So much fun already – learning from applications to the Crowdfunding Challenge

So there are just four days left before the deadline to enter our Crowdfunding Challenge. I’ve taken a quick look at some of the early applications; they are really fascinating, not least because it hits the same button as my secret squirrelling (which I’ve talked about in earlier blogs, like this one), but also because it really drives home some of the things that funders and fundraising trainers always go on about, but can often be forgotten.

If you ever get the chance to be on the panel reviewing grant applications (and many trusts and funders do take on outside help to do this) it is possibly the quickest way to learn how to write a good funding proposal there is. Looking at the Crowdfunding Challenge applications very quickly (and without giving anything away), there are some amazing projects applying to take part (phew) but there are some common mistakes being made in many applications. So if you are thinking of applying for this – or any other opportunity – then have a think about whether you’ve fallen into any of the following pitfalls…

  • The Cut-n-Paste job. They stand out a mile. Have they really applied for several other opportunities that are the same as this one? So why does the application form read as if they have? What do I think when I read it? Firstly I think that they’re not that bothered by this project, which when we need enthusiasm to make it a success, is a bit of a problem. Secondly I think that they can’t communicate with different audiences well, which when this project is about raising money from supporters or potential supporters, is an even bigger problem.
  • Too much information. We’ve set out what we’re interested in hearing about, so we’ll just lose sight of how you meet the criteria if there’s too much other stuff there. If I have to read an application twice, print it out and try to find the relevant points with a red pen, there is probably too much information. Or a lack of punctuation.
  • And, related to both the points above, it’s amazing how many applications seem to miss the point altogether. Take a look at the page setting out what we’re looking for.  Did you notice the first three points in bold? Then take a look at the bullets further down. We’re looking for organisations with ideas and enthusiasm who just need a bit of support to try out this new way of fundraising. Therefore we need to see your enthusiasm and we need to see your ideas and we need to believe you can be successful (so think about what evidence might help you to demonstrate that).

Finally, realism. Sometimes you can almost see the cartoon dollar signs flashing in the eyes of whoever wrote the application. We’ve written on the website that ‘anything up to about £30,000 can work well for crowdfunding’. And some great applications fill the reader with confidence that £30,000 – or indeed more – is a realistic target. But others leave you wondering whether the applicant has realised that this is a competition to see how much money they can raise themselves, not an application for a £30,000 grant. So, a quick reminder – good applications looking to raise £5k stand as much chance of being selected as good applications looking to raise £30,000 – it’s the good application bit that’s important.

So those are some of the more obvious pitfalls I’ve noticed – which I’m sure hold true whatever you are applying for. Once the deadline has passed (31st August) I’ll share some of the really great things I’ve noticed about applications. And some of them are really great. It’s going to be a fantastic competition.

Rosaline Jenkins

Read more or apply to the Crowdfunding Challenge 2012 (and we’ll be posting updates during the competition on that page too)

Keep in touch with us on Twitter @NCVOFunding #crowdfunding2012

Or take a look at some of the other brilliant things we’ll be showcasing at the Sustainable Funding Conference in November (early bird discount ends 5th October)

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Rosaline Jenkins Ros is NCVO's lead in Sustainable Funding, promoting a more sustainable, suitable and strategic approach to generating income of all kinds - donations, grants, contracts and trading. @RosJTweets

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