How to write winning bids for UK government funding competitions

In economic development, the ability to fund your priorities so often comes down to effective bid management. Whether your organisation is a local authority, a development body, charity or association, writing bids for funding competitions is a fact of life. Here’s how to win...

Economic development in the UK has entered a new age of ‘challenge-funding’ competitions run from Whitehall. Writing compelling bids for local programmes is a bit like interviewing for a job. The fundamentals of your pitch are always the most important. But these can be undone by poor technique and strategy. So, be methodical. Stay objective. And don't lose sight of what the judges need to see...

  1. Be forensic in building an information requirements checklist. Download all official bid prospectus and guidance materials for the fund. Comb each line for formal and informal requirements. Combine these with the HMT Green Book Checklist for Assessment of Business Cases.

  2. Remember the bid judge's test: why are they doing this? Judges expect bids to be built out from solid ‘logic model’ and project appraisal principles. They will get suspicious if they don’t see evidence that you considered other options for project design and delivery.

  3. Maintain a live model of bid financials vs project outputs. Bids develop in the lead up to submission. Funding partners come and go. Outputs change. Spreadsheet models that link bid financials to project measures simplify updates with a single, at-a-glance version of the truth.

  4. Make time for external review – use an ‘evil twin’ checklist. Keep things objective with outside perspectives. Peer reviewers should cross-reference content with the fund's information requirements and an ‘evil twin’ checklist of mistakes and bad impressions that could sink the bid.

  5. Mobilise high-profile alliances of support. Judges want to see evidence that the bid supports local and national plans for the economy, society and the environment. Nothing shows this better than statements of support from civic leaders that emphasise the strategic fit.

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