The application process varies dramatically between different grant-giving bodies. For some grants, an online form is all you need, whereas others require a multi-page bid document. The information requested depends on several criteria such as the size of the grant, the trust you're applying to and the expected number of applicants. If there's a bid-writing expert in your parent community or you can utilise the skills of the school's fundraising team, that's fantastic. If not, here's our rundown of everything you need to know to make your bid the best it can be.
Allow enough time
Many grants have application deadlines. The bid-writing process can be time-consuming, so leave enough time to get everything done. Allow extra time for re-reading, editing and sense-checking.
Include a short introduction about your school and PTA, noting the number of pupils, location and any relevant achievements that will help to show who you are.
Be thorough but focused
Describe your project in as much detail as possible while still being clear. Key questions to answer are:
- What is the project?
- When are you going to run it?
- Who will deliver the project?
- Who will it benefit, and what impact will this have?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
The information in your answers will prove to the funder that your planning is comprehensive. If there is an application form, it should guide you through the information you need to include.
Make your case
Explain to the reader how a grant will help you address a real problem or issue currently experienced by your pupils, families or the wider community: What is the problem, and how do you know it exists? How will your project solve the problem, and what difference will it make to people's lives? If your project will have a long-term impact, explain how.
Focusing on the negative side of the problem means the situation can seem hopeless and too risky, deeming it unlikely to be funded. Strike a balance by maintaining an achievable and optimistic outlook.
Any statements must be backed up with evidence, giving credibility and authority to your argument. Use statistics, survey results or some case studies from the people who will benefit. Involve potential beneficiaries by asking your school council to collect pupils' views, inviting parents to a consultation evening, or involving community groups. Explain how different stakeholders have shaped your decisions and will continue to be involved as the project develops.
Cover the mutual benefits
Each funder has its own charitable objectives and funding criteria. Do some research and explain how you will help meet them. Explain your common interests and demonstrate how you can work together.
Be sure to include financial details
For a robust application, it's essential to go into financial detail to reassure the funder that you've thought everything through. Provide a detailed project budget, show the breakdown of costs, and explain how you've come to these figures. If the total project cost is greater than the funding you're seeking, explain how you will fund the rest and, if relevant, how the PTA or school will sustain the project over the long term. Include details of any money secured so far and any pending or planned grant applications.
Once you've drafted your application, return to the requirements and evaluate your work against it, ensuring you've explained how you will meet each aspect. Get a second opinion from someone who has not been involved in the project development, asking them to keep the guidelines in mind.
- For more information on grants available to schools, and advice on bid-writing, visit FundEd
- 'Grants and a community appeal helped us hit our fundraising target'