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Bid writing: Preparing your funding proposal

Bid writing: Preparing your funding proposal

Who – and what – you need to know

Queen’s Young Leaders, Lia Nicholson and Kiiza Saddam Hussein tell Leading Change how they have made contacts and built networks to help them find funding opportunities, learn more about bid-writing, and provide evidence to back up their proposals.

This is Part 1 of a three-part resource on bid writing. In Part 2, Lia and Kiiza talk about Writing your funding proposal, and in Part 3, Do's and don'ts, they offer tips that will help you grow more successful with each funding application you submit.

Show off

When the Finnish Ambassador happened to be passing through Antigua, Lia Nicholson seized the opportunity to show him a local environmental project.

“It was an eco tourism birding trail – a sustainable livelihoods trail. He wasn’t an avid birder but he was interested in it. And that relationship was important. It was valuable to have that.”

Lia says that, where possible, you should always take the opportunity to show potential funders your project, explain how it operates and the good it’s doing, and to talk about your plans for the future.

“Then you just maintain a good relationship, and they’ll say, ‘We’re inviting applications, would you like to apply?’ And you do just that.”

Ask for advice

Kiiza Saddam Hussein has also found establishing networks – with funders and others –  invaluable.

“Before I submit a bid or proposal I first call many people who have knowledge in that area. I go to agencies. I go to embassies. I go to consultants who I know can help me.”

The first bid Kiiza ever made was for a grant for youth work on climate change, from the Federal Government of Germany.

He started by consulting others he knew who had already made successful bids, to ask them what to include in his proposal. Then he talked to a contact at the German Embassy who told him to back up his proposal with evidence.

wooden people figures

Image credit: JD Hancock

“Facts which are either backed by statistics,” he says, “And references from reports that have been issued about climate activities – some of the landslides and drought in areas where we are bidding for money to implement projects.”

Kiiza rewrote the proposal as the lady had suggested and then asked the same contact for feedback. She was so positive about the second draft of the proposal, that Kiiza asked her how he might be able to apply for a larger amount of funding.

“She gave me some hints about the money and how to draw a good budget, which I did.”

That was how Kiiza’s first bid for funding was successful.

Do your research

As the lady at the German Embassy advised Kiiza, research – evidence to back up concepts in a proposal – is essential. So, after his second bid for funding failed, Kiiza visited a library that was attached to the American Embassy in Uganda to prepare for the next one.

“I looked for those handouts and books about writing, funding, bidding, proposals and I also talked to one of the staff members about proposal writing and all that.”

In this way, Kiiza not only learnt more about bid-writing, but also researched evidence and statistics about street children. This enabled him to respond to a call for applications from the Uganda Youth Network.

tablet with research words

Image credit: Blue Diamond Gallery

“We won $6,000!” he says, “We used that money to first of all deal with street kids, train them with entrepreneurship skills but also try to get them to supporting families, so that they could get off the streets.”

Spurred on by this success, Kiiza was inspired to do more research to find out what individual funders were interested in.

He says it’s important to consider the problem you want to solve and do research on that problem.

“Knowing that problem more wider and more further, it gives me capacity to write a very thought-out proposal that is backed with realistic evidence.”

Network, network, network

“Writing applications is really one step in a much longer relationship building process,” says Lia.

And in case you were wondering? Yes, the eco tourism bird trail did win funding from the Finnish Embassy.

Part 2, Writing your funding proposal

Part 3, Do's and don'ts

Antillean Crested Hummingbird, image credit: Zeno Ferguson

“It was an eco tourism birding trail – a sustainable livelihoods trail. He wasn’t an avid birder but he was interested in it. And that relationship was important. It was valuable to have that.”

Lia Nicholson