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Before approaching a funder

Key questions to ask your group

By Louise Ray

Who are you?

You are unlikely to be able to attract funding unless you have evidence that you exist as an organisation. For some funders it might be sufficient for you to have a simple constitution and bank account, others might be looking to fund a particular type of organisation.  Different funders will have different criteria regarding who is eligible for their funding.  For example, some Trusts and Foundations will only fund registered charities.

If you find a scheme that is relevant to what you want to do but do not meet their eligibility criteria, you may want to consider a collaborative project.  If you are able to find a partner organisation that is eligible, they might be able to lead and develop a project with you to access different sources of funding.

See How to set up a group for further help.

What do you want to do?

Most funders will be looking to support a particular project rather fund general running costs. So you will need to think about planning a project proposal for the funder.

Initial questions you will need to ask your group are:

  • What are we aiming to do?
  • How do we plan to do it?
  • How long will the project take?
  • What will the project cost?
  • Does our proposal meet any specific aims of the funder?

Some funding programmes allow for full-cost recovery, which means you can include a percentage of overheads as part of the project.  It is worth investigating whether this is a possibility at an early stage.  For example, the Heritage Lottery Fund, now allows full cost recovery for ‘small and medium-sized voluntary groups’.

Some funders will only pay grants retrospectively, i.e. you need to spend the money and then claim it back.  Does your organisation have the cash flow to manage this?

How can we sustain our group?

Funders will usually ask questions about how the project will be maintained when the goals have been achieved and the money spent.  So you will need to be realistic when planning your project about what you can do in the longer term.

Some questions you might need to ask your group are:

  • If we create a website – how much will it cost to maintain and who will be responsible for this in the longer-term?
  • If we are collecting oral history recordings or other archive materials – where will they be kept and how will they be used in the longer-term?
  • Do we have the resources to continue meeting after the project ends, or is the group only relevant to a specific project?
  • How will we keep volunteers interested in the group once the project ends?

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