First steps to successful grant fundraising

Plans to refurbish the sports hall, improve leisure facilities, invest in new IT or extend premises? Rachel Gordon, funding consultant and head of the School Funding Service, offers some simple and sage advice on fundraising

If you are new to fundraising or want to start a new campaign, you might be wondering where to start. Here are five essential first steps to give yourself the best chance of success from your efforts.

  1. Define what you want to achieve

    From the very start, you need to define what difference you want to make as a result of your fundraising activity. What projects or activities will it enable you to do that you cannot do currently? How will individuals benefit? What difference will it make to their lives? A vision of future change will not only give you something to work towards but it will also provide a sound rationale for fundraising when communicating with supporters and funders alike.

  2. Set milestones

    Setting and monitoring milestones will help you to keep your fundraising activity on track. Milestones are key activities or tasks that help you to achieve your fundraising vision. They should have timescales so you can monitor your progress along the way. Milestones could include key activities such as shortlisting funders, planning a project, obtaining quotations for project costs or writing a draft bid proposal.

The most successful school fundraisers are those who are able to allocate time to grants’ research and bid writing on a regular basis

  1. Build a team around you

    The responsibility for grant fundraising is often given to, and carried out by, a single member of school staff. But fundraising encompasses a broad range of tasks, from project design and development, to research and writing. To help you, it is a good idea to identify any skills and knowledge gaps you may have and include people in your team who best fit those needs. Be clear about the responsibilities of each team member. Schedule regular meetings to keep you focused and working together.

  2. Commit your time

    Grant fundraising and bid writing in a school environment can be very tricky, with many other priorities competing for your time. The most successful school fundraisers are those who are able to allocate time to grants’ research and bid writing on a regular basis. You should aim for at least a couple of hours a week. Ideally, this should be spent away from your desk, office or classroom to minimise interruptions.

  3. Keep a diary

    Use it to keep note of your fundraising activities, conversations you have, decisions you make and reasons for any changes along the way. It will act as a handy reminder of the process you have gone through and how other people have shaped or influenced your progress. Funders will often ask about this, especially when it is related to project design and development.

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