Asking organisations, businesses, government departments or individuals for money so that you make your incredible project a reality, can be an art in itself. Here are a few issues to keep in mind while you work on your funding proposal:
- “Keep it simple”: Your title must be short and snappy, your Aim no longer than one sentence, your Objective no more than four sentences. Give essential information – cut back on superlatives, waffle and spin. Don’t forget to give your full contact details… Remember that your funders are busy people who would like to see at a glance what you want, and why. (Basically: we need your money for what, presented how, happening when and where, to benefit who…)
- “Pretty, Pretty Please!”: A small, concise, glossy, full-colour, well-bound proposal is an object of beauty – seduction is the name of your game. (Delivered personally into the hands of your funder with a smile, a firm handshake and NO spelling mistakes. Followed up a week later with a discreet phone call, polite email or subtle query)
- “Stalking your Prey”: Pursue your ten most likely funding partners with intelligence and perseverance, research their past social-benefit projects and call up past recipients for some hunting tips. Don’t throw your pretty pearl of a proposal at an unlikely partner. (Tailor the proposal to suit the patron: they like kids – you like kids, they support the environment – so do you, they go for glitz – you boost the bling)
- “The Devil’s in the Detail”: Check and double-check your budget for realistic prices, backed up with quotations, check and double-check your dates, venues and logistics, check and double-check your partners and participants.
- Don’t lie. (The humiliation involved in going back to your sponsors to say “I know we said in the proposal that Beyoncé would open for us, but…” should – and will – destroy your credibility for ever)
- “Bang-for-their-Buck”: No-one gives money for nothing. They will expect their logos, banners, smiley faces and generosity towards the arts to be plastered across your event, your marketing materials, and your press releases. (So if you don’t want a tooth-paste ad on your pamphlet, don’t ask them for money)
- “Please, sir, may I have some more...?”: If your project was fabulous and you want it to blossom and grow, you have to keep your funders more than happy. Give them a detailed report on how you spent their money. (Filled to capacity with press clippings with their name in bright lights, audience numbers, receipts of money spent, letters of appreciation from cute kids and your honest evaluation of the project – with notes on intended improvements)