Recipe for a Successful Grant Application
Written by Nigel Lambert

Euram have witnessed the development of a considerable number of grant applications, due to this experience our team is able to spot the hallmarks or ingredients of a strong grant funding application and how best to strengthen weaker bids. The ingredients of this recipe for success can be grouped into three basic categories:

WHO - Funding agencies appoint reviewers and set funding policies that favour particular organisations hence reviewers specifically award funding to applicants that they accept are credible, therefore who is presenting the application is key for success. Specific features to consider are:

  1. Leadership – The single most important factor in a successful application is its leadership. While most applications tend to be collaborative endeavours, it is essential that the application is led by an individual with a clear vision and purpose. In practice this person is typically the architect and/or coordinator of the project.
  2. Consortium Quality – To complement the above, the composition of the consortium is central to an application’s chance of success. Reviewers are looking to procure a result from the project, therefore the team must comprise participants that are seen to be credible providers of the project results.
  3. Consortium Cohesion – How well the team behind the application coalesce and collaborates has a direct bearing on the merit of application. Strong teams reinforce the strength of the application as it develops.

PROJECT – Applicants must have good project ideas that are competitive and well suited to the priorities set by the funding agency.

  1. Fit to the funding call – As funding agencies define priorities for a given funding competition “call”, how thoroughly an application satisfies a given call’s priorities is of paramount importance. Applicants may have great project ideas but they must meet the agenda defined by the funder.
  2. Project Quality – Project ideas, strategy and project plans must be high quality, detailed, well thought out and robust. Reviewers are looking for projects that inspire confidence and appear worthy of funding.
  3. Competition – As the name suggests, funding competitions are competitive processes, it is important to consider the likely competitive landscape your application will face. Placing your application to standout in a given field is important.

APPLICATION – How the application is developed and presented to the funding agency and reviewer is important.

  1. Writing and Presentation – Provided that you are a strong team with good ideas it is vital that you communicate clearly and quickly with the reviewers. Applications must be written and presented in a format that engages with the reviewer and delivers the right information at the right time. A key recommendation is to “keep the reviewer happy” while they review your application.
  2. Application Process – Grant funding applications, particularly for highly technical subject matter, are complex undertakings so it is highly advisable to approach the application process in good time with a structured approach. A sound application process is central to allow applications to mature and grow. An immature or rushed application that lacks structure and depth is very easy to spot as a reviewer.

The above factors can be assessed and plotted on a radar diagram. The above 8 factors can be assessed using a score of 1 to 5, the ideal is to have an application where the scores are as high as possible. Euram’s recommendation is to understand the strengths and weaknesses in an application as early as possible. It’s often possible to strengthen weak factors in an application e.g. by introducing a new partner to the application adds key strengths to the application or by getting expert input during the writing of the bid.

If you would like advice or guidance on proposal development from our expert team of consultants, please do get in touch via or follow us on Twitter @EuramLtd.