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Writing a funding application

We’ve pulled together the most common questions from our experience working with trusts and foundations, and given some tips on how best to answer them.

No two organisations are identical, and therefore it is important to treat each funding application in the same way. While you can’t copy and paste all of the answers in your application form, you can have a good idea of what you might expect to be asked, and do some preparation beforehand.

The best way to do this is by checking the application process for the trust or foundation that you want to apply for a grant from. However sometimes this might not be possible – they might not have released details of their funding yet, or you might not have identified who you want to approach yet. Even when that’s the case, you can still start working on your application by anticipating what you might be asked.

We’ve pulled together the most common questions from our experience working with trusts and foundations, and given some tips on how best to answer them.

Your contact details

You’ll need to give details of how the trust or foundation can get in touch with you, so make sure you check and double check that the contact details are right.
Some trusts and foundations will need the most senior person in your organisation or group to sign off the application, so if that is not you, make sure they know about it, and make sure they are available to sign off the application (particularly if you are leaving it to the last minute).

Your organisation/group aims and objectives

This is usually your mission and vision. If your group doesn’t have any decided locally, speak to your line manager to find out what theirs are – now would be a good time for your group to decide your own. Why not check out the Scouts’ aims and objectives?

Background of your organisation/group

Most trusts and foundations will need evidence that your group has been running for a set amount of time, and that you have a track record for delivering similar activities. If you’re looking to deliver something entirely new, then try to demonstrate your success in delivering projects of a similar scale, or show your ability to scale-up.

Evidence of need

Most funders provide grants to places and causes that are most at need. Increasingly, they will ask for evidence that there is a need. For example, you could be based in a deprived community and want to provide opportunities to go on a camp for young people whose families cannot afford the costs. In this case, it would be helpful to tell the funder how many of the families live in Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) areas 1-3.

Some ideas of where to get this information include;

  • Scouts Impact ReportsYou’ll find lots of information about the impact that Scouting has on young people, and what expected outcomes your project might achieve. 
  • Census and population dataUseful to profile the populations in the area your project will cover. 
  • Indices of Multiple Deprivation Provides detailed relative deprivation data across seven distinct domains of deprivation. This information can be useful when applying for funding to support those experiencing financial hardship. 
  • Crime Statistics This can be useful if your project is looking at diversionary activities to encourage young people away from crime and youth offending.
  • Statistics on pupils in schools While Scouting is a non-formal education, this will provide information about children of a school age, which falls in line with Scouting ages. 
  • Physical activity data Many of the activities done through Scouting are physically active. This resource gives detail on how physically active communities and populations are, while outlining the benefits of being physically active. 

    In addition to this data, don’t forget to speak to the young people, parents, leaders and communities that will be benefitting from this project. A mixture of qualitative (the stories and quotes) and quantitative (the hard facts) is usually a great way to go.

What are you applying for?

This is where you’ll outline the details of what you are hoping to achieve with your project, and what the funding that you are applying for will cover. You’ll need to be clear about what the funder will and will not fund, and ensure you make it clear how your project fits in with this. For example, many trusts and foundations will only fund something new, rather than the continuation of an existing project, so you will need to demonstrate how you will get the project started and how you will establish it. Many funders like to see that their funding has a legacy, so if you are able to demonstrate how this will become sustainable, it may help your case. This could include funding a training course for leaders so that they can continue to deliver a particular activity for young people for years to come.

How does your project meet the criteria?

Many grants available will have set criteria that you must meet to be eligible to apply, or for you to be considered for the application. The best way to approach this is to clearly outline how you meet each criteria rather than to be too elaborate. Trusts and foundations can receive hundreds of applications throughout the year, so you should make it as easy as possible for them to see how you meet the criteria they have set out.

Project budget

For a funder to give significant amounts of money to a group or organisation, they need to know that the project has been properly costed out, and that you know actual costs, rather than estimates. Often, funders will not pay for things that have been already bought (unless outlined in their criteria), so you will need to have a plan of what the funding will be spent on if your application is successful. It's a good idea to get quotes for the equipment, courses or activities that you are looking to spend the money on.

If your project lasts more than a year, it's advisable to take into account the cost of inflation and potential price increases for anything within your project plan.

Monitoring and evaluation

Funders will want to know that their funding is being put to good use, and will therefore many ask for some kind of monitoring data as a minimum. This might be the number of people benefitting from the project, the number of activities run, or they may ask for case studies. For bigger projects, or where larger amounts of funding have been given, they may ask for a more in-depth evaluation of the project. This could include questionnaires before and after the project to see what impact the young people have seen.

It’s useful to include the planning for this ahead of the start of your project, so that you can build the monitoring and evaluation in to the project plan. Knowing what your project’s proposed outcomes are going to be makes it a lot easier to plan the evaluation and to factor it in from the start, rather than trying to collect the data retrospectively.