Top 10 grant tips

1. Sourcing

  • Specialist Consultancies – Private, third or public sector organisations that specialise in offering advice and supporting businesses (including finding and accessing funding) e.g. Landsker!
  • Farming Connect – http://www.menterabusnes.co.uk/ – various types of support offered by Welsh Government to Farmers
  • Internet Searches – Usually each fund/grant body will have its own website which can be found via search engines
  • Local authorities – http://www. www.pembrokeshire.gov.uk Always check availability!
  • Business Wales – For private and third sector organisations. Contact details http://business.wales.gov.uk/ or call 03000603000
  • Grant Finder – If you are a third sector then contact your County Voluntary Council e.g. CAVS/PAVS/CAVO/SCVS etc (go to http://cvsc.org.uk/ for a full list and contact details)

2. Check the eligibility

  • Read the guidance notes in detail
  • Ring the grant officers
  • Consider the bid timescales and turnaround timescales;
  • Is it a staged process (ie (1) EOI, (2) invite to formal bid etc)
  • Be Honest with yourself and them!

3. Understand the limitations

  • Grants aren’t free in terms of time or tax
  • Are there restrictions on what you can do?
  • What will the grant conditions ‘require you to do’?
  • You still have to ‘match fund’ the rest

4. Does the grant fit your strategy

  • Are you changing your business strategy to fit the grant?
  • Make sure your grant fits your strategy; do not fit your project to access the grant!
  • Consider – Is the amount you will get worth the hassle, and later consequences?

5. What outputs are required by the grant body

  • Read the Guidance Notes and wider grant body literature
  • Give tangible future (and historic) outputs/results
  • What’s your Unique Selling Point (USP) (in grant terms) i.e. why does your “bid” stand out (avoid displacement)

Remember: Grant bodies care about what you can do for their output targets and not necessarily about what you do! Therefore make sure you write the application in this way i.e. Answer the Question.

6. Demonstating the need for a grant

Carry out  research to “commercially” justify the project, e.g.

  • Do you work within a certain geographic area and why is what you do pertinent to this area?.
  • There is no one else providing this service locally (or at least local demand exceeds supply) i.e. avoid duplication and displacement.
  • An existing model is working well in other areas and you are looking to replicate this locally.
  • Remember, use tangible evidence where possible –use plain language and make a compelling case for support!
  • Don’t be afraid to be innovative – but be credible!

7. Produce realistic, positive, clear financial projections that:

  • Clearly shows the benefit of grant to your business
  • Demonstrates the need for grant (in financial terms)
  • Demonstrates future sustainability (as far as possible)
  • Shows match funding, if required (with proof)
  • Details the key financial assumptions/breakdown
  • Gives them what they need e.g. Cash Flow, P&L, Balance Sheet, Break even, Sensitivity Analysis for required timescale (3/5 yrs)

8. Reusing ‘old/previous’ business plans

Using previous applications is fine and timesaving but:

  • Re-read and make sure you tailor it to the current application – take great care when copying and pasting
  • Have you built financial templates so you can use them for multiple bids?
  • Reflect current market forces (eg STEEPLE analysis)
  • There is rarely a successful ending to ‘throwing a quick bid together’

9. Double check

Leave yourself time before submitting to:

  • Double check you are submitting everything that is required, i.e. in guidance notes or ‘checklist’ at end of application.
  • Proof read, i.e. are there spelling errors – spell/syntax check.
  • Get someone else, not close to the bid, to proof/sense read
  • Re-read the guidance notes/required outputs. Have you answered the questions?! A final detailed read through is invaluable.
  • Keep a copy of everything you submit; get an acknowledgement of submission before any “deadlines”

10. Get Feedback

  • It is important to get detailed feedback whether you get the grant or not; especially important “to learn” if you are not successful.
  • Be persistent in insisting on feedback if you are not awarded grant (1st oral = informal, 2nd written = formal, 3rd Freedom of Information Act = formal and final!)
  • Getting feedback is easier if you already have a relationship with the grant body i.e. you have already spoken with them as suggested in Tip 2!!
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