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Introduction to grant funding: Top tips from a funding expert

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Introduction to grant funding: Top tips from a funding expert

Communications Officer Aimée Palmer considers the main lessons learned from London Sport Consultancy's free webinar on grant funding which took place earlier this week.

There was plenty to squeeze into a 90-minute session with funding expert Aaron Dunkley exploring strategies to think creatively about fundraising, improving grant-readiness, and bolstering fundraising exploits.

Here, I've gathered the highlights and key learnings from Tuesday's free webinar by London Sport Consultancy. For more information on the webinar, or how London Sport Consultancy can help your organisation, get in touch with Aaron here.

The UK funding landscape

There are thousands of funding opportunities each year across the UK. Aaron highlighted that when evaluating projects and organisations, most funders prefer to support defined projects, as opposed to core funding.

Unfortunately, very few funders will fund sport or physical activity for its own sake. Your project must be focused on the wider social impacts that sport and physical activity can have.

As we entered the pandemic, the funding landscape was in a crisis phase. Funders had temporarily closed their applications, priorities shifted to tackling the effects of the pandemic, and new emergency funds opened.

Nearly two years on, we are now in a recovery phase. There has been a shift in attitudes on core costs and reserves within funding organisations, and those who they support. Funders have used the effects of the pandemic as an opportunity to re-focus.

Funders have re-aligned their commitments and are now supporting more projects with a social impact, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) or climate change. 

Aaron suggested that if you are on the path to fundraising, you should be looking at your DEI and/or sustainability strategies, as this will continue to grow in importance for funders.

The three types of funding

Core funding

This involves supporting costs associated with running an organisation that are not directly linked to service delivery. This could involve operational costs, HR, logistics etc.

Project funding

Here, funding would be supporting costs clearly and directly linked to the delivery of a specific project.

Capital funding

This means supporting the daily and long-term needs of an organisation.

Identifying and engaging funders

What are your funders looking for?

  • Evidence the need. Why does this project need to be executed?
  • What is the wider benefit of the project? For example, if you are a leisure centre with paying members, what is the benefit of this project on the wider community outside of your paying members?
  • Alignment. Does your project align to the funders core objectives? Study their guidelines, strategies, and organisational values.
  • Track record. They will want to see if you have delivered any successful funded projects prior to this.
  • What cause is this helping? Does this project solve a social issue, or is it just a ‘nice to have?’

Evidencing the need

  • Showing the evidence for the need of the project is an important step in applying for grant funding.
  • Using secondary data is not enough to show the importance of executing the certain project.
  • Capture the evidence of need through primary data, collected through questionnaires, surveys, interviews, discussion groups, or letters of support.

Finding opportunities

Talking to funders

  • Keeping the line of communication between your organisation and funders open is key.
  • In the pre-application stage, focus the conversation on how you meet their priorities, give continuous feedback, send your pitch documents, and avoid over-excitement in your lines of communication.
  • During ongoing talks, continue to send project updates, promote the support you are receiving, update your externally facing channels, and talk about the partnership with your funders.

Build a case for support

A case for support is a detailed document containing most of the information you will need to write funding applications. There should be a case for support for each of your funding priorities/key projects, and one for your organisation as a whole.

Your case for support should have the following components: Organisation, Need, Solution, Impact and Sustainability.

London Sport Consultancy will be back with another funding webinar next month. On Tuesday 22 February (10am - 11.30am), Aaron will be delving into the Do's and Don’ts of Bid-Writing, sign-up to attend this free session here.

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