1. A Vision for the Future – having a clear vision about what you want to do that external funders can understand;

2. Say it with a Plan – building on your clear vision, you need a plan to show what you are going to do and how you are going to do it;

3. What are your USPs (Unique Selling Points)? – what are the key features of your project that it make it interesting to a funder and necessary in tackling local issues;

4. Creating Credibility – if you are a new organisation, you will need a constitution to show how your work will be governed and managed, so that a funder can assess your accountability;

5.A Blast from the Past – if you have received support from a particular funder in the past, you can mention this when applying and show how you spent the money well;

6. Sustainability – some funders are keen to know how your project will continue after their funding has run out or where else you might apply for support;

7. Finding out who gives what and why – most funders have specific criteria and priorities, so you need to be aware of these before applying by looking up other fundraising resources and directories;

8. Ask Somebody That Knows – your local authority or voluntary sector support agency (sometimes known as a CVS) can provide you with advice on fundraising;

9. Seek the Line of Least Resistance – it can be tempting to drastically change your project in line with the criteria of funders, but you will need to keep focus on your core aims;

10. Is your Project ‘Healthy’? – most funders will be clear about what information they want from applicants, such as accounts and policies, so you will need to assess your plan to see if it meets the requirements;

11. Shortlist the Most Likely Sources – the more funders you apply to, the lower quality your applications will be, so it’s better to focus on a few relevant funders;

12. Getting Your Facts Right – use local resources and funding directories to find out the most up-to-date information about funders;

13. Don’t Put All Your Eggs into One Basket – you don’t need to wait until you receive a decision from a funder before applying elsewhere, so do explore as many relevant options as possible;

14. Talk to the Funder – some funders are happy to speak to projects before they apply to clarify their criteria and you can also invite them to upcoming events;

15. Writing Winning Letters – funders receive more requests than they can support, so you need to be concise and clear about what you want to do;

16. Ask a Third Party – ask a local friend or partner organisation to read the application before you submit, as they can provide useful feedback;

17. Phew! That’s It Gone in the Post – keep a copy of the application and information you send, in case the funder asks for further information;

18. Use Failure as a Positive Learning Tool – funding rejections can come through no fault of your own, so do try and ask for feedback if possible;

19. Getting Your Timing Right – some funders have deadlines or take some time to make a decision, so do incorporate this into your project planning;

20. They Think It’s All Over – try and avoid leaving fundraising to the last minute, as this can cause unnecessary stress.

Find more detail on these 20 steps.

Find more information on how to apply for funding.

Storytelling in fundraising can be as important as having detailed project plans and budgets – it can be the most effective project in the world, but it won’t get support if funders can’t understand what you’re saying. Read more about telling your story through fundraising applications.