What’s the most important part of your advocacy funding bid? What’s the one thing that will shape how your bid’s assessor rates the rest of it?
It’s how you begin it.
Because even in the world of bid writing first impressions matter most. A brilliant first impression casts the rest of your bid in a brilliant light. Whereas a dull opening condemns your reader to a duller experience, no matter how much your bid shines later on.
This massively affects your bid’s chances of being successful.
Your bid assessor has probably got fifty other bids to read today
Imagine your assessor reading your bid. They are likely to have a whole pile of them to get through. Depending on the quality and interest of those bids their attention is going to vary. They’re only human after all. This is bad for you though because it means that unless you stand out you’ll end up in the big ‘No’ pile.
The best way to stand out is right at the beginning. If you grab their interest at the start then you massively increase
your chances of getting more of your assessors energy and attention than the rest of the bids in their pile.
On the other hand, losing their attention at this point is the worst possible place to do so. If you lose it then even if the rest of your bid is brilliant you’re making your assessor work uphill, making you less likely to get the marks your bid deserves.
But if you do fire their synapses first and the rest of your bid is brilliant then you’ve just made the road to it’s recognition an easy one to travel. And if it’s easy and clear to travel then you’ll get more marks at the end.
How to create an explosion in your assessor’s mind
So, you want to drop them into your bid with a bang and get right to the point. That way you capture your assessors interest and pull them deeper into your bid. This takes a bit of creativity and a small dose of drama. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Ask a question
When you open your bid with a question you create curiosity and stimulate your assessor’s thinking. Thinking equals active engagement with your bid. Active engagement equals more chance of them rating you highly.
2. Cite a shocking statistic
What are the interesting statistics about the need you’re trying to meet? What’s the worst part of the problem and how many people does it affect? Using a unique or startling factoid in this way will generate an emotion and interest in your assessor. The statistic should be directly relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve.
3. Share an anecdote or quote that brings the problem to life
Telling a quick story about the problem you’re trying to solve can bring it so vividly to life that it immediately establishes empathy with your bid’s assessor. It shows that you’re in touch with the problem and that builds trust. Trust builds relationship which leads to deeper engagement with the rest of your bid. Similarly a quick quote from an authoritative source, followed by context linking it to your bid can also hold attention and build engagement in the same way.
4. Invoke the Mind’s Eye
Creating a vivid mental image in your assessor’s mind is the most powerful way to open your bid. All you need to do is actually asking them to use their mind’s eye. You can do this by using invitations like imagine or picture this e.g: “Let us take you on an imaginary journey three years into the future.”
5. Use analogy, metaphor or simile
Analogies, metaphors and similes are powerful because they stimulate mental imagery. Like anecdotes they can bring your problem vividly to life. They are also easy to engage with because they tell a story.
What to do when your application form won’t let you start how you want to
Sometimes your application form or tender questions won’t give you an opportunity to start with a bid summary or describe the problems you are trying to solve. Funders may ask you to describe your aims or talk about your organisation first. If that’s the case then you’ve got to be creative while still answering their question. Depending on the application and the nature of the proposal it’s not easy to predict how to always deliver a killer opening but there will always be a way. You’ve just got to be creative. Here’s an example of how you could do it if your first question asked “what is the aim of your project?”
Every year thousands of young people with learning disabilities have a negative experience of transitioning into adult services. The process can have devastating repercussions that last throughout adulthood. Our aim is to transform their experience so they become confident, empowered, and less service dependent adults.
Our project proposal will aim to improve the transitions experience of young people with learning disabilities. This will lessen the negative repercussions of transition that can last into adulthood. It will help them to have a better transitions experience so they become more confident, empowered and less service dependent.
Do you see the difference?
Hopefully by now you’ll be convinced of the sheer importance of your bid’s opening and you’ll have some good tricks to use the next time you write one.
Looking back, can you see the opening tricks used in this article’s content. Think about how you felt and how you reacted when you read them. Did they work for you? Let me know in the comments!