Good Application Tips
1: Understand the application process
The Emigrant Support Programme is run by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Dublin and applications come in from all over the world. In 2018 alone, there was over 490 applications from more than 20 countries requesting over €21 million worth of funding for the Programme's €11.6 million budget. It is important to understand then that the grant assessors are looking at many applications and looking to see where money can have the most impact and best meet the needs of different Irish communities.
It is therefore very important you clearly set out in your application why your project is worth funding and also how your work relates to the Emigrant Support Programme objectives. Make sure before you start your application that you read the Emigrant Support Programme overview.
In recent years, as competition has increased for funding, the grant assessors are looking more and more favourably on organisations that are collaborating with each other. Organisations working together can greatly improve the impact and efficiency of the funding that they receive and in 2019 there will be a particular focus on supporting these types of applications.
In writing applications you will be assessed on the following criteria:
- the need for the project
- beneficiaries in the Irish community (including second and later generations), including their needs and vulnerabilities
- the impact of the project based on clear expected outputs and outcomes
- partnerships with other statutory, voluntary and ESP-funded organisations to maximize service delivery to vulnerable Irish people
- how the outcomes will contribute to the achievement of ESP’s objectives
- the capacity of the organisation to deliver the project
- the total project cost and value for money offered
- what funding has been secured from other sources for the project
- the monitoring and evaluation systems in place to measure the outcomes for target beneficiaries
- commitment to good governance and best practice throughout the organisation (including e.g. financial management, fundraising strategy, inclusion policies and staff training and development)
2. Leave plenty of time to apply
Late applications will not be accepted so please ensure that you leave enough time to apply. There is little benefit in submitting a quick and ill prepared application that lacks clarity and supporting documents. Ill prepared applications are likely to take longer to progress and will reduce the likelihood of your organisation receiving the funding amount applied for.
Leave yourself plenty of time to develop you application and build in time to have it reviewed by other people in your organisation. Time spent at this stage will pay huge dividends over the course of the entire application process and will make it more likely that you will get the funding you have requested.
Write in stages. It is highly unlikely that you will finalise a grant application in one sitting. Draft the key points that you need to make in each section of your application before continuing with writing the more complex and important detail.
3: Read the application form requirements and follow them
Applications are assessed based on the online forms completed and a good application gives you the best chance of having the assessor understand why your project is worth funding. Make sure you give the correct information for each box in the application form. Make sure any numbers given make sense, have context and that they add up. The assessment forms are designed to gather specific information so it is important that you clearly provide the information that is requested, not just what you want to say.
Applications cannot be processed unless the necessary backing documents have also been submitted. Your organisation’s accounts are the most important supporting document and having the wrong accounts, old accounts, or accounts that do not correctly acknowledge previous year’s ESP funding, is a serious issue that will slow your application, or result in it being ineligible for consideration.
If you are applying for capital funding you must also remember to include three quotes and also a project plan and budget overview which clearly demonstrate that a significant portion of the cost of the project has been secured from sources other than the ESP.
4: Apply under the correct category
Know the categories under which you are applying. They are:
- Heritage - The promotion of Irish heritage and identity overseas.
- Welfare (Elderly) - Projects that are specifically targeted at the older members of the Irish community.
- Welfare (Other) - Projects involving the provision of front-line welfare services including advisory, counselling, information and outreach services to Irish communities.
- Networks - Projects to support: Irish business networks, or other Irish professional networks overseas.
- Capital - The construction, refurbishment or purchase of, capital assets benefitting Irish communities (website and large software/digital projects are included in the capital category).
If your project contains a mix of categories it may be that you should make two separate applications.
5: Write with clarity
Using plain and simple language in applications makes it easier for the assessor to understand the application and your work. In particular avoid jargon and keep your narrative concise. As the assessors only have your application to go on its important to make every word count and so clarity really is key.
Have others read your application before you send it in and ensure that what you write is clear and to the point. Having a good idea is not enough, you also need to show that you are a competent organisation that has the capacity to deliver (by highlighting relevant skills, organisational policies, codes of practice you adhere to, results of evaluations, etc).
6: Have well-defined objectives and metrics
Well defined objectives with identifiable outcomes underpin good applications, and when backed up by clear and realistic metrics, help make the best applications.
When setting your objectives make sure to concise and clear. Project objectives should be aligned to your organisation’s goals and the Emigrant Support Programme’s goals. In this way it should be clear how funding your project fits into the wider framework of supporting Irish communities worldwide.
Metrics are also vitally important and an example of good use of metrics is below:
“Our services are used predominately by the vulnerable older Irish community with Irish born men and women accounting for 73% of our clients. The last census indicated that our geographical catchment area has 23,000 Irish born individuals, 54% of them over 55. Our data shows that 67% of our clients are male and 33% female. We provided support for almost 8,000 individuals and the age profile of our clients is: 55% 65 and over 26% 55-64 14% 45-54 and 5% 0-44”.
When developing metrics it is also useful to align them to your goals. In order to do this you might ask yourself some questions, such as: What does project success look like? And how will you know when you’ve got there? What is the current situation? What does a realistic improvement/Impact look like?
7: Breakdown and justify your costs
Not providing a breakdown of costs and not justifying costs will slow down your application and reduce the likelihood of receiving funding. Justifying your cost can be done by developing clear and concise objectives and backing them up with a good narrative.
It is important that the funding you request and the overall estimated cost of the project are realistic and achievable. Projects will be evaluated at the end of the year based on estimates provided in the application form, so please do not oversell your project. Similarly if your project requires €20,000 do not apply for €40,000 on the basis that you will be given half of what you look for. In many clear and well supported cases we provide the full funding requested. A project will be considered to have underperformed if by year end only a small portion of the initial estimated cost has been spent or financed.
The breakdown of costs is essential so assessors can see how the funding applied for fits into the overall project costs. It also allows assessors to understand better how the project is financed and it makes assessing applications easier. Do not just request vague funding e.g. “£5,000 for St Patrick’s Day event” but instead breakdown the costs further e.g. “St Patrick’s Day event: £1,500 stage hire, £500 insurance, £500 lighting, £1,000 staff costs, £1,500 venue hire”.
8: Ensure what you’re applying for is eligible
While each application is considered on its merits, in general Emigrant Support Programme Funding cannot be used to fund:
- Artists’, performers’ or speakers’ fees, including travel and accommodation – professional or otherwise.
- Personal study or travel abroad.
- Repayments of loans or deficits.
- Party political activities.
- Commercially driven projects
- Costs of attending Embassy or Consulate events.
- Purchase of prizes for raffles.
- Membership fees for other ESP-funded organisations.