5/6 - Considering External Support


CONSIDERING EXTERNAL SUPPORT you need to understand some of the key considerations of commissioning and working with third parties in the context of writing a funding application.

This task focuses on the consideration of commissioning and working with external service providers during the writing process of an application. While it is not advisable to commission the writing of the whole application to third parties, an engagement of external expertise for some parts of the writing process can be of advantage. For example, when human resources are stretched, when your organisation has a lack of experience, or when you need to receive independent feedback and specialist know-how.





It consists of a range of tools that aim to assist the process of commissioning and managing external service providers;

  1. A table with key headings of a call document.
  2. A checklist for organising the administrative process.
  3. An example of assessment criteria and scoring system.






Who is the tool for?

When should the tool be used?

Funding Strategy Coordinator/Team

Application Writing Leader

Selection Panel Members

The tools should be used shortly after the decision has been made to seek external support and until a preferred service provider has been appointed



Click on the stations to navigate throught the Application line!


Application line step 1Application line step 2Application line step 3Application line step 4Application line step 5Application line step 6Application line step 7


Key challenges of this step

  • The need to organise, manage and coordinate the external service provider can reduce the expected human resource efficiencies of commissioning the work.
  • The assessment and selection process of the preferred bidder needs to be conducted as objectively as possible. A good balance should be achieved between high levels of experience and the ability to work well with you.
  • Everyone involved in the assessment and selection of the provider needs to be fully aware of the assessment criteria and the scoring system. If people fail to understand how scores are defined and what you are looking for from the provider, the quality of the selection process will be low.
  • The composition of the selection panel should not be dominated by an individual, each panel member needs to have the freedom to express their thoughts.
  • Establishing a close working relationship with the external service provider is essential. There is a need for regular meetings to provide the necessary briefing about the project, to share relevant information and to ensure that the service provider is producing the outputs you are expecting. Efficient communication and good coordination skills are required by your organisation to benefit most from your provider.

Main risks

  • If you decide to commission the writing of the entire funding application to an external service provider, the risk is that you could encounter considerable challenges when winning the bid. This is particularly the case when your organisation needs to implement a project, but your staff is unfamiliar with the project, its implementation logic and operational detail. This could potentially lead to issues with the funder, and most likely to project management issues.
  • If you don't coordinate and manage the external service provider well, the risk is high of loosing control of the application writing process and/or encountering problems with the cohesiveness of the application.

Helpful tips

  • When selecting tender documents, ensure that at least two members of the Selection Panel read, assess and score the same tender individually to avoid bias.
  • Although desireable, there is no need for each member of the Selection Panel to read, assess and score all of the submitted tenders. This is particularly the case when you have received a lot of tenders. In this case, divide them up and allocate a more manageable number of tenders to each Panel Members, while ensuring that each tender is read by at least two panelists.
  • The best role for external service providers is to provide a hand-holding service whereby you/your team is writing the funding application and the external service provider is providing feedback, training, and advice for improvement. In this way, you and your team will gain know-how and capacities for any future funding application round.
  • Once commissioned, the external service provider needs to be thoroughly briefed about the project and frequent meetings with the project design team will need to be held to ensure that the third party is well informed about the project and you about his/her work.
  • A further excellent role for the involvement of third parties is to undertake the review/quality check or pre-appraisal of the final draft funding application. This will ensure that your application is pre-assessed by an experienced outsider. In this case, take greatest care that the external service provider has an in-depth knowledge of the fund and the assessment criteria of the funder.
  • Managing external service providers and ensuring that they are writing a funding application in line with your project idea requires a dedicated allocation of human resources.