Without the funds (money) to pay for your project, it will remain just a good idea. Even with all the best intentions, sometimes great projects, community groups and even businesses fail because of a lack of financial support to get the idea off the ground or later sustain it.
There are lots of charities, government departments and organisations who can offer projects like yours financial support.
There are normally two types of funding that you can bid for – capital funding and revenue funding.
Capital funding is for major projects; such as renovating a building, improving the road layout or even building a new school. Revenue funding is for helping with running costs; such as activities.
You might be surprised how many funding streams are available and how easily they can be accessed. There will, however, always be conditions set on how the money can be used and some funding streams are more prescriptive than others.
The main funding streams are grants, award schemes, loans and crowdfunding.
These sums of money are provided for a specific purpose. You will normally have to meet a strict set of criteria for your project to be eligible. But there are some very good specific grants on offer for things like clean-ups and crime prevention projects.
These require each application to be presented to a panel of judges and the final award is offered to the group or organisation that needs financial assistance the most.
These are provided by banks and some organisations. A loan needs to be paid back, but can be useful if you require money upfront to help launch your project. There are usually fewer conditions on how this money can be used.
This is a way of raising finance by asking a large number of people each for a small amount of money. Until recently, financing a business, project or venture involved asking a few people for large sums of money. Crowdfunding switches this idea around, using the internet to talk to thousands of potential funders. Typically, those seeking funds will set up a profile of their project on a website such as Spacehive. They can then use social media, alongside traditional networks of friends, family and work acquaintances, to raise money.
Where to find funding
We have done some of the leg work for you and listed a number of the country’s top funders on our Find Funding pages so you don’t have to go searching for them.
Below are a few other sites which could also help you look for the best funding for your project.
Big Lottery Fund – one of the largest funding streams, but also one of the most competitive.
Trusts and Foundations – There are approximately 4,000 trusts and foundations in the UK. It would be useful to find the trusts and foundations that provide funding in your project area and approach them individually.
Central and local government – Central government provides funding for the voluntary and community sector. The council also provides funding and grants for specific projects. Both have more information on their individual websites.
European funding – The European Social Fund provides 10 billion euros to the UK. You may be eligible for this funding if your project improves economic opportunities in your area. The application process is complicated, so it is strongly recommended to contact your regional voluntary sector European funding advice office for assistance.
The application process
The application process for each funding stream is different; you may need to write a letter, complete an application form or make a presentation. If you want your application to be successful, you need to describe the project clearly.
Being able to answer the following questions will give you a good start:
Aim – What is the reason for your project?
Objective – What are your priorities? What results do you hope to see achieved?
The need for your project – Funders will always ask you to prove why your project is needed. What difference will it make? Who will it help? (this could include the volunteers who help deliver the project as well as the wider community who might benefit from the finished project)
Financial support – You will need to illustrate how your project specifically meets the funder’s criteria for allocating funding. You will need to provide evidence to show that you need their financial support to launch your project? It would help if you had a financial plan, with costs and descriptions of what you need to deliver and sustain your project.
The funder needs to be feel confident that you will be spending their money wisely and will be able to track your expenses and project’s progress. In your application, you will need to provide the following information:
- A record of your finances
- Your plans on how you will measure the success of your project
- How you plan to keep the project running when the funding runs out
You will also need to provide the funder with equality information, as most funders want their money to be spent to benefit as many people from across communities as possible. The information required is usually on disability, ethnic background, religion or belief.
Key data and information about the London borough of Ealing to help you understand your local community and know your audience can be found on Ealing Data. It is an information sharing, mapping and reporting website that can be used by anyone, including local government, community and voluntary sector organisations, businesses, students and the public.
There are a number of resources available to help you with the application process, here are just a couple.
Funding guidance from the Big Lottery Fund
Funding guidance from Sport England
Funding guidance from NCVO