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How to get funding for your project

A guide is for not-for-profit organisations, such as community clubs, faith groups and schools, that want to find and secure funding for activities and projects.

Before you apply

Plan your project

Before you start looking for funding, you need a clear project outline.

Any potential funder will need to see evidence that your project:

  • responds directly to identified needs

  • has been developed in consultation with potential service users, especially if it relates to children and young people

  • has clear goals that you will be able to prove you have achieved by the end of the project

  • will provide good value for money

  • will be effective and sustainable.

Start by writing a brief outline of one or two paragraphs, making sure you cover these points.

Include a rough budget to help you when you come to decide which funders will be most appropriate for you.

Find your ideal funders

It is important to find the right funder for your particular project.

When you are considering different sources of funding, ask yourself these questions:

  • What kind of organisations do they fund?

  • What types of project will they support?

  • Which costs will they cover?

  • Do the application procedures fit in with your timescale?

  • Will they offer extra support such as training, advice and capacity building?

You should only consider contacting funders whose criteria match your project exactly.

Many funders will only consider supporting new projects, although some will fund an existing project if you can show that you plan to develop it in an innovative way.

Make sure you check this kind of detail with a potential funder before making an application.

How to find potential funders

A good resource for fundraisers is Funding Central a powerful online database of current funding opportunities.

Find more information on community events and funding on the Lewisham Local website.

VAL can also help if you have any other queries about developing your not-for-profit organisation.

Contact your potential funders

You should always contact a funder before you make an application, for two reasons:

Make sure you're up to date

Funding streams come to an end, and new opportunities open up. You should always call to make sure the fund you are applying for still exists, and that the criteria have not changed.

Make links and get advice

Most funders prefer you to contact them to discuss your idea before you apply, to make sure they get stronger applications.

Make sure you have a clear project outline and some idea of your budget.

These conversations will give you a fresh perspective on your project outline, and may well give you ideas for improving it.


By this stage, you should have:

  • a project outline

  • a rough budget

  • a list of funding bodies (with named contacts) that you know will be interested in supporting your project.

To make sure your application is as effective as possible, follow these steps:

  • read and follow the funder's instructions carefully. If you are not sure about any of the requirements, ask for clarification

  • ask for a specific sum of money and explain exactly how it will be spent

  • if applying by application form, make sure you cover every section.

If applying by letter, aim to write about two pages. Make sure you include information on:

  • the need your project will meet, whom it will help and how

  • the outcomes of your project (make sure these are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based)

  • how you will measure the success of your project once it is completed.

  • your budget

  • any existing funding or support you receive

  • anything else the funder has asked you to mention or supply.

Avoid overloading your application with attachments you have not been asked for. A funder who is seriously interested will ask if it requires further information.

If you don't get funding

Ask for feedback. Understanding where your application could have been stronger will improve your chances in the future.

Remember that funders tend to receive far more applications for funding than they have funds available.

If your application is successful

Acknowledge the offer of funding

Thank the funder and make arrangements to meet any conditions that may be attached.

This may seem obvious, but many organisations fail to do so!

Keep in regular touch with your funder

You will greatly improve your chances of receiving further funding in the future if you build a strong relationship and demonstrate reliability.

Let your funder know if there are any problems.

The funder may be able to help you with connections to other funders, variations in the funding they offer you, or advice and support.

Useful websites

You may also be interested in...

Funding from trusts, foundations and public sector bodies

Find out about the different organisations that offer funding, or can help you get access to it.