Ten top tips on applying for funding

You’ve got a brilliant idea. You think you’ve found the perfect funding scheme. Your application gets rejected! What went wrong?

Based on reading a lot of applications to various funding schemes in the last few months, here are my ten top tips, in no particular order:

  1. Read all the guidelines and documentation. Have you read all the documents provided? Have you answered all the questions?
  2. Meet the deadline. Many funders won’t accept applications after the published deadline – for any reason! If you’re not sure of the deadline, then contact the administrators. If you really can’t get the application in on time, then ask what leeway there is, but don’t be surprised if there isn’t any.
  3. Answer the question! Think what the selection panel want to know. Be specific, don’t waffle.
  4. Use the word limit as a guide. If the word limit is 500 words, then two sentences isn’t enough information!
  5. Demonstrate commitment from others. Could you include a letter of support? Can you demonstrate a commitment of additional funding from elsewhere if you get the award you’re applying for? If you say, “If I get this money I will talk to…,” it begs the obvious question as to why you haven’t already talked to them.
  6. Talk to the people running the scheme. Make sure you are eligible, ask for clarification about anything you don’t understand. Save yourself from spending a lot of time writing an application that won’t even be considered!
  7. Don’t make assumptions! Explain any acronyms you use. In fact, don’t use acronyms unless you have to! Be really clear about what you are going to do. It’s unlikely the people reading your application will have huge amounts of time to devote to each application.
  8. Get someone not involved in your application to read it! At the very least, they will pick up on typos. Even better, they will be able to tell you where your answers don’t make sense or need more detail.
  9. Be realistic with your costs. Don’t just ask for the maximum amount available (unless that’s really what you need).
  10. Provide a clear budget. Present the information really clearly. A simple table is always a good idea. If possible indicate your working but don’t confuse things with too much detail. Make sure it adds up! Then check it again and get someone else to check it! An error might result in your whole application being rejected. If you can’t add up (the panel might think), what chance have you got of delivering a high quality project, on time!

If you do all these things, you’re giving yourself a great chance of getting funding. I wish you all the best for your next application.

Tweet your comments, or suggest other tips, using #fundingtips @naje99

Dr Nigel Eady
Head of Researcher Training & Development
King’s College London