How to write a funding bid

If you’re applying for funding for your project then being faced with a blank form can be pretty daunting. It can feel like a test or a series of hoops to jump through and funders often use language which makes it more confusing.

How to write a funding bid

I’d like to suggest two different ways of thinking about it however, which I hope will help you when writing your bid.

The first is to imagine you are the funder. If someone applies to you for funding, what would you want to know? Every funder seems to ask slightly different things but in essence they all want to know the same things that you would: what do you want the money for? What is the project? Who is it for? How will I know the money has been well spent and managed? How do I know the project will be a success? 

Funders want to give money to make brilliant projects happen, that’s why they exist, they’re not testing you or hoping you’ll fail. All the form is doing is asking the questions that anyone would ask if they were giving money to someone else. Imagine they’re worried about what to do with the money and you can save the day by presenting them with a brilliant project.

This helps you understand the style you’ll be writing in- confident, specific and reassuring. Your job is to help the funder really understand your project, see how it’s going to work, how you’re going to spend the money and show them that it will be well managed and successful. 

The second approach which you can adopt alongside this, is to think of the funding bid form as a project planning tool. Often the questions seem challenging because you don’t know the answers yet, so although it might be tempting to blag it, use the opportunity to do some planning which will really help you deliver the project well.

Planning Activities

Map out the stages of the project in a table or use bullet points or a diagram. Work out the order that the main activities need to happen in and then summarise these in as few words as possible.

Write a short summary of your project (who, what, where, why, when). Make sure this keeps an overview and don’t clutter it with excessive detail about the practicalities e.g. funders want to know you will be working with an experienced hip-hop tutor but not that you’re going to have a 10 minute break for refreshments half an hour into the workshop . 

Ask someone who knows nothing about it to read it and explain the project back to you to ensure it’s clear. Even better, get them to interrogate you about the project and see what questions they come up with!

The following questions will help you plan different aspects of your project and be prepared to answer the questions that come up in a funding bid. Work through them and then you can use your notes to tackle the bid.

  • What is your project in one sentence? 

  • Why are you doing it? What is it to achieve, change or make better?

    • Funders might call this aims or objectives e.g. “to develop performance skills and build confidence”

  • What happens as a result of your project? 

    • Funders might call this outcomes e.g. “a greater number of young people visiting the gallery”

  • How are you going to deliver the project? 

    • e.g. “Six weekly workshops leading to a performance in the local library”

  • Who are you working with? 

    • Funders might ask about partners- what organisations can you work with to support you to deliver the project?

  • Who is your project for and how is it going to benefit those people? 

    • Funders may refer to these as beneficiaries

  • What makes your project exciting or different? 

  • How are you going to reach participants or audience? 

    • Think about traditional marketing methods and also face to face outreach

  • How will you measure the success of your project? 

    • Funders might call this evaluation

A lot of funders will have guidance documents where they explain what they’re looking for and how to apply. Make sure you read these through and, if you can, contact them for advice if any of the questions aren’t clear. 

If the funder has examples of previous projects on their website then this also is a good place to get an idea of the kind of things they fund so you can see if your project will suit them. 

If you’ve planned your project well and are committed to it then you’ll be able to be detailed about what you’re going to do but also communicate to the funder why your project is ideal for them to fund.

Good luck!

Header Image Credit: Pixabay


Christina Poulton

Christina Poulton

I’m a freelance arts project manager, trainer and theatre producer. I work with diverse individual artists and theatre companies to support the process of making a new show and get the show out on tour. I also work with arts organisations, to help them develop their work, focusing on fundraising, finance and setting up new projects. I deliver training in writing funding bids, arts project management, on getting to grips with finance and evaluation. I’m based in Gloucestershire but because of the wonders of the internet I work with people all over the country.

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