When it comes to grant funding, we’re all guilty of ploughing the same furrow, especially if it has reaped dividends in the past. It’s a tough funding environment, there are still £billions in grant funding available but there are over 165,000 other organisations in the voluntary sector vying for that same funding. To be successful you need to think about how to stand out from the crowd.
Understand the landscape your project operates in
We can all be a bit insular at times. We know why our organisation and the projects we work on are needed; after all we speak to our beneficiaries all the time, and we care about our work.
But do we regularly stop and give ourselves space to think about how our work fits into the wider external environment?
To make the most of funding opportunities we need to know the motivation behind them. Do your stakeholder analysis. Get to know:
- funders who fund your type of projects. What are their aims and priorities right now?
- what’s going on in your area – from your location to your part of the sector?
- what are the needs of other local and/or similar organisations?
- what are the hot topics that politicians and the media are talking about?
The environment around us is constantly changing. We need to know and understand the latest trends so we’re best placed to take advantage of them.
Visit the support and advice section on Funding Central for more information.
Match funding opportunities to your priorities – rather than the other way around
If we are honest, when times are tight we’ve all chased funding that probably wasn’t right. But let’s say it again and then again louder: don’t get distracted by funding that’s not right for your project. It’s going to waste a lot of your time and not really deliver on what’s important to your organisation (therefore your beneficiaries).
Your organisation has a vision, a mission and strategy for what you want to deliver, stick to that.
Of course you’ll want to explore new areas and projects but if they start falling outside your organisation’s scope then you need to have a fresh look at your strategy and see if it needs to change to help bring some focus.
Look for different types of funding opportunities
If you rely on one funder or one income stream, the effect of any changes to that income can be disastrous for your organisation and your beneficiaries. We know only too well that it’s hard work to replace funding for a project completely funded by one income stream.
Diversification is key to a sustainable future, so mix it up when it comes to income streams and to funders.
Our funding search on Funding Central combines all types of grants, from trust, foundations and government, with contracts and social investment. So have a look where you could branch out and find new potential funding.
Share your story and your impact
Getting across the impact of your work is crucial for so many reasons, not least telling potential funders about what you have achieved and what else you hope to achieve.
We know about measuring outcomes and showing impact. We create reports, quote stats and put together case studies. But do we think enough about engaging ways to share this information with our key audiences?
Your supporters and funders, and all those potential ones, want to hear how you are making a difference, so think about:
- how you can bring your work to life
- the different ways and mediums you can tell your story
- how you can involve your beneficiaries in this process, after all it’s their story you’re telling too.
‘Our website has 20,000 users’ only tells a fraction of the story, that’s why we share stories of how are users are getting on, what funding they have found and most importantly what great things they have done with it.
We loved hearing from one of our users, the Reporters’ Academy, who use video, photography and audio recordings in capturing their evaluations. Their beneficiaries are actually involved in the process so funders can see in real life the impact of their work. Find out more about the Reporters’ Academy
Hear from other Funding Central users on achieving funding success.
Thanks to Katy Atkinson from the Reporters’ Academy