Trusts receive many applications and trustees are often busy volunteers. They’ll need to understand your application quickly and easily, which is why it’s important that your application is a clear, concise and accurate description of your project and what it means to people affected by MS. You can use our which means that exercise to show how your group makes a difference.
Before you start writing your application, you need to think about how you will monitor the impact of your project - your potential funder will want to know how your project has made a difference to people affected by MS.
- You can find a template for monitoring the impact of your project here.
Writing your application
Always follow any guidance provided by the trust - tell them what they want to know in the format they want to receive it. Where no guidelines are available, you may find the following information useful when writing your applications.
Begin your application with an attention-grabbing paragraph that summarises your project, explains why you need funds and specifies how much you are applying for.
Now you have your reader’s attention, continue with the following detail:
Who the project will help
Why they need help
What you are doing to meet the need
What your project aims to achieve
How your project will achieve the aims/help your beneficiary group
How you will monitor/measure/evaluate your achievements
When your project will start and how long it will operate
What your project will cost. If your project is an ongoing service, give the annual cost. (The full budget can be included here, or as an appendix)
Some factual information about the MS Society and multiple sclerosis
Repeat your ‘ask’ in the context of your budget. Will you give £x towards the full cost of £y, enough to help a stated number of people? Or run your service for a stated number of hours/days/weeks/months?
Your covering letter
Include a short summary of your proposal, enough to give the funder a flavour of your project. It can also be a useful place to include additional information:
If the funder does not specifically ask for a copy of our constitution, annual report and accounts or relevant policies, provide a link to MS Society policies and documents
Details of funding already raised or applied for
You may want to clarify branch status i.e. part of the national MS Society, operates independently with separate accounts, raises its own funds, organises its own events, makes its own operational decisions etc.
Grantmaking trusts will often ask for a copy of your branch accounts. If your group uses Branch Accounting Online, your treasurer will be able to run a report you can enclose.
- See our factsheet on producing a branch accounts summary
- Find out more about Branch Accounting Online
Some good practice suggestions for a successful trust application:
Write to a named administrator or correspondent if possible. Otherwise, “Dear Trustees” is preferable to “Dear Sir/Madam”
Include your contact details, telephone number, postal and email addresses
Make it legible – use at least 12 point Arial or Helvetica font. Avoid italics and ALL CAPITALS as these can be difficult to read. Consider underline or bold instead, to highlight key facts.
Keep it simple and don’t be too formal
Be concise - two to four sides of A4, including your covering letter and budget
Avoid jargon and explain any acronyms you use
Short words, sentences and paragraphs, and bullet points, headings and subheadings, can make it more readable
Be specific and back up claims with facts and figures - e.g. “We’ve noticed a huge increase in demand for our services” is less convincing than “Over the last 12 months, attendance at our Day Centre has increased by 25% from 40 to 50 people per week.”
Does anyone in your networks have personal contacts with grantmakers? While an introduction or endorsement won’t guarantee success or mean you can side-step the usual application process, it can give you an advantage over other eligible applicants.
Include relevant supporting materials but keep things simple by being selective.
Ask someone else to read your application, to check for typos and ensure it is clear, holds their attention and makes a compelling case for support.
- Back to applying to a local trust