How to ask for money

If you want donors to support your work, this is our advice on what donors want

We strongly advise that you don’t just chase money or shape your request to fit what you come across: know what you want and look for the source that will let you achieve that.

And please do your homework – find out all you can about a donor before you apply. Check what kinds of organisations they fund and the geographical area they cover, and other factors like the size of grants they typically give.

CHECK what they fund

E.g. revenue: project running costs; core costs – salaries, heat, light, rent

Capital costs: buildings, equipment, vehicles

Now CHECK what they DON’T fund: most will list some exclusions

CHECK how they fund

E.g. timescale: length of funding; amounts; deadlines; single or several stage process; whether matched funding is needed.

Before you can ask for funding you need to know exactly:

  • what you are providing now
  • what needs funding
  • what doesn’t need funding
  • what new activities you want to develop

The funder will look at how you explain:

  • who will benefit and what need/s you address
  • what impact this will have, and how
  • where and when it takes place;
  • how much it costs
  • why it is good value for money
  • why your organisation is best placed to deliver this
  • whether you need to involve other parties
  • how much you want the donor to fund
  • if that is not all you need, where the rest will come from
  • how you will measure success
  • what will happen at the end of the grant/donation.

Comply with the donor’s requests:

  • have you used their form, if they have one?
  • do you fit their criteria?
  • have you met their deadline?
  • have you included all they ask for?

Are you up to date with your reports at the Charity Commission, Companies House, etc.?

Good funding requests (what donors tell us):

  • Will show you really know what you want to do, and why, and how;
  • Will show you understand what the donor is looking for.

CHECKLIST of what NOT to do

·         Don't use jargon – your request will be read by many, including non-specialists so ask someone who doesn’t know about your work to read a draft first to make sure it is clear

·         Don't forget to check criteria

·         Don't forget to send requested documents

·         If the funder has a form, use it and don't send material they haven’t asked for

·         Don't telephone if asked not to or if the number is not easily found

·         But if help is offered, make use of it.

SUCCESS! If you are offered funding:

  • read the donor’s conditions
  • query anything you do not understand
  • be honest if you cannot comply with any criteria or anything has changed since you applied for the funds
  • set up a system straight away to collect monitoring information required and to meet reporting deadlines


Tell the donor of any changes – good or bad. You may want to reapply, so don’t burn your bridges.

For a useful guide on how to write a funding bid click here.