by Pieter Jacobs, ACT CEO –

Striking a balance between the artistic merit and the physical implementation of a project is one of the most important aspects of a funding proposal, yet the nemesis of many a fundraiser.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) receives more than 800 applications a year. Of these, the Trust is generally in a position to support approximately 7%. When you do the math you will see that the odds aren’t great. But it would be foolish not to apply – IF your project is eligible. Especially since ACT’s application process is a breeze.

As alluded to, there is absolutely no point in submitting an application if your project is not eligible. I can’t stress the importance of reading guidelines and criteria enough. In fact, I read it at least three times before I make a decision whether my time is worth risking completing an application form. Not only in ACT’s case is it imperative that you know what a potential funder will consider supporting and to what extent. I can’t speak for other funding bodies, but the ACT Board means what they say. The Professional Development Programme criteria on our website is applied with the strictest measure.

A misperception that the ACT management chooses projects for support is another result of not engaging with the guidelines of the programme. A rigorous process is followed and, after Trustees’ project selections have been submitted, the votes are collated and from there it takes its course.

Once you’ve established fit, a good place to start would be to find a concise way to entice the reader. 800 applications, remember? We receive numerous proposals that are not clear about what it is that they are applying for, which is the most fundamental aspect of the application. I know this sounds strange but I kid you not. Even though this goes without saying for many, it is important to be clear about what you plan to do with the funds you are requesting.

ACT also receives many applications, which, in theory, propose really good ideas, but then do not have any bearing on reality when it comes to projected costs and activity plans. An ill-conceived concept is spotted a mile away. Ultimately, there are no exceptional words that could give a flawed project appeal. But flawed words could most definitely be the downfall of an exceptional project.

Herewith some resources you might find useful:
http://www.ukm.my/zuhairi/Pengajaran/tips/guide_proposal.pdf
http://foundationcenter.org/getstarted/tutorials/shortcourse/index.html
http://www.fundsforngos.org/category/proposal-writing-2/page/2/
http://www.civicus.org/new/media/Writing%20a%20funding%20proposal.pdf