AoC’s top tips for successful tender applications
Each application process and tender is different but these simple tips can help you with all
submissions that your organisation completes. Some of them are very obvious but are often
forgotten when you are up against a deadline.
Firstly, decide if your organisation should bid, or not bid for a project. Not all
projects are suitable for all organisations, or not all organisations are eligible
for the funding/grant.
If the project requires partnerships, consider who would be best place to
partner with your own organisation. What relationships do you have
already? Consider if your organisation is the best to lead on this work or
would it be better if a partner you know led and your organisation was a
Consider the wider implications of the project – does the project fit into your
current organisation’s strategy, are there other departments within your
organisation who are already working on the area of work being considered
that you could discuss the tender with?
Do make sure you have sufficient resources, not only to write the submission,
but also to carry out the project if you are successful. Do not underestimate
the time it can take to write a submission and it is essential to take the time to
get it right.
Do ensure this project wouldn’t clash with any existing work you are
currently involved in or have in the pipeline. Often funding/grants do not
allow you to seek additional funding/grants on an existing live project.
Verify this before you submit an application.
Take the time to read the standard conditions of the funding/grant if
available. Applicants can make sure that they are in a position to adhere to
these conditions before taking the time to apply for the funding/grant.
Do ensure that you understand and meet the criteria of the project. Think
about what is being looked for. Some funding/grants have particular
criteria and restrictions on them that are non-negotiable and have been set by
the funder. Make a simple check list of what areas you are asked to cover or
reference. This way you can ensure that no detail is missed and you have the
best chance of being successful.
Do standout from the competition, the funder will probably receive a large
number of applications. Think about what your project or organisation could
offer that others couldn’t, what’s your unique selling point. Back up your
statements with evidence, for example, why your project is needed and why
you are the best organisation to deliver it.
Do adhere to the specifications of submitting, for example; if there are any
word limits, font size, a hardcopy is required or online submission only, do
you need to send a specific number of copies? Not adhering to these
specifications can lead to not being shortlisted, or even having your
Do keep your submission professional, simple and concise.
Do take the time to understand the marking criteria and any weighted
sections. This will help your submission score highly in the important/
weighted areas and could save you valuable time.
Do keep an eye on the relevant question page of the project – usually all
questions asked will be available, along with their answers, for all possible
bidders to take a look at, to ensure all bidders have the same opportunity.
Do leave time to proof read your submission… twice!
Consider your organisations house style of formatting. Will the moderator
understand this or should you, for the purpose of the bid, keep it generic.
Always show acronyms in full at the start of the document.Don’t assume the
marker will know them.
What NOT to do
Do not underestimate the time it will take to fill out the tender document –
take the time early on to identify the information you will need to collect, for
example, information from colleagues, quotes for external work, local
partnerships agreements, CV’s for the project delivery team.
Do not include marketing text, unless specifically asked too. This is often not
what markers are looking for. It is a common mistake that applicants talk too
much about their organisation and not about what they would like to do in
the project and what the funding/grant is for.
Do not make it harder for the marking team to read your submission – do not
waffle, make your answers concise and use bullet points for ease of marking
and understanding your responses, keep sentences short and punchy, be
consistent in your language and use of terminology, avoid weak qualifiers.
Do not make any assumptions; the marking team can only mark/evaluate
your submission on what is included in your submission.
Do not guess at costs of work and staff resources that will affect your
submission, state if costs include or exclude VAT, on-costs, overheads and if
you have based these costs on any assumptions.
Do not forget to include all the information that is required, including
additional supporting documents if necessary.
The tender documentation will always indicate the timescale of when you should hear back from
the Project Team. This timescale can slip due, for example the need to collect extra information to
be assessed in order to make a decision, a change in the funding/grant conditions or increased
number of applications causing a long evaluation process. The funder will always communicate
this with you and give an update of where your bid is up to.
Feedback to unsuccessful submissions is often not given automatically due to the volume of
applications the funder has received for each project.