A Guide to Grant Applications


The team at Groundwork know that writing grant applications can be one of the hardest parts of securing funding for community groups. So they wrote up a handy guide to help you on your way!

The Groundwork report found that writing grant applications is one of the factors that community groups find particularly challenging. As many of us know, it can be a lengthy and complicated process. But don’t worry. We’re here to help. This Groundwork guide combined with the wealth of knowledge across the Semble network will have you writing those applications in no time.

working on a laptop

1. Before you apply

Writing funding applications is much easier, and you are more likely to be successful, if you have prepared well with your group.

Funders require very specific information about what you want their money for, how it will be spent, and what this will help you to achieve.

The person or people writing the application may not be the same people running the activities. By involving as many people as possible from your group in the planning stage, you can make sure you describe the activities accurately and have a clear idea about what you will need to ask for money for.

Different funders fund different things. Having a good idea about what you need funding for will help you apply to funders that are more likely to give you funding.

2. Writing a good application – top tips

1. Have a clear outline of the project – know exactly what you want to do.

2. Assume the funder knows nothing about your organisation or the subject matter.

3. Do not use jargon, use plain, succinct and simple language.

4. Pick out key words in questions which the funder wants to see in each answer – use the funder’s language.

5. Stick to the question, do not deviate.

6. Use positive statements, not weak / negative words (‘We will try …’ is weak, ‘We will…’ is strong).

7. Think of your audience – use headlines, bullet points etc to make it easy for the funder to read.

8. Use visual aids – photographs which will pull on the emotions and show a difference.

9. Don’t waffle – remove any redundant words.

10. Draft a detailed budget based on real figures and do not apply for the maximum amount if you do not need to.

11. Read it aloud to someone else to see if they understand what you are asking for.

12. Allow time to proof read – attention to detail is important.

3. Why do applications fail?

Ten common reasons reported by funders are as follows.

1. The applicant is not eligible because of its legal form, lack of charity status, size or geographical remit.

2. Projects appear poorly planned.

3. Applicants do not present their project clearly and concisely on the application form.

4. The applicant fails to demonstrate that they meet the criteria.

5. Applications are made without monitoring and evaluation processes in place.

6. The budget is problematic and/or unconvincing

7. The applicant misses the deadline.

8. The form is incomplete.

9. The supporting documents are incomplete, inaccurate, out-of-date, contradict the application form or are simply not enclosed.

10. The applicant is asking for too much.


Select this link for the full guide including a breakdown of planning activities to maximise your chances of success, a list of brilliant funding sources and a concise fundraiser’s checklist.

Don’t forget to make the most of the Semble community. There are plenty of community groups across the platform with a wealth of knowledge around writing these applications. So go ahead: connect, share, learn and inspire.

About the Author:

Lorna’s all about purpose led comms. She champions the power of connection. When she’s not talking, writing and recording at her desk she’s making pottery or has her nose in a book.