Why applications Fail

Below are the main reasons why applications fail and some suggestions to help your application avoid the bin!

  • Eligibility
    • Is your organisation eligible? Check things like:
    • Status
      • Non-charity – many funders only fund charities
      • The may excluded specific group such as Umbrella bodies or only fund National / Local groups
    • Powers and activities
      • Check your constitution that you can apply
    • Previous applications; when did you last apply to them, many funders have a time limit in which you cannot reapply
  • Criteria
    • Ensure you meet their criteria
    • Explain clearly how you meet their criteria
    • Check they have not changed; many trusts change their criteria so check they have not changed especially if you have applied before
    • Check exclusions! These can included very specific activities, so double check, this can also include certain type of expenditure (capital / revenue)


  • Clarity
    • Avoid jargon and technical language
    • Be clear and transparent about what you want to do and how you will spend the money
    • You know what you do, but they don’t


  • Demonstrate Need
    • Bids should benefit people not organisations
    • Use statistics and hard facts such as Census data, WIMD, Powys i
    • Community involvement in planning; you need to demonstrate that the project is wanted by those it is aimed at, and not that it is what you think they will want
      • Surveys, and examples of beneficiary involvement


  • Planning
    • Ensure project is thought through
    • Who will manage staff/volunteers/budget
      • Are policies for staff in place, CRB checks





  • Form Filling
    • Not all applications will require an application form but where they do make sure that you use them!
    • Answer all the questions (Unless they are optional), read the guidelines for pointers on what information they want your answer to contain
    • Use of ‘see attached’ – some forms allow this others don’t. Be careful how much information you include, ensure you keep answers concise and to the point.
    • Send all the information requested


  • Timing
    • Retrospective funding – hardly any funders will fund this, and never pretend you have not incurred the cost yet
    • Expect to wait at least 3 months to get a response, some boards only meet twice a year
    • Don’t miss the deadline and try to get the application in early
    • Allow time to spend the money, as most funders will want the money spent in a set period of time, this can be as little as three months.


  • Costs
    • Ensure figures are realistic and that you can justify the costs
    • Are you value for money; but don’t cut corners in budgets
    • Make sure you have the capacity to deliver the project
    • Are you providing any match funding or volunteer time


  • Outputs
    • What will change as a result of the funding, how will people benefit, what difference will it make the someone’s life
    • How will you measure the change
    • Monitoring, evaluation and reporting (who will you tell about the work)


  • Sustainability
    • How will the project continue when the funding ends
    • How will any capital goods be maintained


A few final pointers:

  • Check the Charity Commission website to find out about the Trust you are applying to, have a look at their accounts to see who they fund and the size of past grants
  • Ask someone from outside the organisation to read the application through to ensure it makes sense to someone not involved with your work
  • Consider what makes your application more worthy than the next one
  • Be passionate and persuasive in your application

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