A Beginner s Guide to Successfully Securing Grant Funding

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1 A Beginner s Guide t Successfully Securing Grant Funding Intrductin There is a wide range f supprt mechanisms ut there in the funding wrld, including grants, lans, equity investments, award schemes and many mre. At first glance it may seem impssible t wrk yur way thrugh the funding maze, and even when yu have fund the right surce f supprt, there is n guarantee that yu will successfully secure the funding yu require. In an ideal wrld, yu wuld draw up yur prject prpsal, identify the apprpriate funding bdy, cmplete the applicatin frm, btain yur funding and start wrk n yur prject! Unfrtunately, the reality is that the demand fr funding is high and cmpetitin is fierce. Making yurself stand ut frm the crwd is a must t ensure success! The aim f this article is t address the issue f successfully securing grants, frm finding the right awarding bdy, t cmpleting applicatin frms and where t g fr extra help. What are Grants? A grant is a great way t get a prject ff the grund and is pssibly the best surce f funding available. There is n interest t be paid and funds are generally nn-returnable (except in exceptinal circumstances, where grant terms and cnditins are nt met). Grants are ften referred t as free mney, but there are usually a number f strings attached. Anyne wh has ever tried t secure a grant will be familiar with the fact that grants are ntriusly difficult t get. It is hard wrk cnvincing the awarding bdy that yu deserve such supprt, and a cnsiderable amunt f effrt and time is invlved in making an applicatin. Grants are prvided by a myriad f surces, and may cme frm central, reginal and lcal gvernment, the Eurpean Cmmissin, r varius ther natinal and lcal bdies such as Reginal Develpment Agencies, charities and cmmunity fundatins. It is imprtant t find the right grant befre starting wrk n yur applicatin, as yu may be wasting yur time and that f the awarding bdy. As such, it is essential t keep infrmed abut the grants that are available t yu. Grants are cntinuusly being intrduced and, as there is n easy way t keep n tp f such infrmatin, GRANTfinder is here t help yu untangle yur way ut f the funding web. What are Applicatin Frms? This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 1

2 Applicatin frms are the means by which applicants can cmmunicate with the funding bdy. It is, quite simply, the methd f telling the funder wh yu are, what yu are ding, what yu need the mney fr, and generally presenting yur case fr their supprt. Mst funders will request written cmmunicatin f sme kind t enable them t cnsider a particular prject, whether it be an applicatin frm, a letter r reprt with a set f defined questins, r a free-frm letter r reprt where grups simply apply in writing and have t make their wn assumptins as t what the funder is lking fr. Whilst applicatin frms and prcedures vary, there are a number f cmmn pints regarding the infrmatin funders require. What are Funders Lking fr? In mst cases, qualificatin fr grant assistance is dependent n fur criteria: lcatin; type f rganisatin; size; and prject purpse. Lcatin Eligibility fr funding schemes, n matter what the type f rganisatin, is usually dependent in part n the lcatin f the activity fr which funding is being sught. Fr example, a cuncil may wish t encurage business start-up prjects within its bundary as benefits may be derived in terms f jb creatin and imprvements t the lcal ecnmy. Sme areas f the UK are lked upn mre favurably than thers, fr example a prject may be eligible fr a special grant if it is creating a business in an ecnmically disadvantaged area with high unemplyment, such as areas suffering industrial decline r where traditinal industries have cllapsed (prime examples being the cal, steel and fishing industries), and als sme urban and rural areas. Type f rganisatin Althugh many grants are available acrss all sectrs, sme activities such as the arts, crafts, turism, agriculture and ther specialist interests may be targeted fr additinal funding. Size Grants may be aimed at businesses r grups f a certain size, emplying a minimum r maximum number f peple, targeting grwing businesses as ppsed t self-emplyed individuals r large, well-established rganisatins. Prject Purpse Finally, ne f the mst significant factrs fr the qualificatin f grant assistance is the fcus f the prpsed prject r activity. This may be n research and develpment, exprting, envirnmental imprvements, cmmunity develpment, rural diversificatin, r training and skills develpment. It is, therefre, imprtant t explain what it is yu want the mney fr, being clear abut the intended utcmes f yur prject. Many schemes will nt fund day-t-day running expenses, but are happy t help fund identified csts. Match Funding T reach yur specified funding target, it may be necessary t match fund csts by applying t mre than ne funding surce, r t supplement grants by utilising yur wn budget r incme. Whilst This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 2

3 sme funds ffer financial aid f up t 100% f the csts, yu may need t demnstrate written cnfirmatin f assistance frm additinal surces. This can be quite cmmn when searching fr supprt, s d nt make the assumptin that yu will need nly ne surce t meet yur ttal funding requirements. Match funding can cause significant prblems when attempting t synchrnise the funding t fit the timescale f yur prject. Sme funders may nt perate within the April t March financial year, and yur prject may end up wrking t tw r mre timescales. This issue can, hwever, be slved quite easily by planning yur prject in stages (eg September-March and April-July). Furthermre, funding bdies may accept in-kind cntributins as part f match funding. This prvisin is particularly useful fr small-scale cmmunity-based prjects that may nt attract the necessary matching investment in cash, but will receive assistance in nn-financial supprt. In-kind cntributins may take the frm f equipment r materials, research r prfessinal supprt, an interest in land r buildings, r unpaid vluntary wrk. Where an in-kind cntributin takes the frm f unpaid vluntary wrk, yu may need t assess the nature and scale f the wrk (this culd include valuatins, timesheets etc) prvided by the vlunteer, in rder t calculate an apprpriate value f their wrk and cnvince the funding bdy that such assistance can be accepted as match funding. Meeting the Funders Objectives It is imprtant t be abslutely clear abut why yu are seeking funding and, if yur applicatin is ging t stand a chance, yu must make sure that it meets the bjectives f the funder. When yu receive the guidelines frm the spnsring bdy, read them very carefully. If yu are still unsure, it is always better t cntact them t discuss yur prject - in fact, sme funders prefer this apprach. This can save yu a lt f time and effrt, as it desn t matter hw gd yu think yur prject is, if yu fail t meet the criteria and requirements f the funder, there is n pint in applying in the first place. When writing an applicatin, try t see it frm the funder s perspective. Make sure yu answer every questin, write as cncisely and as accurately as pssible, and d nt make assumptins abut what the funding bdy may r may nt knw abut yur prject r rganisatin. Paint a simple and understandable picture f yur prject and, mst imprtantly, try t keep it free frm technical terms and jargn, r any phrases that a laypersn will nt understand. If yu d have t use such terms, ensure that yu define them first. Are Yu Ready t Make an Applicatin? Befre yu make an applicatin, lk at the set-up f yur rganisatin. Is it well run? Sme rganisatins are mre successful at securing grants due t their cmmitment, hard wrk and, abve all, the reputatin they have built fr delivering results. It is essential that yu demnstrate that yur rganisatin: - is reputable and efficiently run; - has a clear and specific visin f what it wishes t d, hw it aims t achieve its gals, and the benefits/differences that will be derived frm the prject fr its target grup; - has a strng management cmmittee that is dedicated and demcratic; - has finances that are regulated and in rder; - has a lng-term business plan if it is a cmpany; - has a gd, clear and precise understanding f the prject and its purpse; This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 3

4 - is aware f, and cmplies with, any legislatin in relatin t the prject, such as and Health and Safety, Child Prtectin Act, Equal Opprtunities, and even necessary planning cnsents etc. When cmpleting an applicatin frm, make sure that yu give a few details and backgrund infrmatin abut yur rganisatin. As discussed abve, funders ften decide n whether t award grant aid nt just n the prpsed prject, but als n hw credible an rganisatin is. A prject may be apprved, but funders ften decline applicatins if there appears t be a risk where the rganisatin is cncerned. T prevent this frm happening, try t give a brief accunt f hw and why yur grup/rganisatin was started, hw it is run, what area it cvers, what eths it is based n, what additinal supprt it has in place etc. Basically, give the funder an insight int the type and breadth f wrk that yu are currently capable f. It is essential t emphasise the fact that yur rganisatin is well run. D yu have a management cmmittee/bard with the skills t gvern yur prject respnsibly, and d they share the same interests? D yu have a cnstitutin setting ut yur aims and bjectives? If yu are applying fr public r charitable mney, funders will require evidence that there are sufficient systems in place t prevent grants frm being used fr private gain. Making a Successful Applicatin There is n right r wrng way t make a grant applicatin, but it is pssible t increase yur chances f successfully securing a grant by taking the fllwing aspects int accunt: 1. Demnstrate a need fr yur prject. 2. Shw that yur prject is well planned. 3. Accurately cst yur prject. 4. Prvide evidence f gd management. 5. Illustrate hw the prject will make a difference. 1. Demnstrate a need fr yur prject In a lt f cases, applicatins are rejected because funders d nt believe that there is a need fr the prject, r because they are nt persuaded that yur idea will slve a particular prblem r is what peple want. Ask yurself the fllwing questins: What needs d yur target grup have? Hw d yu knw that they have such needs? Why is it imprtant that these needs are met? Hw will yur prpsed prject fulfil thse needs? Need can cver a number f aspects such as unemplyment levels, a lack f educatinal achievement, crime levels etc. T demnstrate the extent f yur target grup s need, yu must have facts and figures t supprt yur case. Yu culd use statistics frm a recgnised surce r cnduct yur wn survey/ questinnaire asking peple abut their views - this can be particularly useful if yu are seeking funding fr a smaller prject. If yu are lking fr finance fr a large prject, yu may need t carry ut a fully csted appraisal and shw that yu have researched the varius ways yu can meet the need, indicating which ptin yu have chsen and why. This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 4

5 It is imprtant, hwever, nt t rely slely n statistics t paint a picture f yur prject. Bring in the human aspect wherever pssible t cmmunicate t the awarding bdy what the situatin is like fr yur target grup, such as including qutes frm clients. Overall, make sure it is clear t the funder that yu have dne yur hmewrk and researched yur prject! 2. Shw that yur prject is well planned Funders will always want t see evidence that yur prject is well planned. T d this, yu must specify the main aspects that will help t achieve yur aims and make yur prject pssible. Yu must tell the spnsr: - what it is yu are ging t d; - what difference yur prject will make in terms f benefits t yur target grup; - when and where yur prject is ging t happen; - hw yu are ging t carry ut yur prject and what yu need t d it (ie equipment, premises, staff); - wh will be respnsible fr cnducting the prject; and - hw yu are ging t measure whether yur prject has achieved its aims and made a difference. Frm the funder s pint f view, it is essential that applicants shw that they are serius and will be able t successfully deliver prjects, n matter hw gd a prpsal it appears t be n paper. Mst spnsring bdies will nt give ut grants simply fr a gd cause. They will want evidence f relevant research and frward planning in accrdance with the amunt f mney being requested and the type f wrk. Fr example, a grup lking fr mney t buy a few pieces f equipment may nly need t supply a cuple f qutes, while an rganisatin wanting new premises r additinal staff may need t prvide cash-flw prjectins, a business plan, jb descriptins, planning cnsents etc. Essentially, the mre mney yu want and the mre risky yur activity, the mre wrk, planning and evidence yu will need! 3. Accurately cst yur prject Once yu have devised yur prject plan yu will need t calculate hw much mney yu require t enable yu t carry it ut, justifying the amunt yu have requested. It may be that yu draw up a budget fr yur rganisatin s wrk as a whle, a separate budget fr a particular activity, r a single figure fr a ne-ff item f equipment. Whatever yu require funding fr, when drawing up a budget yu shuld include all aspects f yur prject - even the hidden csts like salaries/cst f the staff invlved in the administratin f yur prject, premises and related expenditure (rates/rent/fuel), cmmunicatins (telephne/pstage), and any travel r training. Make sure that yu d nt guess what the csts may be, but get estimates r qutes t illustrate hw yu have wrked the csts ut. Yu culd even review what yu have spent in previus years r lk at the accunts f ther rganisatins that have carried ut similar activities in the past t give yu an idea f the value. Always remember - dn t ver r under-estimate yur prject csts. Be as realistic as pssible! And, at the same time as telling the funder hw much yu need and what the funding will be used fr, make sure that yu tell them ver what perid f time the prject is likely t run. 4. Prvide evidence f gd management This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 5

6 Funding bdies will always want t see evidence f gd management and that yur rganisatin is capable f delivering the prject. It is extremely imprtant that yu have efficient prcedures fr the handling f finances within yur rganisatin (ie a gd bkkeeping system and prperly prepared accunts) and that yu can prvide evidence that yu will be able t accunt fr the mney that is given t yu. In additin, funders will als lk at the plicies that an rganisatin has in place, including Health and Safety, emplyment, child prtectin and equal pprtunities. 5. Illustrate hw the prject will make a difference With any grant applicatin, funders will always want t knw that the grant they have prvided is making a lng-term difference t the lives f the peple benefiting frm the activity. They need t be sure that the mney they are giving is being spent wisely. As such, the awarding bdy is interested in the psitive utcmes derived frm the assistance they are ffering, and its significance t the beneficiaries rather than t the applying rganisatin. The grant schemes prevalent in tday s funding wrld strngly highlight this pint. Fr example, funding fr a new sprts centre will nt be ffered simply t prvide better facilities fr its members; it must lead t further benefits fr the cmmunity as a whle, such as pening up facilities t the general public and integrating the disadvantaged int the cmmunity. It is essential that yu emphasise yu are wrking with the cmmunity and that their views and needs are taken int accunt within yur prject plans. When appraching the subject f hw yur prject will make a difference within yur applicatin, think laterally. Take a step back frm what yur prject is actually ding and lk at what impact it might have n the cmmunity, envirnment and/r lcal ecnmy as a whle. This way yu are mre likely t meet the aims and bjectives f the funder, and thus increase yur chances f securing the funding yu desire. Once yu have been awarded a grant, a large number f funding bdies will wish t see infrmatin illustrating hw yu are achieving yur aims and hw yur prject is prgressing. Mst funders will expect t see prject mnitring and a number f measurable utputs t enable them t assess hw successful their investment has been, and t judge whether a grup/prject is really making a difference. Again, mnitring is very time-cnsuming but very imprtant. It may require a wrker t keep a recrd f what has been achieved against what was planned, such as a recrd f hw many peple attended an event, hw many phne calls were received, hw many jbs were created etc. Mnitring can even include methds such as interviews, questinnaires r surveys t determine hw peple r their views have changed since the implementatin f yur prject. Yu must think abut mnitring at the planning stages f yur prject and try nt t leave it until yu get yur grant. Set specific targets that yu want t measure r milestnes that yu want t reach, and make a decisin abut hw yu are ging t measure whether yu have achieved them. This will als shw funders that yu really d care abut yur prject and the difference it will make. Presentatin This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 6

7 As well as the cntent f yur applicatin, the layut and presentatin is vital. Make the structure stand ut by using clearly defined titles and subtitles, with cnsistent use f capital letters, bld and underlined text etc, and select a fnt that is easy t read and makes the best use f space. This way the reader can fllw where they are in an applicatin immediately frm the appearance n the page. Als, always be aware that infrmatin can ften be presented in a mre helpful and easy-tunderstand manner in tables, graphics r figures rather than in text. If an applicatin frm specifies hw yu must cmplete it, make sure yu duble check that yu have beyed all rules and instructins with regard t frmat, headings, enclsures, signatures etc, as yu will get a lt f credit fr simply fllwing instructins! In additin, try t pay attentin t detail. Get the name f the individual and the funding bdy right (including the spelling) by ringing t enquire wh yu shuld address yur applicatin t. By aviding statements like T whm it may cncern r Dear sir/madam, yu are letting the funder knw that yu have made the effrt t find ut abut them. Why are Applicatins Unsuccessful? One f the main reasns prpsals are unsuccessful is because they have been submitted t the wrng funding scheme in the first place. It is cmmn fr peple t spend t much time n writing the prpsal and nt enugh time n analysing the key features f a prgramme. Rather than attempting t make yur prpsal fit int the frmat and eligibility criteria required, identify the mst apprpriate scheme and spend time prducing a well structured prpsal with key aims that are aligned with the prgramme s funding bjectives. As discussed earlier, it is ften the case that many funding prviders d nt have sufficient budgets t meet all requests fr funding due t the increasing number f applicants wh apprach them fr supprt. It is, therefre, a gd idea t be familiar with the cmmn reasns why funding bdies reject applicatins, in rder t prevent such issues frm arising. The mst prevailing factrs include the fllwing: Applicants fail t illustrate why their prject is needed, and d nt make their plans explicit and cncise n their applicatin frm. The prject is prly planned and there is n indicatin f what the mney will be spent n. The funder s guidelines have nt been examined accurately and applicatins fail t demnstrate that they fulfil the criteria. Applicants budget inaccurately and d nt display gd financial management. It is nt shwn that the rganisatin is well managed and is capable f successfully running the prject, including effective mnitring and evaluatin f the activity. Where t G fr Help T help yu find the right grant scheme t suit yur prject needs and fr assistance with cmpleting applicatin frms, there are a number f resurces available t assist yu. Once yu have fund the funding scheme yu are lking fr, there is withut dubt, n better place t g fr help than t the awarding bdy! Alternatively, the best prt f call is t lk fr supprt at a lcal level like yur nearest lcal develpment agency, fr example Rural Cmmunity Cuncils and Cuncils fr Vluntary Service. Lcal develpment agencies ffer a number f supprt services and This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 7

8 practical assistance. Business Links and reginal Develpment Agencies are als excellent rganisatins t apprach fr help, as are lcal cuncils. If they are unable t help, they will usually pint yu in the directin f smene wh can. If yur prject is relating t a specific theme such as art r sprt, yu culd btain guidance frm agencies cncerned with yur activity, fr example, the Arts Cuncils, Sprt England and Sprtsctland, r the Sprts Cuncils fr Wales and Nrthern Ireland. T Cnclude Overall, there is n right r wrng way t cmplete an applicatin frm, but bearing in mind the issues discussed in this article may increase yur chances f success. Furthermre, next time yu are cmpleting an applicatin, use GRANTfinder s tp tips: Get infrmed! Make sure yu find ut what supprt is available t yu. Refrain frm starting yur prject befre applying. Apply as sn as pssible. Needs - des yur prject prpsal match the spnsr s bjectives? Talk t the awarding bdy t get their advice befre yu apply fr assistance. Frm a prject/business plan. Mst grant applicatins will require ne. Imaginatin! Cnsider all angles f yur prject. Think laterally! Need match funding? If s, make sure yu have the funds available. Demnstrate that yur prject cannt prceed withut assistance. Ensure yur applicatin is in respect f yur prject. T cnclude, treat applicatins fr grant assistance as yu wuld a jb applicatin and include the same level f detail. Ensure that yu are addressing the criteria fully and make yur applicatin memrable. If yu can, refrain frm sending yur applicatin ut straightaway. Ask smene else t read ver it t see if it makes sense, r give yurself plenty f time t cmplete it and then leave it t blssm. When yu lk at it with fresh eyes, ideas might spring t mind which yu had nt previusly thught f r yu might pick things up that culd be re-wrded t get yur pint acrss better. It might even help t put yurself in the shes f the funder and imagine it is yur mney. Wuld yu be cnvinced by yur applicatin? And finally, gd luck with yur applicatins! This infrmatin is meant as a starting pint nly. Whilst all reasnable effrts have been made, the publisher makes n warranties that the infrmatin is accurate and up-t-date and will nt be respnsible fr any errrs r missins in the infrmatin nr any cnsequences f any errrs r missins. Prfessinal advice shuld be sught where apprpriate. Published by GRANTfinder Ltd If yu have any feedback r queries please cntact us: Tel: (01909) Website: This dcument is cpyright f GRANTfinder Ltd, Enterprise Huse, Carltn Rad, Wrksp, S81 7QF 8


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