5 tips for making a winning grant application

Rachel Gordon

Rachel Gordon heads up the School Funding Service, which helps schools across the UK win grants for a wide range of projects, from playgrounds and sports equipment, to after-school clubs and extended services. She writes bids for schools and advises them on how to maximise their funding potential.

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Schools want to offer the very best in education to their students, but funding is so often an issue. Rachel Gordon of The School Funding Service gives her 5 top tips on how to go about getting a grant for your school.

You have a great idea for a school project or innovative new practice, but the school budget is tight and you need a bit of cash to help you bring your idea to life. Does this scenario sound familiar? If so, my advice is don’t despair. Have you thought about applying for a grant to help you?

Where to look:

There are hundreds of grants available to schools in the UK. They are typically awarded by grant-making trusts and foundations or company giving programmes and they are available for a wide range of projects. You can find grants for literacy and the arts, science and technology, sports, school trips, professional development... the list goes on.

How to start:

The competition for grant funding can be very high. Firstly, you need to find a grant which is right for you. Always read the guidance notes provided by the funder and familiarise yourself with projects they have previously funded. This will help you to assess your idea’s eligibility for funding. Does it meet the criteria?

Secondly, once you have found the perfect grant match, you need to make a strong, reasoned and evidenced case for support. How can you make your application stand out from the crowd? This is how to do it.

1. Describe your approach

You need to tell the funder what exactly you are going to do with their money. A winning application is one packed full of detail. It shows that you have undertaken thorough planning of your project.

2. Define a problem

There has to be a purpose to what you want to do. One of the easiest ways in which to effectively articulate purpose is to define a problem. What problem will you address and help to overcome? Why does it matter? Remember to talk specifically about your case, not generally.

3. Provide evidence

This is all about backing up the statements you make with research. How do you know the problem exists? How do you know your approach is the right one? You could use independent reports or statistics, carry out your own questionnaire or seek case studies or testimonials from people who are going to benefit from your work.

4. Talk about people

It is important to remember that grants are given to make a difference to people’s lives and not simply to buy equipment or pay for training. So you need to talk about that difference. How will people benefit from your work? How will you measure your success?

5. Add value

It is very rare that grants are awarded to activities that you are doing already or have a statutory responsibility to provide. So don’t forget to highlight the ways in which your idea is innovative and supplementary to the normal school day. If relevant, you may want to talk about how you will maximise the number of people you reach or how you will sustain your project in the future. This will help the funder assess the potential impact of your project and what difference the grant can make.

Has your school ever applied for a grant? Let us know how it went below.

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