approach
Tip 6: MISSING - Argh!! What is it Atul?! :)
Tip 7: Apply to the Lesser Spotted Heritage Lottery Fund funding streams
Tip 8: Heritage Lottery Fund want more applications for the under represented areas
Tip 9: For Big Lottery Fund it won’t help to try to tick more than 1 outcome
Tip 10: For new BLF Reaching Communities applications, speak with them early. They will suggest other funders if your application is unlikely to succeed.  
Tip 11: BLF want more applications for the under represented areas
Tip 12: Sequence Awards for All and Reaching Communities applications. 
Tip 13: Embed time for engaging with fundraising into the written annual objectives of operational colleagues.  
Tip 14: Separate activity and income targets.
Tip 15: Balance Quantity and Quality
Tip 16: Keep your Trusts Fundraiser motivated! 

The seven steps of major donor fundraising was really interesting. 'Cultivation' is an art, it's the dark arts. Every charity should have a cultivation (or to phrase it more gently, engagement) strategy:

1. Identify: your charity has a network of partners, non-financial supporters, members or individual donors. 
2. Prospect Research: wealth screening eg Prospecting for Gold, property value research.
3. Planning: tailored Donor Development Plan for each prospect. 
4. Cultivate and Involve: your charity has opportunity for events, site visits, expert input. 
5. Making the ask: at the right time and level, by the right person, for the right area of work. 
6. Closing: securing agreement, pledges in writing, following up with requested information.
7. Thank and Steward: procedure according to giving level. 

Here are a few other bullet points I jotted down, some of these are just helpful reminders, others were totally new to me:

  • Treat family or individual trusts like major donors - the seven steps usually apply.
  • Investigate Livery companies and whether we can get some gift in kind support from them
  • Visit the Directory of Social Change library on Holloway Road
  • Subscribe to the Institute of Fundraising and READ the magazine, has lots of top tips and information on changes to legislation that might impact on charity fundraising
  • To get into the IoF fundraising convention (usually in July) for free, look into opportunities to volunteer at it.
  • Look at Association of Charitable Foundations, especially their reports; e.g. Top 300 Foundation grant makers and Top 100 Family Trusts
  • Get in touch with Environmental Funders Network
  • Do some 'network mapping' e.g. ask previous funders if they will introduce you to other funders.
  • When applying be FAB (Features, Activities, Benefits) but focus, focus, focus on BENEFITS
  • It is called Children in Need, not Buildings in Need.
  • Remember that foundations are giving through you to the cause
  • Scrutinise your database for potential major donors
  • Create a tailored donor development plan for each potential major donor in your database
  • Look into 'wealth screening' and the ethics of it. 
  • Look up Prospecting for Gold who help you to find high net worth individuals in your database - all feels slightly uncomfortable to me. 
  • When meeting with corporates, have 'listening meetings' i.e. shut up and let them talk for the first meeting at least.
  • Corporates want a WIN-WIN, never forget that.
  • Think about giving your core work a new snappy name, this can help you bring in core funding, e.g. 'Carbon Army' worked for Atul at BTCV.
  • It is possible to build core costs into project funding, remember that your programme manager spends time on every project - designing, planning, budgeting, reporting, monitoring, evaluation, etc are part of a project. 
  • Be careful not to 'follow the funding'; avoid taking on projects that are not core to your mission and have low returns on investment. 

If you'd like a copy of Atul's presentation, please get in touch, I have permission to share it. 

Good luck!


Morgan Phillips