How do you get funding for your community project?


We held our monthly live discussion over on the Just Act Forum yesterday (21 August). Our topic was ‘how to get funding for your community project’ and we really enjoyed all of the great advice and tips that came up.

We also had some specialist opinions in the discussion – we were joined by James from the Communities team at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and Rebekah from the Research team at the Community Development Foundation (CDF).

You can read the discussion, in full, here. Or keep reading for the discussion’s highlights.

How to impress funders

medal5James: Most funders will be marking your application against set criteria, such as value for money, but also what they see to be the social/community impact of the project.

Duncan: Be positive and show that you really do have something to contribute to the group that you say you are serving. Grab every bit of publicity that you can. It’s amazing how that impresses funders. We are mentioned in a publication by the Cabinet Office – it’s actually about a stream of funding that they have introduced, but we and our work are the main illustration.

Rich: A simple thing, but as many people involved in as many ways as possible – posters at workplaces, flyers to friends, regular social media push, word of mouth, local press, basically just push it everywhere you can!

Tips for writing great grant applications

pen19Karina: I usually give people who come to us with a project idea looking for funding a basic template with [some] questions.

Just Act top tip: Karina’s template has now been added to Step 6 of our 10 steps, click here to find out more.

James: It sounds obvious, but make sure that you read the eligibility criteria properly! But really it’s about making sure that you’ve answered the question that the funder is asking (which is often different to what you want to say).

Rebecca: A key part of our funding application was showing how we involved local people – a friend applied to the same pot and was asked for further information about how she knew it was something that people in the area wanted.

Finding out about funding opportunities

black218Duncan: Use the local Council for Voluntary Services – they often have a specialist there who will point you in the right direction. Probably the most useful is to be on the emailing list of NCVO … Worth its weight in gold and costs nothing!

Kerry-Anne: O2 Think Big have a fantastic funding opportunity for small projects. They’ll provide £300 on a prepaid debit card to “fund” a young person’s project idea … Just go to the Think Big website and fill out the application letting them know about the project!

Getting funding from businesses

businessmen26Rich: We’re looking at getting more local businesses to sponsor us [for our theatre festival in Hull]. This could be in the form of their logo on the programme, or signage at the event itself. Local businesses provided mainly financial funding, but Hull Truck Theatre and Hull University were festival partners, providing in-kind support of access to spaces, people and publicity.

Jennifer: We have found it really hard work to get businesses engaged, probably not helped by the fact that the charity launch coincided with the recession so businesses were anxious about price hikes and looking uncompetitive. But those businesses that are engaged have become loyal supporters.

Jennifer: I’m a trustee of Sea-Changers, a marine conservation charity that uses a ’round-up’ approach to raise funds from business for marine conservation. We ask businesses that have a vested interest in the marine environment (surf schools, yacht marinas, cruise companies etc.) to ask customers at point of purchase if they would like to either round up the payment or add a suggested donation on the payment. This money is then paid to Sea-Changers which allocates grants to mainly small marine conservation projects.

Being unsuccessful in your applications

man27Karina: The times we have been unsuccessful has been because we didn’t meet all of the funders’ criteria or they were oversubscribed … So we try to look for funding that fits our projects and not come up with projects that might fit funders, if you see what I mean. That makes it easier.

Duncan: You WILL be unsuccessful. Partly because inevitably one asks the wrong people, but mainly because of the shortage of funds around and the pressures on the funders. One said that the success rate for them was 0.3% of applications! However, if you build up your relationships and track record, use every bit of publicity that you can, and get permission to quote leaders of different types … then you stand a chance! *

How Crowdfunding can raise money for your project

crowdRebekah: I suppose the best bit of advice is that Crowdfunding can work for community groups but you need to be very clear on what your project is, what message you are getting across to supporters and be prepared to spend time and energy continuously promoting it.

Rebekah: Crowdfunding projects that we heard of that were unsuccessful were ones that just set up a page and expected the money to roll in. Many projects reflected that they were unsuccessful because they didn’t put the time and effort into shouting about their project.

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*amended 26/08/2014
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