A beginner’s guide to securing funding

At Catalyst we are often approached to assist businesses with obtaining funding. We can help you, but there are some easy things you can do to make the process easier.  Here’s a simple guide to securing funding, so you can give yourself a head start to putting together a successful proposal.

  1. Have a good project – like, a really good one. Securing funding or investment is a competitive process so you need to stand out from the crowd. Talk to people in that space who can provide constructive feedback and give you a reality check on how good your idea really is. Engage with key stakeholders and validate your thinking – is it really worth pursuing?
  2. If the answer is yes, great. If you plan to go ahead, ensure you have good relationship with the people or organisations you will partner with and include them early. It’s no good contacting them the week the proposal is due asking them for their support or to agree to co-funding.
  3. Cash is king. These days very little is 100% funded so you’re going to need some cash. The more cash co-funding you have, the better. In-kind is okay, but cash is a much bigger indicator of commitment. If you’re having trouble getting people to invest cash you might need to re-visit step one – how good is your idea?
  4. Data is gold. It’s important to build robust analysis and numbers into your proposal. Reviewers and funders get tired of reading about the ‘significant and ground breaking’ in the absence of real numbers. Think about your market and users, what your costs might look like, what would you sell it for and how many do you expect to sell? For a start, ballpark figures are better than nothing.
  5. Hook them in. Have a compelling narrative – people need to ‘get it’, so you must tell your story well from the start. Get to the point quickly and tell your story in an engaging way. Scientific methodology makes for a tiresome read for a busy reviewer or would-be funder.
  6. Plan ahead. The secret to a good proposal is proper preparation and planning. Think months ahead – if you want to involve Catalyst, more time results in a better, more convincing and readable proposal. Often it’s a significant amount of money you’re asking for, so you need to put in the time and effort.
  7. Engage with the funder. Take the time to know the rules, both written and unwritten. It’s important to know what’s important to the funder and form a relationship, so you get the wider context. It’s the funder that matters and they want a successful outcome, should they invest, and they need to have confidence that you will deliver.


  • Here’s something to get started with - The latest grants to open for funding are the Callaghan Innovation R&D Experience Grants. These are open for a limited time, closing June 16, and you can apply for a request for proposal through their website.


At Catalyst we’re more than happy to help you with any of the steps in this process. We can advise on what funding is coming up and when. If you’d like more information please contact Malcolm Garnham. Good luck!

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