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8 Steps to Writing a Charity Tender

8 Steps to writing a charity tender featured image
Writing a tender is a difficult process. Image credit: Scott Graham

One of the biggest challenges for any third sector organisation is writing charity tenders. Tendering is a complex process, with high stakes for your organisation. Mastering the tendering process is one of the best ways to secure long term funding for any charity.

However, most professionals don’t go into the third sector to do paperwork. Instead, if you run a charity or a non-profit, your main concern is probably promoting your particular cause. Securing funding through tenders is only a means to this end.

To help make this process easier, we’ve compiled this step by step guide to writing successful charity tenders.

1. Build a Backlog of Resources for Tenders

Completing a tender is a lengthy process. Each funding body has its own tendering requirements and processes, meaning that writing individual funding applications is often an involved process.

Still, there are steps you can take to make this easier.

One thing to keep in mind is that, although tenders can vary, the facts about your organisation don’t change. While you’ll still need to tailor some information for specific tenders, there is plenty that you can reuse over and over again.

At the very minimum, you should have the following information on hand to insert into charity tenders:

  • Your organisation’s background, mission statement, and history,

  • Case studies,

  • Statistics,

  • Testimonials,

  • Information about internal processes, staffing and resources.

Organising these resources into a proper document library will greatly reduce the workload of responding to tenders.

2. Do Your Homework

Many funders make huge efforts to communicate exactly what they’re looking for before the process begins. This includes hosting pre-bid meetings, events and consultations, aimed at helping you meet their criteria fully.

Attending these is a no-brainer, as it will give you a competitive advantage over other organisations which are bidding for the same funding.

Additionally, attending these kinds of events will help you to identify which tenders are worth applying for in the first place. In some cases, you might find that completing a tender is not worth your time, after hearing the requirements more fully.

Of course, with many large funders, it can be difficult to get additional information, beyond what’s included in the formal call for bids. For example, government agencies have very strict rules here.

In this case, your best option is to engage with a fundraising consultant who has experience of writing successful charity tenders for these organisations.

UK charity tender stats
Around 10% of government tenders in the UK only receive one bid. Image credit: The Economist

3. Demonstrate Your Mission

A huge part of the tender process is simply standing out. When reviewing tenders, funders read bids from countless organisations just like yours. Making a strong impression is key for convincing readers that you deserve funding.

One way to do this is to clearly present your mission.

This relates to the core issue which you want to address, and how you go about this. Specifically, your mission statement should clearly communicate:

  • What you do,

  • How you do it,

  • Who benefits,

  • Why this matters,

  • When your services apply.

As well as including this information in your introductions and executive summaries, you should refer back to your core mission when answering all other questions included in charity tenders.

4. Fully Complete the Charity Tender

This might seem obvious, but an incredible number of charity tenders fail because they haven’t been filled in correctly. Of course, this hardly inspires confidence in the applicant’s ability to deliver projects.

The rubric of tenders can often be complex, with specific requirements buried in complicated language. As such, it’s important to go through your application with a fine tooth comb to ensure you’ve met all of these criteria.

It’s also generally a good idea to get a fresh pair of eyes to check over your work. This could either be a colleague, or an external funding consultant.

5. Provide Proof of Outcomes

One of the biggest challenges facing any charity is proving that they can offer concrete results and return on investment. The tricky part is that it can be difficult to quantify the impact of your work in monetary terms.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what funders want.

This is where your resources from earlier come in handy. The more case studies, statistics and other evidence of your success you can draw on, the more compelling your charity tenders will be.

When you have a strong backlog of different success stories, you’ll also be in a better position to tailor them towards each funder. You might select the most appropriate evidence, based on:

  • The size of funding,

  • The nature of the project,

  • The goals of the funding organisation.

Charity tender stats on graph paper.
Quantifying and proving your outcomes is critical. Image credit: Isaac Smith

6. Align Your Strategy with the Funder’s Goals

It’s also important to demonstrate an understanding of your funder’s core goals, and how your project will align with these. On the one hand, this demonstrates your experience and commitment to this mission.

On the other, it simply shows that you have taken the time to properly understand the goals of the tender before drafting your application.

Many organisations submit as many charity tenders as they can, with little regard for their suitability. Showing that your mission aligns with that of the funder helps you to stand out from these competitors.

7. Demonstrate Stakeholder Engagement

Your charity tenders will also benefit if you can show that you’ve engaged with stakeholders. Most important here are the actual service users. After all, the people who’ll actually use your services are the top priority.

You have two challenges here.

The first is researching the needs and wants of your stakeholders. However, you should naturally have taken account of this when you were designing your charity services in the first place.

The next is demonstrating this to funders. Specifically, you should have evidence of:

  • Who you engaged,

  • Why they are representative,

  • What they said,

  • How this informs your approach to delivering services.

8. Show Off Your Competence and Strategic Experience

Finally, one of the biggest challenges of any charity tender is demonstrating your ability to deliver on time and on budget. One key element of this is giving a credible overview of the lifetime costs of your project.

Rather than simply using the headline figure of the upfront cost, the funder wants to know how much it will actually cost to run and maintain your services in the long term.

Of course, the best way to achieve this is to draw on your track record of delivering charity projects competently.

S3 Solutions are experts in all areas of securing funding for charities, nonprofits and third sector organisations. To find out more about how we can help you with charity tenders, speak to our team today.


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