This is day 12 of the 30 day Blog series – How To Grow Your Business 30 or Less. I had someone recently ask me how to get funding for a voluntary or community organization- i asked a colleague of mine , who I know is excellent at getting funding for voluntary organization. She has put this together making it as simple as possible.
The million dollar question or at least the fifty k question – depending on how big you’re aiming. Although there is no magic bullet there are certain points that a credible funding application has to cover so that the funder will feel that parting with his cash will yield that all important social return on his investment.
My initial piece of advice is you have to be quite thick skinned as there WILL be rejection along the way. I am a life coach and so it may be surprising that I am stating something that sounds like a limiting belief. It isn’t. It is reality. Along with your fabulously great cause and idea are hundreds and thousands more deserving causes competing for public or private funding.
So having a great idea which is a good cause is not enough for most funders. If I haven’t put you off do read on to get a few pointers on how to make your funding proposal one which does attract the cash:
1) Base it on need
Most funding applications are rejected on the basis that there is no clear demonstration of need.
Your idea should not be just an idea. It should be an idea that is based on an identified need. The need will illustrate to the potential funder the problems your proposed client group face, the barriers they encounter, the disadvantage they are under. In backing up your project idea is ‘evidence’ which confirms why a particular group (geographic, ethnic, community of interest) are vulnerable or in need. You need to show the funder how you have identified that need. Usually that involves consulting with the people who will benefit from your service. You can get in touch with them via surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, social media or link into a community event where you can establish contact. Not only is it a good idea to find out about the client group’s situation but to get a feel whether the kind of project you are proposing would be able to address those needs as well as be something they would want to participate in.
2) Know your competition
As with any business idea you need to know your competition so as to define your service and position yourself in the market. In the voluntary sector competition is an equally valid notion. There are already thousands of charities doing similar things and well-established leading charitable organizations cornering the market. Doing a cursory mapping exercise whereby you scan the proposed local area for your project to get in touch with similar services to find out what they are doing and how. It is your job to note the gaps in services and demonstrate to the funder that, by funding you, they would be providing value for money as your organization is providing something different – and not simply duplicating.
3) Track record
Those of you who are newly established organizations may groan when you read this point. But from the funders point of view they don’t want to be taking unnecessary risks by investing cash in a project/organization that may not be able to deliver. The bottom line is, always, the bottom line. If you are a new organization think how you can add to your track record even if you haven’t delivered any services yet. This can be done by recruiting highly respected individuals onto your board as trustees. Their individual reputations and community credentials will help your organization reputation as well as – genuinely – help your organization.
4) Learn from rejected funding applications
Always seek substantial feedback on a rejected funding application. I’m noticing a trend whereby funders are sending out generic-sounding rejection responses. It is always worth a call to get even just one piece of feedback which will help you improve the next application.
5) Don’t cut and paste from one funding application to another
There may be a temptation to do this as time is precious and applications can be daunting. However, each project should be based on local need which will be borne out by testimonials, quotes, statistics you have gathered to back up your case to be awarded money. It is always worth the effort in the preparation stage to carry out data collection so that when you do get the cash and start the project, there’s a ready client group to work with and the project can take off smoothly. There’s no such thing as free money. You have to account for every penny spent and demonstrate the social return on the investment so the more prep you’ve done the better the results will be.
And ending on a positive note – there are lots of sources for funding out there so keep abreast of funding opportunities. Also think positively when sitting down to write an application. Rather than seeing it as a chore much like a school essay see it as a written exercise to clarify and refine a brilliant, much needed service which is going to help a lot of people.
Please send your feedback to this article to Nicky T
I hope this helped
To Your massive Success