Writing a government funding proposal for your small business in order to get funded isn’t an easy task, especially if you’re unsure of where to even begin. This funding proposal writing guide will help you deal with the planning, the researching and the writing of the funding proposal as well as educated you on the necessary steps after the proposal has been submitted.
Why should you follow a funding proposal guide?
If you’re not familiar with the requirements of a funding proposal and how to write one, a guide is often one of the most beneficial tools you can have. Not only will it educate you on the process but with examples provided your chances of raising money effectively for your small business will increase.
Who should use the guide?
This funding proposal writing guide is aimed specifically at those who don’t feel very confident about writing funding or government funding proposals on their own, and simply put, those who don’t have any experience. The guide can be used by an individual, a project manager or a company, or anyone who is really committed to ensuring a successful funding proposal is completed and submitted in order to raise money. Often the best funding proposals are created by the business owner or a team for best collaboration.
Before you start writing your business funding proposal
Before you start writing a funding proposal for your small business be sure you’ve done all of the necessary work such as the research, the planning and the overall thinking. If you start writing your proposal before any of this, you are going to simply get lost.
Before you begin writing your funding proposal, you will need to be sure:
- that you are clear about why and whom you are writing the proposal for
- you understand the needs and requirements of whom you are applying to
- that you know yourself (now your strengths, weaknesses, know your financials and know your business)
- that you plan the project/business
Why are you writing the funding proposal?
This is often the very first question you need to ask yourself and be able to answer before you start writing your funding proposal.
Remember the purpose of writing a funding proposal is to persuade somebody to give you or your small business funding. Be sure to remember that the key is persuasion and not explanation, description nor is it selling. So while you need to be able to describe and explain your business in detail you have to be able to do it in a way that convinces and persuades the funding agency to provide you money in the end.
Not many places will require a funding proposal, most will simply accept a funding application and a copy of your business plan. However those that need a funding proposal are often the same agencies that provide access to larger funding amounts, or when a larger project is in question and multiple funding agencies are being presented to at once.
Who are you writing the funding proposal for?
There are two questions within this one question. When writing your proposal you have to keep in mind that you are writing the proposal for government funding for the specific government funding agency or scheme, however you are also writing the proposal in a way that it will attract and keep the reader interested. The reader often be a funding agent.
When wiring a funding proposal for a funding agency remember the advantages and disadvantage of government funding agencies:
Advantages of government funding agencies
- they often have a lot of money to provide
- they may be useful on issues of policy, access..etc
- if your business needs fit the funding scheme/agency, your chances greatly increase
Disadvantages of government funding agencies
- the process of applying is very time consuming
- the funding is often delayed and has very little to no flexibility
- the application requirements can be very complex
Do you understand the needs and requirements of the funding agency?
When applying for government funding and when writing your funding proposal as much as it’s important to know what you need, it’s almost as important to know what the funding agency you are applying to requires. Why? Well if your small business needs to have £500,000 in government funding in order to help you succeed, knowing if that much money is available from the funding agency may be the first step. Is it available? What was the largest funding amount ever provided from the agency in the past? What was the average? What kind of businesses does the agency fund? Are they more likely to fund 10 businesses with £50,000 each or 1 business with £500,000?
Knowing the funding agency and how they perform will help you when creating your own funding proposal.
Do you know yourself and your business?
There is nothing worse then not being prepared. If you ever watch TV shows such as Shark Tank or Dragons Den you see when the Sharks/Dragons ask a business owner a question and they don’t know how to answer, it’s pretty much done. Many entrepreneurs jump into business without knowing a lot, don’t be one of those people. Be sure to plan and have a strategy so that you are able to answer any and every question that may be asked of you.
One important thing to know about your small business are your strengths and weaknesses. Refer to your business plan’s SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).
Do you know your funding proposal’s project?
When writing a business funding proposal you have your needs in mind. You may be able to explain your needs within your proposal for the reader to understand, but it’s often recommended that you show the steps you plan on taking to ensure that your needs and the funding agencies needs are met. What are those steps?
- What do you want to achieve?
- How will you achieve it?
- Who will benefit?
Explain the objective of the funding proposal (and be specific), what is the process you are going to take in order to achieve your objective and in the end, what are the results?
When writing your actual funding proposal for a government funding agency there are many different ways to write one. Some funding agencies may ask that you have a specific template for a funding proposal while others are left up to you. Here are are possible structures of a funding proposal:
The title should not be long at all and should capture the project in a short phrase or sentence.
- Title of the proposal
- Name of the funding agency your proposal is being submitted to
- Name and address of your company with a logo if possible
- Name of the contact person in your company
In your summary, briefly state the what the context is (what is your problem); what your company feels is the best way to find a resolution to the problem you are facing; why this would be a way to fix the problem; what will happen if you are successful at fixing the problem; who will benefit; how long will it take and what will the overall cost be?
- Summarize in about 250 to 300 words in length
This of this pages as an index of your proposal. With a contents page the reader will be able to find his or her way around your proposal quickly.
- List the main headings and page numbers here
The Proposal (body of the proposal)
In the proposal section be sure to give a brief context of the situation along with relative figures, explain how you identified the problem and found the opportunity, summarize your objective and the steps you are planning on taking to achieve success.
- The context of the project (this should be about 1 page)
- Specific or relevant opportunities and problems you see (half a page)
- Objectives (half a page)
- Intended process (3 to 4 page)
Conclusion (and budgeting)
The conclusion section is where you give the main budget items and the totals over the entire project period. This is also a good place to summarize your entire financial plan.
- What are you requesting and why?
- Include a brief budget summary
This is where you put other details without making the proposal body too long.
- Detailed technical description or the project requirements (methods, detailed budget, audits, financial statements..etc)
This is the area to list any references or sources that you used within your business plan and your funding proposal
- List any references that you’ve used and/or mentioned
The Do’s and Don’ts of Writing a Funding Proposal
- Do make contact with a real person and then address the proposal to him or her
- Do plan ahead so that your proposal isn’t rushed
- Do show that you know who else is working in the field and what they are doing
- Do involve others in the proof reading and editing of the proposal
- Do explain jargon and acronyms
- Do keep it short – not more than 10 pages
- Do show that you care about the work
- Do pitch the tone correctly and be human
- Don’t take a one proposal fit’s all approach
- Don’t include non relevant things in your budget
- Don’t sent too much documentation
- Don’t assume the funding agency knows about you and your needs
- Don’t use unnecessary jargon
- Don’t make the project fit the funding agency requirements on purpose (if it doesn’t)
Writing a Funding Proposal Tips
- Write simply and avoid use of jargon
- Use short sentences
- Use the active rather than passive voice
- Check your spelling and grammar mistakes
- Revise and rewrite if neccessary
- Don’t exaggerate
- Write for a non-technical writer
- Use headings and sub-headings
- Number all of you rpages
- Bind or staple the document in the right order
- Don’t crowd the text
- Use a font that is easy to read
Once you’ve submitted your government funding proposal don’t just let it go. As it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before a funding agency looks at your business plan, funding applications and funding proposals it’s important to followup with them on your proposal.
There are 2 to 3 ways to follow up:
- By calling the representative to ask how your funding proposal and funding application are doing and asking by when you should expect a responce
- By following up in writing to ask how your application is doing
- By e-mailing your contact
When following up on your funding proposal and funding application be sure that you are polite and pleasant and ensure you are persuasive rather then aggressive.
Keep in mind that these funding agencies don’t owe you anything. You may hope that the funding agency representative will be helpful and treat you with respect, however there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, you cannot afford to get a reputation for being demanding, threatening otherwise the risk of getting denied due to a simple fact as that may be damaging to your success.
For a sample government funding proposal get in touch with our help team here at UKStartups.org