I am a Trustee Board member for Dorset Community Foundation (DCF), we fund community groups and charities. DCF support Dorset based charities and individuals through grants and bursaries. The funding we distribute is on the behalf of individuals, companies, funding partners, trusts or from our own Dorset Fund. I see many people pitching for funds at Dorset Business Angels, which is different from Dorset Community Foundation. But there are some similar demands on the applicant, I will cover later. First, let me give 5 tips for grant fund applications based on talking to our Grants Manager at DCF. Here are useful web links, one to the DCF website on Apply for a Grant and another from Dorset Community Action (DCA), a Dorset voluntary organisation that gives funding advice here.
1. Impact and Outcomes
As part of our grant making strategy, we not only support smaller organisations that carry out vital work, but we also ensure funded projects are:
- Sustainable – grant manager recognise the challenge in the current economic climate of achieving genuine longer term sustainability. However, they will be looking for a project to show genuine viability, not over-reliance on a grant.
- Good value for money
- Support the maximum number of beneficiaries possible
- Monitored and audited to deliver as per project proposal
Dorset Community Foundation are currently in the process of reviewing our impact and outcomes assessment in order to ensure that we provide compelling evidence of the impact of donor/fund holder investment in local community development. Read more on DCF website here.
2. Evidencing the need
- What statistical information do you have showing proof?
- What has happened, examples, situation and numbers relevant to your submission and the criteria.
In the case of our Neighbourhood Fund you can see some of the needs and challenges clearly listed on this page.
3. Give detailed Costing
DCF has various funds and grants. Our website summarises the Grants we offer here. Specific grants have criteria which will ask you to list costs associated with the application. Historic accuracy, proof, and the ability to audit in future are important. Our audit function is one of the reasons we are given funds by organisations and partners such as Comic Relief, The Dorset Authorities and commercial organisations, as well as from high net worth friends. They trust and rely on us to check on applications and then audit in future that money has been well invested.
4. Do you fit the Funding Criteria?
If you fit the funding criteria that’s good. If not, don’t waste your time. If you think you fit the criteria, there is a skill to writing a good application. Help the funder, by answering the questions. Most funders get a lot of pages to read. Be clear and specific. Like any test or exam (not trying to scare you here!) the trick is to “read” the form or guidance notes carefully. Here for example are the Bursary Scheme Guidance notes view here (this round closed September 2016).
5. Send in all the Documents
This may seem obvious, but make sure you have sent in all the document and forms that need to be filled in. You will probably have heard of tenders where they are very strict and non-compliance in any shape or form, means you are not considered. DCF always tries to be helpful, but do check.
I mentioned to start this article on 5 tips for grant fund applications, that there are similarities with Dragons Den style fund raising at Dorset Business Angels. I would point to a couple. One is research the funding organisation thoroughly. If you understand DCF, how it works, funds, who it funds and the specific fund, and grant involved, this can only help you. Why you? This is important. In business and in all walks of life, there is ever increasing competition. A panel will probably end up reviewing your application alongside others. If you were pitching on Dragon’s Den, what would be your Elevator Pitch? Your one paragraph story? And your 3 or 4 USPs – your Unique Selling Propositions?
However, a word of warning. Do not, start inserting unnecessary information that the Grants Manager will find annoying! It is likely any funding organisation will have to say “no” to some applications. You will be competing for funding. How will the funding make a difference, the impact in measurable terms? If you are applying for the right grant, you should be able to prove your story.
Apply for a Grant at Dorset Community Foundation here