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How to Write a Proposal for Charity Funding

How to write a proposal for charity funding featured image
All kinds of third sector organisations need to write funding proposals. Image credit: Glenn Carstens-Peters

Knowing how to write a proposal for charity funding is one of the most important skills for any third sector professional. Securing funding is one of the greatest challenges any charity faces, and can determine whether it thrives or fails.

This is made even more difficult by the fact that many charities are competing for funding from different organisations. In other words, your challenge is to convince funders that your organisation is the most deserving of support.

Of course, there are a number of ways to achieve this, especially since different funders have different priorities.

With that in mind, here is our advice for how to write a proposal for charity funding.

Understand Your Audience

The first thing to understand is who your reader is, and how this will shape your proposal. For example, if you’re writing a proposal for a government grant, you’ll need to take a very different approach than you would with a private backer.

Of course, one important thing to consider is the formal requirements of your proposal.

This can include:

  • How your proposal should be formatted,

  • What information your proposal should include,

  • Which accompanying documents and evidence you should provide,

  • How long your proposal should be,

  • When and how you should submit your proposal.

This stage is absolutely critical, as many funders will simply throw out your proposal if they don’t meet their requirements.

If you are having trouble finding support for your charity, you might want to speak to a professional funding consultant.

How Will Your Project Benefit the Funder?

Next, you should have a clear idea of how your goals align with that of the funder. In other words, how will providing you with funding actually benefit the funder? Demonstrating mutual benefit is key here.

So what’s in it for the funder?

This will take a little bit of research to nail down. Specifically, you should have a clear picture of:

  • The core problem the funder wants to address,

  • Who will benefit from solving this problem,

  • What kind of projects they support to solve this problem,

  • Where they operate,

  • What other challenges the funding organisation faces.

It’s also worth considering the nature of the funding body, as this will impact how you can communicate mutual interest.

For example, if you’re wondering how to write a proposal for charity funding from a major trust, the key thing will be their own mission, in terms of the specific societal impact they want to have.

It’s a different story if you're bidding for funding from private companies. Many companies offer charitable funding as part of their corporate social responsibility strategy. Essentially, this means supporting causes as part of their PR efforts.

Here, the key is to highlight how your projects can help in this effort, especially if the funder’s customers are passionate about your cause.

Charity proposal CSR stats
Companies give to charities for a number of different reasons. Image credit: Grant Thornton

How to Write a Proposal for Charity Funding: Structure

When it comes time to actually put pen to paper, it’s crucial that you use an appropriate structure for your charity funding proposal. This allows you to present all of the relevant information in a clear and easily understood format.

Of course, some funding sources will outline their preferred structure and format. In this case, you should follow this to ensure the best chance of success for your funding proposal.

Others won’t provide instructions on how to structure your proposal, or they might not provide much detail. In this case, you can use the following structure, which includes the sections needed for any successful charity funding proposal:

  • Introduction - Including key information about your organisation and projects, as well as an overview of the proposal itself.

  • Problem Statement - An overview of the problem you’d like to address, including how this impacts society more widely, and how this relates to the funder’s core goals. This should include concrete facts and data to add credibility.

  • Outline of Your Solution - An explanation of how you will use funding to solve the problem you’ve identified. This should include an itemised outline of how you will spend the money, as well as case studies on how your services have achieved return on investment previously and any other evidence of your track record of delivering projects.

  • Timeline and Budget - A clear roadmap of which deliverables will be achieved and when, as well as more detailed information on how you will spend funding to meet these deliverables.

  • Conclusion - A summation of the points you’ve already covered in the previous sections.

Again, where a funder stipulates that they require a particular format, you should follow this. The above structure can be used to indicate the sections which should be included in your project otherwise.

Reader assessing charity funding proposal
It's important to use an appropriate structure for your charity funding proposal. Image credit: Van Tay Media

How to Add Credibility to Your Funding Proposal

Potential funders will also judge your proposal based on their perception of how able you are to deliver the project you’re proposing. Throughout your proposal, you’ll need to convince the reader of your credibility and competence.

There are a number of ways you can do this.

As we’ve mentioned already, using concrete evidence to back up your claims is one of the most effective ways to write a credible charity funding proposal. Funders want to know their money is being spent in the most effective way possible.

The key here is knowing how to measure social impact.

In other words, you should be able to quantify the exact impact that the funder’s backing will have in terms of societal change. For example, you might use case studies which outline the societal impact of similar projects, or other data linking your activities to credible outcomes.

As well as outcomes, you should also provide evidence of your ability to manage and spend funding. This means signposting your track record of delivering projects on time and within budget.

Similarly, the more practical detail you can give in terms of your budget and deliverables, the more confidence potential funders will have in your ability to spend their investment wisely.

S3 Solutions are experts at securing funding for charities from a range of sources. If you have any questions relating to how to write a proposal for charity funding, speak to our team today.