In our last blog, we talked about what makes schools as organisations attractive to grant-makers and funders.
Of course, this position should not be taken for granted. There are always ways to improve your funding fitness and capitalise on your strong position in the community. This is the difference between a good bid for funding and an outstanding bid for funding.
1. Research, record, report.
You have good links with people in your community – so speak to them. Find out what challenges they face and in what ways you can help them make a difference to their lives. Take notes of conversations and meetings. Conduct a survey. Carry out observations.
The point of this is to help you identify the specific needs of your community and provide evidence of those needs. This will, firstly, help you design meaningful projects that engage the community and bring about desired change. Second, this will show a funder that you have taken the time to research and evidence your project. You need to ensure that you communicate the details of your research clearly in any funding application you make. Be clear about what you found out, how you did it and in what ways the evidence supports your requirements for funding.
2. Harness the support of others.
The relationships you have with voluntary and community groups and extended services providers can help you meet the criteria of particular funders. First of all, some funders like to see evidence of community partnerships. This helps to show that you are not an ‘insular’ organisation. Instead, you maintain good working relationships with others in the community. Second, working with external groups may actually help you to achieve your project goals. They may be able to volunteer certain expertise or experience which you need to make your project a success. Third, links with external groups may give you access to other pots of funding which would otherwise be unavailable to you. For example, a funder may require the lead applicant of an application to be a third sector organisation, or want to see other organisations supporting your work before they commit to funding you.
3. Capitalise on your strengths.
Funders are looking to support credible and reliable organisations. They need to be sure that they can trust you to make a difference with their funding. One way of communicating your credibility is to talk about your strengths and provide evidence of your strengths. What are you good at? How do you know your approach is the right one? How will you past experiences inform your future work? Discussing these questions in an application shows a funder that you hold a strong position, informed by reflection and experience.