Whether you’re writing a grant application or a fundraising proposal, a human being will read your writing, not a machine.
As well as decent content and a strong case for funding, your applications should be filled with inspiring and engaging copy too. Good writing helps your reader understand what you’re trying to achieve and begin to believe in you and what you do.
Remember, there’s no rule against tugging on a grant-maker’s heart strings.
Here are a few writing tips to make your fundraising bids sparkle:
Get the basics right
You can write like James Joyce but if the content the funder has asked for isn’t there you won’t have much of a chance. Make sure you’ve done your sums, answered all the questions and have evidence of what you can achieve.
Adopt their language and approach
Don’t force your funder to play hide-and-seek with the information they need. Answer their questions and provide the information in exactly the same order they’ve requested it, using the same headlines. Repeat their language back to them. If they talk about “outcomes”, then you should talk about “outcomes”.
Identify their needs
Spend some time identifying the funder’s needs – what are they really looking for? What are the aims of their organisation? Once you’re clear, say how your project will help them to meet those needs and aims. And then tell them how you will add value: what makes you different? What are you offering that is over and above what they’re asking for? Why can only your organisation provide that?
Start where the action is
Most fundraising applications begin with boring background about your organisation, when it was founded and what the management structure is. There’s a place for that but, if you have the opportunity, begin by writing about your impact and achievement. Talk about WHAT you achieve, before you talk about HOW you do it.
Write about benefits and outcomes
For every feature of your project and service (open 24 hours, qualified councillors, one-to-one sessions) write a benefit or outcome. What is the result of what you do? (Runaways get lifesaving support when they most need it, people with mental health difficulties quickly feel at ease talking to someone they can trust). Your methods are important in a fundraising application, but your reader is interested in the results too.
Add a human element
People like to read about people, so always include at least one case study and a number of quotes or testimonials from service users, other funders and supporters that add weight to your fundraising case. Try to use quotes that talk about the difference the organisation has been able to make. Back up the anecdotes with statistics and proof. Make your reader think: if they can achieve that change for one person, they could do so much more if they had my funding.
Pepper your application with statistics, evidence, testimonials, awards and other official recognition that shows you know what you’re doing, and can achieve the outcomes you claim. The more detail you can provide, including the full names and titles of those who offer you testimonials, the better.
Cut the jargon
Have someone not involved in your organisation or project read your application and highlight anything they don’t understand. You need to rewrite every piece of jargon, looking out for things which you use in your charity every day, but which won’t resonate with anyone outside of your organisation.
Could I help you create a great fundraising bid? Contact me now.