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7 steps to successful bid writing

Writing bids to secure funding or to deliver a piece of work  can be daunting, especially if it is your first time writing one or you have previously been unsuccessful.

Before writing your next bid or application look at the seven steps below and apply them to increase your likelihood of success.

1.  Attend any supporting events related to the bid

I cannot emphasize enough how useful it is to attend any pre-bid meetings and events designed to assist you in writing the bid. Who better to tell you what should be featured and how to increase success than the funders themselves. It can also help you decide if it‘s the right bid for you and, if so, your chances of securing any of it. Many projects fail to attend and miss the key elements that would have secured the bid or at least create a conversation that means the funders already know who you are before you apply.

2.  Do not miss anything – answer every question with as much detail as possible

A large number of bids are lost due to not breaking down the question and answering fully and with as much detail relating to the topic. We often don’t consider what exactly the funder wants to know in response to a question and how our response will help them to understand what we do. For example, if asked what were your outgoing expenses related to the project in year one, you should list each expense and not just give a total amount.

3. Keep your mission at the forefront at all times

When answering any part of a bid it is important to show your commitment to your mission as this will show the difference of, and passion within, your organisation. Highlight the unique selling points of your project/programme: how it impacts on the community it serves; what your Theory of Change is; what outcomes you plan to achieve and the steps you will take to achieve them. Take this as an opportunity to ‘brag’ about all the great work you do.

4. Are you clear about your outcomes!

Remember this is not just about the work you will do but also, and vitally, the impact your work will have. What changes and positive outcome will be seen by your users and the community? Showcase the social impact by detailing evidence from previous work, for example, through completion of an employability programme 20 service users were employed for over 12 months. Of these 20, five are now volunteers for our programme.

5. Scoping need and demonstrating the ability to deliver it!

Funders want to know that you will deliver on their investment so it is vital that you can demonstrate the need for your work within the community and the difference it will make, not only in immediate outcomes but also the impact it will have in the long term. You also need to make it clear to the decision makers that your programme fits with the aims and plans of their fund. 

6. Engage your service user

One key mistake made by many bid writers is not demonstrating how the project has included its users; have they been a part of the research; did you seek their views; are services bespoke to them and not a “one size fits all” approach? Do not be daunted if you haven’t, you might have personal experience or seen it work for another area. Recognise this as an area for growth and improvement for future applications.

7. Demonstrate strategy

Demonstrating your ability to apply strategy in the way your project runs by breaking down each action using the 6 WHs (Who, What, When, Where, Why and importantly the How). Answering these questions shows your project is well thought out and plans effectively.

You also need to highlight your ability to respond to emerging issues and how you plan in advance for how to deal with any risks or threats, for example other ways to get referrals if numbers are low through networks.

These steps can assist you in developing a strong and well-planned bid application that shows the difference your work can make and that speaks the language funders need to hear if you want them to invest in you. By starting early and ensuring you produce a well-written bid, the better chance you have.

For more information on bid writing or if you are interested in bid writing training contact the BTEG team, information available on our website.

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