What’s the Secret?
Our research into the funding climate for small and medium-sized charities earlier this year captured the realities of life for smaller charities and how times are increasingly tough. It’s no surprise then that funders like Lloyds Bank Foundation (http://www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk) receive more applications than we can support. When visiting charities we’re often asked for the secret to successful funding bids. The bad news is there’s no magic formula - we often have to turn down great charities making a real difference in people’s lives, but we’ve outlined a few key pointers on what sets good applications apart.
Finding Funders That Fit
We know how time-consuming funding applications can be so we try and make our funding criteria clear from the get-go, to make sure any applications you make are worthwhile. It’s worth taking time to understand our strategy before spending hours gathering evidence for an application that is the wrong fit for the funder.
Our programmes are built around a strategy that reflects what our grantees have told us about their needs. Often charities struggle to fund core costs, because ‘they all want to fund things which are new and innovative’ (p.10) but our Invest programme is founded on the principle that if what you’re doing works well, it we should make sure it’s allowed to keep happening.
We also know it can be hard to get new ideas off the ground, especially strategies like diversifying income that are a venture into the unknown, but our Enable programme is designed to fund organisational development, so that you can grow stronger and more robust.
The Power of First Impressions
Your application will often be your first introduction to us. We won’t base our decision on spelling or grammar but we do look for clear, well considered applications that give us an impression of who you are and what you hope to achieve. Applications should outline straightforwardly;
-Who you wish to support
-What need you are addressing
-How you want to address it
-What outcomes you think you’ll achieve
-How you’ll know if you have achieved them
-That you have a realistic and well thought through plan,
-And a budget for doing this.
After all, if someone was asking you for money, these are probably the kinds of questions you would be asking too! So, before you apply, don a funder’s hat and re-read your application to check that you have given us the best picture of your work. It sometimes helps to ask someone with an outsider’s perspective to give you feedback on this.
Understanding Your Charity’s Role in the Bigger Picture
We want to support charities that are well run, who value their employees and service users and have the right structures to keep people safe. We like to see a track record of delivering impactful services meeting the needs of the communities they support. These details in an application can also help indicate to us how aware your charity is of its role in the local area; whether this is to fill a gap in local services, or perhaps how effectively you link in with and make referrals to other local service providers.
We also know it is also important to be proportionate. The expectations we set of a charity with an income of £900,000 and 20 employees may be different to that when meeting a smaller, newer charity, with an income of £50,000 and two part-time staff. This is why we run our Enable and Enhance programmes which can support organisations that still require some development.
Above all, before making an application to a funder, it can be useful to have an organisational health check, either self-assessing using one of the many online tools available or working with your local CVS. We don’t expect perfection but we do value self-awareness of where you can develop further.
Your Success is Our Success
Success for us is giving long term grants and support to charities helping people to break through the barriers and disadvantages they are experiencing to achieve lasting positive outcomes.
Like any funder, we like to see the impact of our funding, and we ask our grantees to ensure that monitoring processes are in place for every grant we offer. This is useful in two ways; for encouraging the charities we support to use their monitoring information to improve and develop their services, and in helping us as a funder to understand the difference we are making to some of the hardest to reach people in society who are experiencing multiple disadvantage.
In our latest Impact Report you’ll find data showing the impact we’re having on different areas of the voluntary sector and how our grants tackle multiple disadvantage, which comes from the monitoring reports we collect. You’ll also find examples of charities that are demonstrating the life-changing difference they’re making day in, day out, with our help.
If you think we could work with you too, visit www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk/howtoapply to check whether we’re the right funder for you and find details on making an application.
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