How to write the perfect application

Social Investment Business

Applying for anything can be a daunting task. Thankfully, our grant gurus realise this and want to make submitting an application as smooth as possible.

To be honest there is no such thing as the perfect application. Charities and social enterprises face such a broad range of circumstances that pinpointing a one-fits-all example is impossible.

However, before you get too smug with your own plans to take your project to the moon (metaphorically, I should hasten to add), here are some tips to put your application a step above the rest.


1. Answer the question

As obvious as it sounds you would be surprised how many applications fail to do this properly.

Whether it’s vague answers, irrelevant details or missing information on important activities, a poorly answered question can turn a promising proposal into an assessor’s worst nightmare.

A frequent issue is the failure to align the financial summary with financial history. If you can’t answer a question because you don’t have the historic information, you need to say why. Looking evasive is to be avoided.

It is also important for the investment plan to match the milestones and the budget. This correlation is omitted all too often.

Reread the question and always have it in the back of your head that answers should demonstrate the need and demand for your proposed project.


2. Keep it simple

Demonstrating mastery of your sector by including jargon can appear impressive but it often leaves our grant assessors scratching their heads.

Don’t let terminology terminate your application. Use simple language and spell out acronyms the first time you use them.

And remember, there is a character limit on the application sections for a reason.


3. Talk to investors beforehand

We have all seen Dragon’s Den. Different investors cater to different needs and the same is true in the social investment sector.

Failing to research if your initiative is attractive to investors beforehand can lead to problems. If they don’t like it, then you need to consider why this is before you continue your application for an ‘investment-readiness’ programme like Big Potential.

Investigate whether investors have funded any initiatives like yours before. You should really have a basic idea which investors you would like to approach before you submit your application.


4. Don’t rush

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit” is an age old saying. It probably isn’t one that comes to mind as you complete your application on a laptop late into the evening.

If that situation sounds all too real, be sure to take a break. The application process was not designed to be completed in one go. Look at your application with a fresh pair of eyes the day after finishing a section.

If you can - ask your colleagues to share the load. Use their expertise to make sure each section is as good as it can be.


5. Backup what you are saying

Just saying you work in a deprived area is not going to cut it. We need to know more.

Use different kinds of information to tell your story. Anecdotal stories (qualitative) can paint vivid pictures of what your organisation does, while numbers (quantitative) will give your application the credibility it needs to succeed.

This is your opportunity to explain how and why your organisation is successful, and why it needs support from Big Potential to do even more.


And finally…

If you get stuck along the way the Big Potential website has resources to help. The programme guidance and repeating the diagnostic tool can provide great insight into the process. And we’re on the end of the phone if you need to get in touch. Good luck!