Top tips for successful funding applications


There is a great variety of funding sources, but there are some elements that are key to any successful funding bid:

1)      Know your funder, their remit and priorities: All funding bodies have their individual remit, and they will also have priorities. If your project idea does not fit absolutely perfectly with the funder’s idea of what they want to fund there is no point applying. Check their stated remit and priorities, scale of projects supported (timescale, budget), previous projects funded (from its website), buzzwords in the guidelines. Understanding a funder and ensuring your funding bid matches them is vital to its success.

2)      Link your projects to identified needs and priorities: illustrate how the red listing work is aligned to achievement of the CBDs objectives, for example, or national and regional priorities, such as national biodiversity strategy and action plans, capacity development or existing national programmes. Many donors will want to see an explicit link between the work being proposed and the outcome, in terms of meeting an identified need or donor objectives.

3)      Understand existing funding: What other projects have been or will be funded? Which have been successful? An understanding of this enables you to develop proposals that build on existing work in a complimentary way, and avoid duplication.

4)      Understand how to write a funding proposal: write concisely and clearly and make sure the proposal is logical and engaging. Illustrate clarity of purpose and linkages between aims/objectives/outputs and how these will be achieved. Demonstrate the feasibility of the project and likelihood of success. Have a hook – think of a one-liner to catch their imagination; make the proposal stand out as excellent!

5)      Raise awareness: decisions on funding are often partly political, and are made among competing national and global priorities. A successful funding bid for a NRL relies in part on the ability to raise awareness of its need. As part of this it is important to identify the needs of decision makers.

6)      Sustainability: is the project cost effective, replicable and does it ensure financial sustainability of any activity that continues after the end of your project? Financial sustainability may be illustrated for example through direct financial commitment from the government; trust funds, or long term co-funding. The project should also be technically sustainable in terms of realistic capacity for data collection and monitoring techniques.

7)      Show value for money: specify the outcomes of the projects – how many taxonomists will be trained, how many people will be trained in Red Listing, what is the outreach strategy to publicise the project and raise maximum impact in terms of awareness raising for biodiversity conservation etc. Remember that National Red Lists are more than just a series of assessments – it steers conservation planning, can feed into national legislation, can be effectively used to engage with the general public (see, for example, the case study from Venezuela.

The Conservation Leadership Programme provides excellent step-by-step guides on all aspects of conservation project planning, and funding is no exception. Find out more here.