How to write a successful grant application

How to write a successful grant application
Grow London Local

Grow London Local

Posted: Thu 7th Dec 2023

Grants from local authorities, charities and the UK government are a great source of funding for businesses that operate in the cultural and creative sectors.

As there's no obligation to repay grants, these one-off lump sums can help your business cover big initial expenses like setting up and taking on premises without the added pressure of repayment schedules and interest.

However, organisations that award grants must be very selective about which businesses receive them.

To give your business the best chance of getting a grant, your application needs to be watertight and make a compelling case for why you deserve the money and what you'd do with it.

Here are some top tips for creating a successful grant application.


Before you write your application, remember to do the following:

  • Give yourself enough time: gathering evidence and writing your application takes time. Make sure you're capable of meeting the deadline before you begin.

  • Think about who is awarding the grant: do your plans line up with what the funder is aiming to do? If not, it might not be the right grant for your business.

  • Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria: you may need to have a bank account or a particular business structure to be eligible. Make sure you meet these requirements.

  • Be clear in your objectives: you need to know exactly how you'll use the funds to achieve your goals, and be able to state those objectives clearly.

Writing your application

Now it's time to write it all down. If you're given a blank canvas, you should provide the following information:

Your organisation

  • A summary of you and your business.

  • Your plans for the grant.

  • A reasonable estimate of what your plans will cost.

  • Why your plans are important and who will benefit.

  • Details of the resources, staff and expertise that will help you achieve your goals.

The grant

  • Why you meet the grant's criteria.

  • What need your business and your plans meet.

  • How the funding is enough for your goals.

The project

  • Whether the project is a one-off or ongoing.

  • Who it helps and how – you should say whether you have support from local groups or schools.

  • Who the intended audience is.

  • How you'll make sure people discover your project.

  • How you'll measure success.

  • Any partnerships with aligned projects or organisations that could help you achieve your goals.

  • The extent of the project that the funding will cover (it doesn't have to cover everything).

Why do applications fail?

You may not get feedback on your application if you're unsuccessful. So here are the main reasons grant applications are rejected:

  • Failing to provide all the information the funder has asked for.

  • Missing deadlines.

  • Not meeting eligibility criteria.

  • Asking for more money than is available.

  • Not clearly explaining your project and how you'll use the grant.

Where can I apply for grants?

  • The Mayor of London's Culture and Community Spaces at Risk programme has compiled a list of advice guidance for London's cultural, creative and community organisations to protect and support at-risk spaces.

  • The Greater London Authority shares information on current funding opportunities from the Mayor of London available to support communities and civil society organisations in London.

  • The Arts Council provides a list of funding sources for grants.


Your cultural and community space toolkit

If you're reading this guide as part of the Grow London Local toolkit for opening, running and growing a cultural or community space, next look at step 13: understanding crowdfunding


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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this content is solely that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the view of Grow London Local. Grow London Local accepts no liability for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication. We recommend that you obtain professional advice before acting or refraining from action on any of the contents of the content.

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