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Blog Post - Funding Advice from All Ways Network: Articulating the Need

At All Ways Network we recognise that Muslim led organisations are still underrepresented in the huge funding market. Some of the challenges I have heard from the groups we have supported include not knowing who the funders are, a lack of awareness of what funding is available as well as having little success when finally taking the plunge and making that first application.

One of the services we currently offer is becoming a ‘critical friend’ to grassroot organisations where we review funding applications and offer some constructive feedback which aims to strengthen their application before submission. When we review applications, we tend to see certain themes developing in the answers. Often feedback is given by us on the question which revolves around the need of the project.

Funders will often ask why a project is needed. A common approach we have seen from groups when answering this question has been to focus on the project, its outputs and all the brilliant things they will do. None of these approaches really answers the question of need. The funder is keen on discovering the ‘why’ of the project and hope it has not just come about because of a brilliant idea you just had. Some of the ways you can prove why the funding is needed includes community consultation, focus groups, surveys, statistics in the area that demonstrates the need and successful open days or taster/pilot programmes. The best assumption is to think the funder knows absolutely nothing about your locality or people and this should help you in your answer.

Some of the better applications we read articulates the need in a manner which is appealing to the funder. Let us take the example of a prison who has written an application asking for a new hospice. To identify the need they could give one of 2 hypothetical answers. In the first answer, they could talk about the size of the prison as well as the need for a hospice in case one of the prisoners falls ill. In the second answer, they may be able to prove that 40% of inmates are smokers and there is a risk of many dying alone in their cells which makes the need for the hospice an urgent one. Both of these answers have told the funder of the need for a hospice, but the 2nd answer may well appeal more to a funder rather than simply asking for money in case prisoners fall ill. In this answer, the prison has identified the need using statistics, as well as drawing a very clear and disturbing picture and appealing to the heart of the person who is reviewing the application. It may end up getting your organisation the funding in a time when funds are not only becoming more limited, but increasingly competitive.

Blog Post by Rashid Hussain, Funder and Charity Lead at All Ways Network. He can be contacted via email on

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