Whether you are a Business Owner, Economic Development Professional, or representing a Non Profit Organization, you are likely to come across an opportunity to apply for funding. While there are many programs available, finding one to fit within your organization or business can be a challenge. Often, the programs are built with strict eligibility requirements, a limited window of time to apply and can be extremely broad in nature, leaving the project scope wide open. To be successful when it comes to accessing funding it is beneficial to come up with creative, unique concepts that you can build around the funding application.
To help you navigate the muddy waters of funding applications, the following tips may prove useful.
- Identify a variety of programs that your organization can apply to. For instance, if the criteria states that it is only for non-profit organizations, a small business owner cannot select this program.
- Read through the guidelines and pay careful attention to application deadlines, eligible costs, program start/end dates and percentage of funding accessible (i.e. 50%, 90%, 100% of eligible costs). These factors will contribute to how you develop your project scope.
- Determine a project or activity that you can coordinate with the available resources you have on hand that will complement both the funding eligibility and your organizational goals. Find ways you can showcase other initiatives you have on the go to get added exposure/value for the entire organization.
- Contact the funding representative and ask them if they can meet with you to discuss your proposed idea. Involve them in your concept early on and ask them for their feedback on how to best shape the project.
- Look into how the funding is disbursed to ensure that you have the ability to carry the expenses if the money is only paid with proof of purchase. Sometimes funders are willing to offer advances so be sure to look into this option should you be approved for funding.
- When writing funding applications pay careful attention to the questions being asked and how your answers relate to the deliverables of the funding agency. For instance, if the purpose of the fund is to foster community development, ensure that your answers demonstrate how your program will be able to accomplish this.
- Do not assume that the funders know anything about your organization when preparing your application. While you may feel comfortable with the knowledge your local funding representative has about your group and the program, this does not mean that the decision makers will. Keep in mind that often a committee of people makes the funding decisions.
- Communicate your message in each response clearly and consistently. Always provide reasons and backup for each of your points.
- There are times when having multiple funders involved in your project can be beneficial. For instance, if you are proposing a project to a funder at the federal government and you have provincial support committed to the project be sure to leverage this relationship in your application.
- If approved for your project, carry out the deliverables the way you said you would when it comes time for you to implement. If you need to make a change to your project mid way through, communicate with your funding representative before doing anything. The last thing you want to do is jeopardize your funding because you did not allocate your resources according to your plan or accomplish the deliverables you set out to reach. A mistake like this can cost you from ever being able to apply for funding through that agency again.
Funding agencies have dedicated representatives who are committed to helping applicants prepare applications that complement the funding program. Use this resource as it can go a long way in helping you access the funds you need to develop to run a successful project.
Contact us if you have questions about how your business can access funding.