It may sound obvious to you or it may not, but the truth of the matter is, if you are not eligible for funding your application will simply get thrown in the bin. Funders say that over 45% of applications each year are thrown straight away and it frustrates them because it wastes their time and raises administration costs (which could go on more grants!).
The basics are as follows
1. Make sure your constitution is up to scratch, ask an advisor over the phone at the charity commission or hire in a charity consultant to help you write a decent constitution that sensibly and clearly describes your aims. Use a governing document such as a GD1 form or GD3 form if you live in England, which you can download from the charity commission website. It is basically a template with multiple choice clauses. In Scotland there is model constitution available from the OSCR website
2. It is essential you have the right insurances. Public liability, employer’s indemnity and appropriate accident at work cover for sports or activities workers.
3. Policies and procedures will make or break your applications. Use the templates in the training manual, it is highly likely you will have to send copies of your child protection policies and procedures to support your application for funding. As a charity consultant I have charged hundreds of pounds to write policies and procedures for agencies across the UK because it is so vital to running a charity. ( you are saving a fortune by using the templates in the fund youth work manual!)
4. Qualifications are important. If you are asking for high paid staff costs, make sure you can prove your qualifications (i.e youth work qualifications, relevant degrees, management courses, child protection courses, drugs awareness, anything that will support the application etc.
5. Location. Is your project situated in the right area? There is no point asking for funding to work with vulnerable and deprived young people if you are doing detached work at Eton! Find out your neighbourhood statistics on the IMD (index of multiple deprivation – find out more in the manual) and prove the need with statistics from the government and also local knowledge from police, teachers, other charities.
6. Background checks. Working with people in the community it is just a given that all your directors need enhanced disclosures and all your staff and volunteers to have at least basic disclosures, and full CRB or PVG checks if working with children, young people or vulnerable adults.
7. Don’t ask for too little or too much! If you ask for too little without match funding the funders are going to see straight through the bid and question your planning, if you ask for too much they are going to think you are using the money unwisely. Write a set of project and management accounts with a 12 year projection and attach it to support your vision for your project. Funders like to see honesty and where money is concerned predictability. Be wacky with your project ideas by all means, but where cash is concerned be calculating, safe and consistent.
8. Partnership working. Are you doing the project alone, are there other agencies or charities who can help, or who are already doing what you want to do? Funders hate duplication so make sure you can prove you are working in partnership with others.
9. Good financial history. If you have a poor personal credit history banks will struggle to give you accounts or allow you to be a signatory. If you have poor credit, just go on as a basic trustee and get somebody else to be one of the three main places ‘chair, treasurer or secretary’.
10. Evidence that the community actually want your project or will attend it. Hold a focus group or use a questionnaire and have as many people comment as possible. Qualitative and quantitative data are useful and a well-executed piece of research complimented with a real life scenario or testimonial will boost your application to the top of the pile. (see the fund youth work training manual for more details.)