Ensure your application dosen't end in the shredder by following these ten top tips!
1) Check the Eligibility Criteria - Grant applications can take hours, days to complete, so it is crucial before you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard that you thoroughly read the grant funders eligibility criteria. Criteria can be pretty strict and if you fail to meet even one condition your application will be binned. Some providers include a checklist with the application pack to check suitability for the grant programme, it is beneficial to peruse this along with the eligibility criteria.
2) Read the Guidance - Funders supply a comprehensive applicant guidance document or application handbook which explains in detail how the funding process works. Sometimes there are different stages to the procedure, make sure you know what is expected from you at each submission stage. The guidance is there to help you and may give examples on how to complete the application.
3) Start planning early – In order to successfully manage your project, you will need to be organised and have a timeline in mind. It is advisable to use the SMART method during the planning stage – is your project Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed? If your project does not meet these marketing objectives, have a rethink before considering submitting a grant application.
4) Talk- You need to ensure that you have the right team with the correct skills to carry out each requirement of your plan. To give your project the best chance of success, talk to people, including the local community, who may have the professional skills and knowledge to maximise the project to its best potential. It is also crucial you engage with your parishioners throughout the whole project process – evidence of community engagement is usually required as supplementary evidence so include views and surveys. Engagement can be done in person with drop in events showcasing your project or online via websites, emails, social media and surveys.
5) Assume the grant provider knows nothing –Explain clearly who you are and what you are intending to do, if you are using acronyms, ensure they are explained when first used, but try and stick to basic language avoiding jargon which may not be understood. Funding is discretionary, so sell your project to the reader and make it sound different and exciting.
6) Budget– Explain very clearly what you require the grant money for and how you have arrived at the figure requested. Evidence any money you already have allocated for the project and where that funding is coming from. This could be from s106, CIL, earmarked reserves, donations, and other grants. Some providers deem the eligibility to reclaim VAT as unsecured funds. Ensure you provide details of any other grant funders. Some organisations will require a Contributory Third Party (CTP) payment which is paid directly to the grant provider. Give some thought as to who you could approach to assist with this payment. Do not purchase anything specifically related to your grant application until an agreement contract has been received, signed, and dated and consider how VAT may impact your grant. Purchases will need to be supported by invoices for defrayal evidence from reputable contractors and most grant providers will only cover capital costs and not revenue costs or preliminaries. If there is a shortfall in funding, explain how this shortfall will be covered.
7) Supplementary Documentation – It is so important to ensure you include supplementary documentation to support your application. This could include your budget breakdown, quotes, risk assessments, marketing strategy and vitally - proof of community consultation. If you are sending information supporting your project make sure you adhere to GDPR and Data Protection Regs to ensure you do not pass on any private information without consent. If consent has not been sought, detail in your application why any personal information has been removed e.g. email addresses.
8) Grant Conditions – Benefactors often issue an agreement with a number of grant conditions; you must ensure that these conditions are upheld with evidence provided or your grant may be liable to clawback. For example, you maybe required to display a plaque with the grant providers information or supply quarterly reports on the progress of the project.
9) Boast– It is so important to sell your project to the decision-making panel, and it is essential you provide a list of benefits the project will bring to the local community. Where possible provide figures and statistics such as a projected increased footfall or usage. Identify groups within the community who will specifically benefit and the positive impact it may have on their life. For example – a new play area with equipment allowing usage by children with disabilities will have a positive impact on their social and mental wellbeing.
10) Engage – Speak to your proposed grant funder, they are there to help you! If you get stuck with the application form or have any questions connect with them at the earliest chance so they can guide you appropriately. Many grant funding providers will keep in contact with you during the process via email and telephone calls, take advantage of this and seek advice as and when required.
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Grant Funding: A Guide for Town and Parish Council Clerks