What to say about your methods
Funders need to have confidence that you have thought through how you will achieve what you want to do. They often worry that groups are well-meaning but won't be able to actually deliver. So you need to demonstrate that you have a credible plan for using the money.
Help and guidance
Individual people may give money for a 'good cause' without worrying too much about exactly how it will be used. But organisations essentially give grants to projects or specific bits of work rather than just to support a cause. This means that you need to do a certain amount of planning in advance. The more money you want, the more planning you'll need to do, and the more information (and probably paperwork) you'll need to provide. No pain, no gain.
Think carefully about the level of planning that is appropriate for your situation. For instance, a small organisation looking for a few hundred pounds to buy some capital equipment may need to do no more than get a few quotes for the equipment. The same organisation wanting to start employing staff for the first time, however, might well have to produce a business plan or '3 year plan' or strategic plan , along with detailed budgets, cash flow projections, job descriptions, person specifications and evidence that they have thought about their responsibilities as an employer as well as practical issues about where the employees will be based, how they will be paid and so on.
It all depends on the size of the grant you're looking for, your experience as an organisation, and the nature of the work you want to do. Risky or controversial approaches are likely to need more evidence of forward planning. As much as anything, planning is about the image you present. If you can demonstrate that the organisation as a whole has discussed the work and decided it's a priority and you've then bothered to work out the detail of a project, you appear serious. If you haven't, it may look like you've just concocted an application on the back of an envelope and aren't really committed to the project.
Tried and tested / controversial
Funders that are interested in 'innovative approaches' to problems are less likely to be interested in supporting something that has been tried and tested and shown to work. Whereas funders more interested in delivery of services may want to fund schemes where there is little risk. You need to consider the attitude of each funder. In some cases you may wish to stress that you are building on good practice elsewhere - and even appeal to civic pride (They've got one somewhere else, we should have one too) - whereas with other funders you will want to make the point that the proposed work is ground-breaking. Pick your funders to suit your project.
It's often quite hard to know what to say about the length of time it will take to achieve the results you want. Funders are notorious for liking short-term commitments. Some may fund for three years but few do more than that. On the other hand, you may know that you won't be able to demonstrate the difference your work has made until two or three years into the project. Don't be tempted to try and win funding by promising quick results. Don't hide the reality from funders! On the other hand, you do need to consider how to present the project.
One possible way of 'packaging' a long project is to break it up into 'phases'. You could ask for money for the 'development and evaluation phase' (or even a feasibility study first) and then for the 'full implementation phase'. Remember, you might get the money for different phases from different funders.
This information is reproduced with the kind permission of FunderFinder.