Jim offers some tips on composing any funding or contract bid. Having won many highly competitive funding bids and contracts from the likes of government departments , CCGs, Local Authorities, Big Lottery, trusts and the like these 8 tips summarise the essence of a successful proposal. You will find it really useful to quickly sketch out your application using these headings to get you to a draft notion of how persuasive your proposition is going to be.
1 – A Clear Goal:
So what will be the final result?; what will the project achieve and for who?. Describe your goal in change terms such as: “patients with chronic illnesses will manage their conditions more effectively and have better health and well being”, or “young people will have acquired key skills and be more ready for the job market”
2 – Why it matters (more?)
Try to establish a) what is important about your work and b) what is special about your approach if there are unique features. If your work is going to innovate something why is it better than what is currently happening? For instance “GP’s routinely deal with 20% of cases where the issue is non-medical – cases that they can do nothing about. This social prescribing scheme will offer help to all patients from a wide menu of support activities to meet social, financial or other needs that can help improve patients’ wellbeing and reduce demand for primary and urgent care service”. This example is tackling, or beginning to tackle, a complex and wasteful problem that is routinely repeated. Here also there is no other way of tackling the problem in full so it matters more than other proposals that don’t tackle the whole problem though they may tackle small parts of the problem. So some funding bids – not all – will be able to show that there is not a better alternative to achieving a certain solution.
3 – Outcomes first
So from your goal make clear the change that will come about as a result of your project. What impact will it make? What will be the outcome at the end of the scheme and at stages along the way? For instance “students who previously did badly at school will be better able to enjoy school and flourish” or “older people will have improved diets and improvements in health”. These show the change that will take place.
4 – Planned pathway
Say how you are going to get to your outcome? What will be the means to your stated ends? (your outcomes and goal) i.e. the activities or services; where/how will they take place?; who will deliver them?; what resources will you need? – staff, plant, facilities etc.
5 – Value-for-money statement
What will be the value of what you will be providing and who gets this value? Value and cost are not the same thing. Value is the sum of all the benefits that will occur as a result of the project; cost is a cash only cost-per-unit sum. It is important to impress on your decision-maker the value of what you propose to do. All too often commissioners compare costs only and don’t get to make adequate value comparison. They need to be urges to look at value.
6 – Who benefits and how
Of course your beneficiaries and what they will get are at the core of your project proposal. Specify who benefits and how.
7 – A strategy to get your proposal supported
Sometimes this area is neglected as people who bid for contracts or funding quite rightly play by the stated rules and decision-making processes. Alongside good rule-adherence it is always important to check out who influences decisions on your bid; who’s opinion or influence makes a difference and what do they think or are they likely to think about your proposal? It is important that you assess what they think will be important content and propositions in any winning bids. Assess the forces for and against your proposition and what you can do to manage these forces to see if they positively can affect the decision. Key opinions and opinion formers might need to be backing your proposal from the get go.
8 – Finely tune before you write
Don’t start writing your bid until your draft plan is rehearsed, re-rehearsed and persuasive. You can use these 8 heading to scaffold your draft bid if you like. Once you’ve done this the bid will write itself!