1. Check out the website first
It may seem obvious, but checking out a funders website will help to give you an idea of what they can fund, things that aren’t mentioned and when their funding deadlines might be. You can then plan that phone call to ensure your ringing them at the best possible time. Happiness
2. Make a note of all the questions you want to ask
Jotting down a handful of questions before you call will help to keep the conversation on point, as well as help you to get all the information needed. Remember, there are no silly questions and if you’re unsure about something it’s always better to ask! Key questions to ask- when are your deadlines, what size grants do you give, what do you look for in an application, what’s the process to apply and how long does it take to get a decision, as well as can you give an example of a funded project?
3. Know your pitch
Funders are just as busy as you are. It’s unlikely they have the time to hear the history of how your organisation was set up, so please don’t start the conversation with a long description of your work over the last 10 years or more. They want to know what you do now, what project you have in mind, how much it might cost and why you are the best organisation to be delivering it. A simple statement such as we have 5 years’ experience, and are the only organisation to be operating in this area will be ample scene setting. Funders are rarely interested in projects that haven’t involved those it’s hoping to benefit. It could be a good opportunity to highlight why you think there is a need, and what the impact would be if it wasn’t funded?
Telling the funder every single detail may seem like a good idea, but is likely to put you and them off the point. A great conversation is a balanced conversation with listening and talking being 50/50 partners. Set the scene, tell them your project pitch, ask them your questions and then listen to their response. It’s ok if the funder asks questions you don’t like- it’s not personal, they are just airing their concerns with the project which could help you to see a different perspective, mitigate risks and build a stronger project.
5. Make connections
Although a funder might not be able to fund you, they may know of an organisation that can or signpost you to an organisation that could help. Always round off the conversation with – do you have any final tips or other contacts you think I should speak too?
For funding advice on your project in Wales call us on 0300 123 0735, for advice on a project outside of Wales call us on 0345 4 10 20 30. Text relay: 18001 plus 0345 4 10 20 30 (for those with a hearing or speech impairment).
For general funding advice in Wales, contact your local voluntary council, details of which can be found by visiting the WCVA website.