Writing Your Application – Good Comms Make All The Difference
Make them want to read it
Don’t bore your potential funder – especially if they are sifting a huge pile of proposals, and will need to be jettisoning some requests, regardless of whether they meet the technical requirements. You will need:
A good opener
Tell them what they need to know, not what you want to tell them. Above all, don’t cut and paste unedited text into application after application, giving the same pitch to everyone. Even if you are asking for a small amount of money, they want to know that you are asking them for money – not every funder that passes.
Part of that personalisation is reflecting the tone and language of your funder.
Cut the jargon, keep it consistent
Use your own jargon and technical language sparingly – remembering that for the uninitiated, these act as speed bumps, slowing down comprehension (or in some cases causing people to skim or give up).
Similarly, some applications can sound like they are designed by committee, with the language, tone and tense veering about from paragraph to paragraph (as different parts of the organisation have pasted in their bit.) It is your job to unify that raw material into a single voice.
Make them feel part of it
Again, make it about them and the ultimate beneficiaries, not primarily about you. “Please give us £20k and we’ll do something amazing…” is not as compelling as “your 20k grant means that young people like Ruth can achieve X”.
Find the right level of detail
As previously mentioned, good storytelling is memorable, expands upon evidence, simplifies the complex and helps people to feel as well as think. But remember there’s a difference between focusing on small details to make a point and a blizzard of facts. The funder won’t want all the minutiae of how you will deliver a project – instead, find a mix between what is really salient, and what will most excite people.
Make it visually interesting.
If you are using pictures, think creatively about what you can use to express who you are in an arresting way.
Dotting ‘I’s and crossing ‘T’s
Finally, check your grammar and punctuation – give it to someone else, check that it flows, and get a critical eye on it. Much of this is simply good comms writing – which is as important on an application form as it is when writing for the public.
The Positives: Your Fate is in Your Own Hands
The good news is that by using the techniques above, you can move away from feeling that your fundraising is at the mercy of outside forces, and instead create a pull factor with your clear vision and compelling pitch that draws funding in. It is in your power to design good projects, choose a funder who is a sound match and convince them of your worth. By putting effort and research into well thought out approaches, you will ultimately reap the benefits.