Top tips for applying for funds for a play project When you apply for financial backing, there is no such word as ‘no’ It’s important to see a ‘no’ from a potential funder as the beginning of the road that leads to ‘yes’. ‘No’ only means that your project does not match what the funder is looking to support right now. So never give up. Keep negotiating and return with slightly different bids, making sure it is clear that you’ve taken account of the decision makers’ reservations. When people doubt you, confront them with the reality of the project Explain how children are going to benefit from the play project – and how they will suffer if funds aren’t granted. Don’t be afraid to use emotionally moving arguments Be aware of how emotionally vulnerable adults can be. All adults were children, too, and they may feel it ended too soon. They will probably be naturally sympathetic to the fact that children need to play. Bring decision makers to the project so they can meet the children involved Children are the best salespeople of all. Allow them to show potential funders, journalists and government ministers around your play space. A child’s sense of ownership and involvement will help sell your play project far better than any adult! Don’t rely on a single source of funding The benefits of children’s play are complex and varied, so play won’t necessarily fit into one single funding category. Expect to get funding for your play project from a number of different places. Make sure funding overlaps so your project isn’t ever without financial support This will show your supporters and the public – and, most importantly, the children who use your play project – that what you’re providing is reliable and stable. Identify the people who will have an influence on the decision-making process Target these people – ask to meet them and keep notes about your contact with them. If you can get the support of people with influence, your play project is likely to seem more important and valued to the outside world. Make your fundraising appeal clear and fascinating People come across lots of appeals and offers. What can you do to make yours stand out? Is it likely to make people want to do something to support your play project straightaway? Be prepared to be a ‘social chameleon’ When a decision about funding is made, it will be based on the opinions of many different people. So, it’s important to behave respectfully to any potential funders, and to be friendly and polite to everyone who will have anything to do with the decision. Try to get into the mind of the grant giver or funder It is a good idea to work out what makes each funder decide about the grants they give. Try to get a feel for how each funder thinks – this will help you prepare an application with a stronger chance of success.