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How to prepare a fundraising bid

17 August 2012

We have little experience of working on fund-raising bids to trusts and others, but we think we should prepare them ourselves rather than pay a fund-raiser. Do you have any pointers?

THE climate for raising funds is tough, and will remain so for several years. Possibly, it is not as bad as a couple of years ago, but I would say that it is stable rather than improved. The trusts themselves are receiving far more bids, and have far less money to hand out than in the past.

As always, bids are in competition with each other, and the best-prepared bids may obtain a grant. But, in some cases, for example the Big Lottery, there are so many good bids that being good is not enough.

All of this means that paying a fund-raiser to prepare bids will not guarantee success. You might, however, find someone who can read over your prepared bids, and make suggestions for improvement.

A small group can work together on the material, but you will need one person to write each bid, or complete one form, as it is almost impossible to write by committee. My suggestion is that one of you gets together the forms and guidelines, after researching possible grant-sources. You should run through the required information together - it varies from form to form - and share out the task of information collection, from user numbers to charity-registration number to church postcode.

On longer forms, you could bullet-point the larger sections, and the description you use for trusts. Collect together a number of signed copies of the church accounts.

On all bids and letters, your incumbent should be the signatory, and probably the main contact; non-church organisations often do not understand positions such as churchwarden.

Look out for the questions about beneficiaries, and outcomes. The evidence provided is vital to your bid's going into the possible-winners pile rather than the bin. The trust will want to know: how many people will benefit; what sort of people; how often; and for how long. Then you will need to identify the qualitative benefits that your project will deliver in people's lives.

Some information will be present in a list of all current users of your building or project, but you will need evidence about any increase. You cannot just speculate, however; you must ask people, and show that you have asked them. Also, include letters of support: those from local residents and local organisations are of more value than the bishop/ MP/councillor type.

Ensure that all members of your group, and your incumbent, are fully up to speed on your bids, so that some or all of you can meet any representative of a trust that is considering a grant - and still be giving a single clear message.

Factors that might cause your bids to fail are: if you seem to have enough money; if your project seems over-expensive as a way of delivering benefits; if it is not clear who will benefit and how; if your church has plenty of members and probably could raise the money without help.

Badly written bids - ungrammatical, misspelt, speaking the language of the church rather than the trust - have a harder time. Remember, too, that information such as the name of the church and the contact person must be clearly stated on your descriptive materials.

Finally, ensure that, with each bid, you show clearly how your bid meets the trust's funding objectives.


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