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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Voluntary and community groups - applying for funding

If you are part of a voluntary or community-based organisation you may be eligible to apply for a grant or a funding opportunity.

Where can you find out more?

You can apply for grants at a local, national and European level. One place to start is Funding Central. You can do a guided search through Funding Central to find details of finance and funding opportunities that your organisation can apply for.

The site also has support and advice on different sources of income and provides tools to help you make better funding applications.

Find out about local government funding

Your local council should also be able provide you with information about community-based funding that may apply to your organisation. Many councils will have a number of funding opportunities, ranging from small to medium occurring on an annual basis.

The following link will let you enter details of where you live and then take you to your local council's website where you can find out more.

Funding for arts-related projects

If you are looking for more than £1000 funding for an arts-related project (whether as an individual or community group), you could apply to Arts Council England. Use the link ‘Grants for the arts’ to find out about their funding criteria and application process.

Other funding

The Big Lottery Fund also provides funding for voluntary organisations and charities, through the national lottery. Small to medium community transformation grants are available at a local level through to national projects.

The Community Development Foundation offers some grant schemes to community groups and voluntary organisations.

The National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) provides advice and support on different sources of funding and finance through the Sustainable Funding Project. NCVO also manages Funding Central on behalf of the Office for Civil Society.

If you are unclear of what to look for you can do a basic search on the Grantnet website. The site allows you to enter information about the project that you are seeking funding for. Brief details of suggested sources of funding are then displayed and full details can be requested by email. Grantnet does not contain information on very small schemes.

The government funding website provides access to government grants for the voluntary and community sector. It is run by the Directory of Social Change who also publish a hard copy version. The Directory of Social Change is a leading, independent source of funding information for voluntary and community organisations. They publish comprehensive details of funders, including charitable trusts and foundations.

How to apply

If you find a grant or funding opportunity suitable for your organisation you will need to submit an application. When reviewing any application the funding body will need supporting evidence of how you propose to invest your grant. As an organisation, you should plan your application carefully and make sure you have sufficient resources available to provide a strong case.

When seeking funding, organisations are much more likely to be successful if they receive support from people who are experienced in the grant application process. The Funding Central website can provide users with advice and contacts on how to submit a strong application. You should always seek expert advice if you are unsure about any aspect of your application as this may greatly reduce your chance of a successful bid.

The following is a list of general advice you should consider when submitting a funding application:

  • find out if you have to fill in an application form or write a letter
  • for the purpose of a letter write no more than one side of A4
  • practice writing your bid on a photocopy of the application form
  • make sure the application looks good and is neat and legible
  • address your application to the correct person
  • select a catchy but appropriate project title
  • don't make any assumptions about the funders' prior knowledge
  • make sure it says who you are and what you do
  • establish your credibility as an organisation/partnership
  • prove there is a concrete need/demand for the project
  • state how much money you need, what you need the money for and why
  • be realistic - do not necessarily bid for the maximum grant available
  • ensure your budget adds up and is realistic
  • show enthusiasm for the project, but be objective
  • show how you plan to monitor/evaluate the project and what will happen to the project when the money runs out
  • enclose appropriate supporting material - accounts, budget, annual report, constitution, leaflets etc

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