Hints and tips

Watch our film about applying to Esmée, with advice from our grants managers on what they look for in an application:

Applying to Esmée Film November 2015 from Esmée Fairbairn Foundation on Vimeo.

Subtitled version of the Applying to Esmée film here

Here are some more tips on making your application

  • Please write in clear simple English - avoid jargon.
  • Make sure the application is fact based - overblown claims mean nothing without substantiated figures to support them (i.e. rather than  'many people will benefit' say that '30 children between 8 and 10 years of age will learn an instrument over 6 weeks').
  • Ensure that your figures add up - check and triple check.
  • Please don't ask for a grant that is disproportionate in the context of your overall funding.  It makes sense in the long term to build relationships with a number of funding streams (trusts and foundations, business sponsors, Local Authorities etc) to ensure long term stability and this makes your application more attractive.  You will probably not get, for example, £300,000 over 24 months if you are a start up with no track record or you have no other funders.
  • Don't try to fit a square peg into a round hole - if you genuinely don't fit with one of our priorities there is no point trying to pretend that you do.
  • Ensure that you've explained the who (you are seeking to assist), what (specifically you are proposing to do), why (you think it will work), when and where - keep it simple and keep it factual and back everything up with figures and names.  Write in specific terms rather than generalities - especially regarding track record and outcomes.
  • Ask someone who doesn't know the project or your organisation to read the application before you submit it - if they can understand what you are proposing, it should be easy for the grant assessor to understand the proposal.
  • Always tell us about partnerships - we are interested!
  • Acronyms - assume we don't know what they mean.
  • Don't spend ages telling us how this work meets government targets and standards.
  • Take a look at the grants we have made previously.
  • Keep to the word limit of 1,000 words (equivalent to about two sides of A4).
  • Don't take up lots of space explaining the general issues that lie behind your work - assume we have a basic understanding of the context in which you operate and the generic needs of your beneficiaries e.g. migrant organisations do not need to tell us much about the problems that asylum seekers commonly face.  We are more interested in what the organisation is going to do and what qualifies it to do so.
  • Tell us why you are unique and remember if the services are commonplace throughout the country you will need to show how what you do is distinctive.
  • Track record is fundamentally important, so do tell us about yours.
  • You may find the Charity Commission useful for information and advice on Governance and also this document on Internal Financial Controls.