Independent Living Institute


Disability Awareness in Action
Resource Kit No. 5

by Agnes Fletcher
© 1996 Disability Awareness in Action, All rights reserved

Download the "Fund-Raising Kit" as a PDF file (120 KB)

Funding Applications

General Principles
As a fund-raiser, you must make sure your application fits what you know about the funding agency and make your application very easy to understand.

In drawing up your first few funding proposals, it may help to ask someone who has experience in preparing plans and costing, even if this experience isn’t related to disability organisations.

Always apply in writing, not by telephone or in person.

Good Proposals

Follow Up
Keep a record and copies of all applications, with dates of each and notes of any phone calls or meetings.

If there are any requests for further information, respond quickly.

If you are successful, it’s very important to thank the funding agency for their help. You may be re-applying to them for something else in the near future.

Build Your Relationship With the Funder
It’s also worth keeping in touch, telling your contact with the funding agency about the progress and success of the project they are funding or any problems that arise. Keep to any reporting date deadlines. A fully informed funder is more likely to consider further support.

If you are not successful, it may be worth asking to speak to an administrator and asking for advice on what was wrong with your application. Funding agencies get an enormous number of requests and are not able to fulfil them aII. Advice from someone on the inside might help you in the future.

Letter of Inquiry
Your first letter should be made up of the following pieces of information.

Opening Paragraph

How much money is being asked for and why?
Your Organisation
State the aims of your organisation. Describe its main activities and accomplishments and its special qualifications to carry out the planned project. Give some supporting evidence on your organisation’s achievements and qualifications.
The Project
Describe the most important features of the proposed project. Include some specific information about its scope and consequences. Be sure you describe what needs to be done in such a way that it leads logically to your planned solution.
Goals and Objectives
Summarise these briefly. Include aims which can be evaluated.
Say that you would appreciate a chance to submit a proposal for this project and explain how the agency can communicate with you most effectively.

Your organisation’s name, address and telephone details

Address of funding agency



I am writing for information on the possibility of funding assistance for a project that we have identified.

The project is concerned with (give title or brief description of the project idea, including its objectives, expected activities, outcomes and estimated budget needs].

We would be grateful to know if your organisation would consider providing technical or financial assistance for such a project If so, how should we apply for the necessary assistance? Please provide us with the relevant application forms, if there are any.

Should you not be in a position to help us, we would be grateful if you could recommend other organisations that may be interested in our proposal.

Yours sincerely

Name and position within the organisation

What to Put in a Proposal
Only send a full funding proposal if it is called for in the agency’s application guidelines or it is asked for. If an agency asks you to follow a specific format, always do so. If it doesn’t specify what should go into the proposal, you can safely follow this outline:

A summary
Information about your organisation, its policy and structure
A description of the project, why it is needed and who will benefit
Goals and objectives of the project
Plan of action
Expected outcomes
The evaluation process
Budget and finances
Support materials - latest audited accounts, evidence of effectiveness (this could be an annual report or a letter of appreciation).
If your organisation is a registered charity, send the registration number. If it has an official tax exemption number or letter, send the reference.

Tell Enough But Not Everything
You do not have to tell everything about each subject. Provide just enough information to adequately describe each section and no more. If you put too much in, the person reading the proposal will get lost in minor details and miss the important points. After your proposal is written, read it over very carefully. Identify any unnecessary sentences and paragraphs and get rid of them.

Be Specific
There are very few places in your proposal where it is appropriate to make elaborate general statements, other than perhaps in describing the long-term goals and philosophy of your organisation. The rest of the proposal should be in specific, plain and simple language. Otherwise, the person who reads your proposal may not know what you are talking about.


The Summary
The summary should be brief, not more than one and a half pages long. It should only contain statements that are fully supported in the main proposal. The time to write the summary is after you have written the main proposal. Below is an outline of what it might look like.

Project title

Name of Organisation:
Telephone No:
Fax No:
Contact Person: title and name of person with overall responsibility for the application

Applicant Organisation
Write a very short paragraph describing your organisation. Summarise its qualifications for carrying out the proposed project. Be specific!

Geographical Focus and Target Group
Describe the area where the project will operate and who will benefit.

Duration of Project
Give the number of years for which funding is requested and a starting date.

Break down expenses by year and by source:
 Year 1Year 2Year 3
Total Expenses____________
Amount requested from funding agency____________
Amount from all other sources____________

The Purpose
Describe the nature and extent of the problem(s) being addressed by your project in one paragraph. Include evidence to support your statement.

Project Description
Summarise long-term goals and one-year objectives. Describe the overall project strategy and the major steps to be taken in reaching your goals. Point out important features of the plan of action, including those that will help assure success and cost effectiveness of the project. Mention any significance the project will have beyond the years for which it will be funded and effects outside the area where it will be carried out.

Expected Outcomes
Give a brief idea of what you think the project will achieve for your target group.
Writing About Your Organisation
What you include in this section depends on the activities of your organisation and how long it has been in existence. Make sure that everything you include is correct and could be proved if necessary. Below is an outline of the type of things you might include.

Name of Your Organisation

Describe your organisation and one or two of its most important features in no more than two sentences. Who started the organisation? When, how and why was it started? What is its purpose?

What is the organisation’s guiding philosophy? Keep this short.

What are the most important events in the history of the organisation? Just mention really important achievements or changes in direction.

Describe the individuals/organisations that belong to and benefit from your organisation.

Activities and Accomplishments
Describe the organisation’s recent activities. Be specific in explaining the scope of these activities. Do they involve 25, 150 or 2,500 people?

Describe the results or impact of activities. Where possible, support claims of impact with statistics or other evidence. Summarise the results of any previous evaluations of the organisation’s work. A very good way to convince a funder that your organisation’s projects are well-managed is to give evidence that you have evaluated past projects.

You might want to include a few quotes from beneficiaries, community leaders or experts familiar with the work of the organisation, as well as statistical evidence of achievements. Mention any honours, awards or special recognition received.

Human and Other Resources
In a few sentences, describe the governing body of the organisation and who or what kinds of people make the main policy decisions, i.e. is the organisation controlled and run by disabled people? Mention any advisory committees and who is involved with them.

Describe the paid and volunteer staff: numbers of people, their job titles and responsibilities if it is a small staff; departments or divisions in a larger organisation; and geographic location of staff if the organisation has several offices.

Organisational Affiliations
Mention any organisations that work with your group in carrying out projects and what they do.

Show your organisation’s involvement with any other local, regional, national or international organisations, including both governmental and non-governmental groups.

Describe the financial situation of the organisation in general terms, how big the budget is and major funders. Note any international contributors. Explain sources of earned income, such as membership dues, fees for services, money from sale of goods, etc.

If conditions are unsettled or uncertain in your region, mention any characteristics of your organisation that will enable it to continue to carry out the project for which you are seeking funds. For example, if the political situation is unstable, does your organisation get support from several political groups? Does strong community participation and backing enable your organisation to continue operating in spite of lack of support from other sources? Give evidence of that support
Failure to admit to problems will not promote confidence in your organisation and its proposal.

Describing the Project
In this section you let the funding agency know why the project is needed. They may not be experts in disability and may have little or no idea of just how hard life is for disabled people.

You need to let them know about the situation you are trying to improve and the project you think will do this. An outline of what this part of the proposal might look like is given below.

The Project

Summarise the nature and extent of the problem in one or two sentences.

Description of the Problem
What is the nature of the problem? What are its main causes and the main barriers to its solution? Give evidence.

How many disabled people in how many regions or provinces are affected? What kinds of disabled people are they - rural or city dwellers, men, women, children, older people? Support what you say with evidence from government reports or statistics, studies by non-governmental agencies, universities, or recognised experts. Name your sources.

What are some of the consequences of the problem? For example, if you are concerned about levels of education, describe economic and social consequences.

You can use the experiences of your members and staff as sources of evidence when describing the problem.

Other Efforts to Address the Problem
What efforts have been made recently or are currently being made? Why is your project necessary as well as - or instead of - these other efforts?

Your Organisation’s Experience with the Problem
First of all, it is disabled people who have the expertise when it comes to finding solutions to the problems of disability. This is an important point to make. Describe your organisation’s experience and strengths in relation to the problem. Peer support and advocacy may be an important element of the programme. Seeing other disabled people in positions of responsibility, gaining and using skills and living independently can be an enormous help to other disabled people.

Goals and Objectives

Long-Term Goals
Different people have different definitions of the words "goals" and "objectives". Many use "goals" to talk in a general way about the situation they would like to develop in the long-term. For example: "Full participation and equalisation of opportunities for all disabled people is certainly not a situation that exists now, nor is it likely to exist in the next few weeks, months or even years! It is a goal that we are all working towards.

The goal of your organisation might be "to gain full participation and equalisation of opportunities for all disabled people" in your local area. You can then measure any activities undertaken by your organisation in terms of that overall goal.

Short-Term Objectives
"Objectives" often describe what you hope to happen in the short-term. These are milestones on the way to long-term goals. Objectives need to be specific. An objective should state:

Objectives should be stated in terms of a measurable result. An objective might be to reach a certain level of literacy for a particular number of disabled people.

Objective: to ensure literacy for ten disabled women within two years.

Describing Your Plan of Action
Your plan of action is a description of the stages you will go through to reach your objectives. It is important to make clear, both to yourself and to the reader, the reasons why you have chosen these particular stages. In other words, you need to explain the "strategy" (or philosophy) you are following that led you to decide on these stages.

You should show the cost-effectiveness of the project and how it can continue after the grant ends. For instance, you are cost-effective because you use volunteers or other local resources. You can continue because income-generation is part of the project.

You need to make sure that your project meets the standards set by the funder For example, if the funder wants evidence of development and your project is about self-help, you need to explain the relationship between development and self-help. Funders don’t always have experience of what you are trying to achieve. They may not know why your project fits their standards unless you tell them.

It is a good idea to point out what is special or unique about your project and how it could be a model of excellence.

Explain any significance your plan of action has for the future; for cost benefits and benefits in quality of life resulting from training in independent living.

Project: training in independent living skills.
Long-term benefits: raised quality of life, employability, social participation.

Timetable of Activities
Describe very briefly the major activities that will occur during each year of a multiple-year project. This schedule should include times when major capital expenditures will take place.

Explain who will have overall responsibility for directing the project.

Describe the responsibilities of others involved in the project (use job titles not their actual names) or groups of people (both paid and volunteer). Be brief! This information will explain your budgeted about for salaries.

Be sure to mention if any special community, professional or other advisory committee for the project will be set up and explain what it will do.

A timetable generally shows what jobs will be carried out during each month of the project year. This is done on a chart with a line for each task to be performed and a column for each month, marking the months during which the task is carried out along the line for that task.

Below is an example of a timetable for an independent living skills training project.

Hire coordinatorX           
Recruit instructorsX           
Brief instructors XX         
Plan training course X          
Buy equipment and materials X          
Conduct training    X X  XX 

Include in the timetable all the planning stages for all activities. This might include:

Begin with a timetable that includes all the stages you will go through to complete each activity. In the final version of your proposal, you can cut out some of the less important activities but keep them in your working version so that you have a record if funders ask you any questions.

Explaining Evaluation Methods
Monitoring is keeping a record of something; observing and recording an activity or performance as you go along.

Evaluation is judging the value or effectiveness of something and usually happens at the end of a particular project or process.

Monitoring is useful for evaluation. Funders like the fact that you are looking at your project in a professional way. An evaluation also gives you useful information for any future plans.

When writing about your evaluation and monitoring methods you could follow the outline given below.


Say who (what person or position) is responsible for directing the evaluation process? Say how they have fulfilled their role - what their successes are and what the problems have been.

Say how often the evaluation will be carried out and when the results will be reported. A year-long project would probably only be evaluated once - at the end. A three-year project might be evaluated at 18 months (mid-term) and at the end. You may want to monitor progress more frequently to identify and correct problems as you go along.

State what will you examine to measure the success or lack of success of the project. These things should be taken mainly from the project objectives and there should be at least one for each objective.

For example, if one objective calls for reducing illiteracy among older disabled people by 30 per cent after one year, the results will be measured against this standard.

Say what data or facts you will collect for your evaluation.

Decide how you will collect and record the data needed for your evaluation;whether to use questionnaires or interviews. Will the data be collected as part of the ongoing business of the project? Who will collect the data?

State what parts of the project will be assessed during monitoring. Consider all the major parts or activities that contribute to reaching the project’s objectives - staff performance, training, publications, transport, buying equipment, materials and supplies, community relations, performance of cooperating organisations.

Say what process will be used to analyse the data collected for the overall project report; and who (what groups or individuals) will study the evaluation data, draw conclusions from them and make recommendations for improvements. How will these people be chosen?

Use of Evaluation
Include a note of the people that the evaluation report is to be sent to. How will it be used to improve the project?

continue...Preparing a Budget

Contents Fund-Raising