Saturday, December 15, 2012

Working Smarter: Go the extra mile writing funding applications

I've sat on both sides of the table having submitted and assessed applications for funding.

Many applications I assessed seemed to have been thrown together and lacked detail or attention to detail. The impression I had was that some were submitted by firms to show that they were interested, with no real expectation of winning the funding. Others looked like previous submissions had been redrafted and tarted up to look like a new application. Both approaches may have saved their applicants time and money, but they also assured they wouldn't receive the funding. So why bother?

There is no shortcut to writing a good application for funding or indeed a response to a request for tender (RFT) or request for proposal (RFP). They take time and effort ... you have to spend money to make money.

If you are going to apply for funding or submit a response to an RFT/P, do it properly. Even if you don't win, your company will look good and it might just help out in future applications. Here are some dos for writing applications for funding and responses to requests:

  1. Obtain details of funding offers as soon as they are available to provide as much lead time as possible
  2. Decide early if your organisation can meet the terms of reference and is eligible to apply
  3. Decide if you are going to apply and appoint someone to project manage the task. Alternatively, outsource the activity
  4. Discuss the request with the funding body if you need further information to clarify your response
  5. Answer every question raised in the request
  6. Ensure your document looks professional, has no spelling mistakes, uses sound grammer and syntax, and is succinct, but comprehensive
  7. Meet the advertised submission deadline and submit the application in the format required with all attachments sought
  8. When the process is completed, get feedback about your application, even if you win the job
Going the extra mile:

  1. If possible, include some nice photographs of your workshop, business, staff or other aspects of your organisation that might help build rapport with the assessment team; include a capability statement or brochure about your products or services
  2. Promise more than is asked for ... give value for money (see example)
  3. Telephone a few days after submission to find out if the submission has been received and if anything further is required. This helps establish a human link with the assessing team.


I submitted a response for a client to provide training to a group of youths who were said to be disadvantage. I telephoned an educational psychologist working in the region and asked if his firm would be happy to provide a support service to their youths if necessary. The psychologist said that he would be and provided a letter to that effect.

No costs were mentioned and no agreements were undertaken other than what is described above. When I submitted the application for my client, I included the letter and a statement saying that arrangements had been made to provide additional support if youths had difficulty handling the training. We won the tender.

As it eventuated, none of the students needed additional support and the psychologists services were not needed. It cost my client nothing extra, but showed that she could provide more than what was asked for in the request.

Like all jobs, if they are worth doing, they are worth doing well. Don't let yourself down by spending time and money on sub-standard work.

I provide a review and writing service for Australian clients and am always able to improve their applications. Does your firm submit applications for funding or responses to requests? Who does them? How successful are they?


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