How To Be Successful In Securing Grant Funding
The relative easy part of running a community project is delivering service and the nightmare is securing grant funding. During recent years grant funding has become more difficult to access, partly because grant officers are becoming more risk averse and wanting more for their grants.
There are some simple tips for success in securing grants:
1.Have The Right Attitude
Life is not fair. Grant officers are pedantic. Silly forms with seemingly endless questions have to be answered. Get past the negative thoughts. Be positive. Tell yourself that you will be successful and you are partly there.
2.Find Funders To Suit Your Project
There are so many funders willing to give grants to community projects, so you have choices. Check the criteria that funders will fund and check your project meets the criteria. If you are not sure contact the funding organisation and ask for clarification. You might even get some tips and ideas to put into your project and application. If you do not think you will be successful find other funders. You could make a decision to submit an application to see what feedback you get that might be helpful for future submissions with other funders.
The National Lottery is a good source of funding for community projects based in the UK. Their guidance notes are helpful despite being a little too long. Some of the Lottery larger funds have a 2 stage application process as is the case with some other funders. Do not let this put you off. The Lottery grant officers provide good feedback that could prove useful even if you have been unsuccessful.
As mentioned above, there are so many funders, so look at the options available to you. Grant Keys will be publishing regular updates regarding funding opportunities at www.grantkeys.com along with tips and ideas.
3.Prove There Is A Demand For Your Service
Do some thorough research related to your service and by that I do not mean ask current users of your service if there is a need for it. Grant officers will not just accept that as a credible response.
Get on to the internet, go to your local authority website and look at their strategic plans that relate to your service. Speak to local authority officers about your service. You may get some tips.
Find studies that may have been carried out by a university related to your project idea. You may find some interesting statistics to quote. You may also find ideas that will develop your project further. Also look at national strategies for evidence of need and statistics to support your application.
Do your own market research. Make it structured so that you can easily analyse the responses. Arrange forums and offering food / lunch / tea will help to get good attendances. Record the outcomes and critically analyse the results. If you do not find results that are helpful then analyse what you did in your marketing research. Check whether or not your approach was too specific or too vague or is the project not needed.
Demonstrate to grant officers that your project is well planned. Explain clearly what you are going to do and how you will be organised. By that you need to show who has responsibility for which tasks, what you will need and when goals will be achieved. Have systems in place that can be used to demonstrate the success of your project during the lifetime of the funding and beyond. Grant officers do not have the time to regularly visit your service and observe how you are performing, so they rely on funded organisations good information systems.
Ensure that there are regular, documented meetings where decisions are made. Have policies and procedures in place that are adhered to. Often funders will ask for copies of policies to be submitted with the application form. The internet is a good source for adapting policies or you could contact your local voluntary sector support service who can provide you good examples.
Understand good project management principles. Most are common sense. This does not mean that you have to use masses of documentation to function. Good project management systems will help to secure funding and will also improve the management and efficiency of your organisation.
Make sure that you are thorough in working out the cost of running your project. Ask for written quotations from potential suppliers. Never guess how much you will need. You might save time during the application submission stage and struggle to meet the needs of the project if you are successful.
6.Show How Your Project Will Make A Difference
Funders expect organisations to demonstrate how a grant will make a difference to individuals, communities, organisations and / or environments often referred to as outcomes. Successful applicants will have confirmed how achieved outcomes can be evidenced and meet the funding criteria. It sounds complicated when in actual fact this is your chance to show off how much progress will be made a result of your project. Focus on the positives and do not just repeat the outcomes stated in the funding guidance of the grant giver. Include milestones that are measurable and easily reported.
7.Answer The Questions Asked
This is stating the obvious, however sometimes it is difficult to answer questions. Often in these circumstances, unsuccessful applicants answer the question they would have preferred. Do not be tempted to do the same. Get some help if need be. Talk to colleagues and funders, look at the project you are planning to delivery and ask if this is the right project or the right funder. Sometimes it might just be writers block, and if time allows take time away from the application form and return to it at another time, even if you leave it for an hour.
Try to submit applications as part of a team. Include as many people as you can. Teamwork will help to ensure that your application is well written, explains clearly what your projects aims to deliver, and meets the criteria of the funding organisation. If your submission is a solo effort still ask colleagues to check your work. It is not a weakness or embarrassing to ask people to proof read your funding application form. It is essential. Aim to submit the best quality application you possibly can with as much help as you are able to access.
This information is just a guide on how to tackle funding applications. Grant Keys aims to support community projects to flourish and hopes these tips are useful.