So, in the spirit of making my life slightly more colourful, I’ve pulled together my list of things I look at when reading grant applications. There will be resources out there to help people pull their information together, but from what I’ve been seeing recently, they aren’t getting read!
When writing an application, a key thing is to think of the end user: why would the person reading this application think your project was worth investing real money in.
- Put some cash in yourself. If you are looking for at a community project, it’s good to show some skin in the game. This should involve either using some of your own reserves, or involve some funding from your community – good old quiz nights, auctions and the like. It could involve a spot of labour as well: volunteer time which can be costed into your project if they are actually doing work like painting. I like proactive communities. It also helps get that sense of ownership within your community: which should translate to better maintenance and pride.
- Look to leverage your community. If you are in an area where there are not many jobs, can your building project provide training opportunities for young people in the area? I know that Health and Safety can be a reason not to do this stuff, but perhaps you can work with someone who might try?
- For a capital project, figure out you will manage the project in an ongoing manner. Who owns it? Whose responsible for maintenance? Where will you fund that from? Or will it earn you an income?
- Get people to endorse your project. This can include the local MP and district council, and potential users of the facility. This shows that there is some wide spread support from the community. However, these need to be more than simple “great idea” endorsements. For example, if a school is a potential user of the asset, it’s helpful to understand where they see this project within their overall priorities. People doing the endorsement should ask themselves whether this project is the most effective spend of money within their community.
- Offer up a quick “competitor” analysis. Sometimes it’s hard to understand the micro role of the organisation within the context of the larger community. For example, is it the only community space in the area? What other clubs are around? What do they charge? Why is your organisation different from the others in that space?
- How many people use your facility? Are they regular users: is that 100 of the same people every week, or different people every week? Are you a dying club? Be honest: will a dollop of cash just hold back the inevitable? What’s the role of fees within your organisation? Why can’t you put them up? How often are you busy?
- Budget up the whole project, and then break it down for the specific bit you want the funder to fund. This helps to understand who else is involved, and where the money for the project is coming from.
- Baby steps. Prove that you can do what you want to do by starting small. This shows that you can deliver, and that you do have community buy in. A funder is unlikely to hand over large wads of cash to an unknown entity.
- Who do you collaborate with? Reinvention of the wheel is a fairly common thing – you should try to show that you know best practice, and how you would leverage this. Can you find a mentor in another part of the country who can help you?
- Think of how you are governed. Look beyond the family and friends. Find people who will disagree and challenge you – in a productive manner of course!
There are an awful lot of community projects and groups out there all looking for money. If you are going to get support, then the project needs to stand out. A good application will have more information than the funder actually asks, and should demonstrate genuine community need verses committee want. It should show where the project fits strategically within the community, and how you make the world a better place.
Would love to talk with you if you think this is just a little bit interesting.