Preparing your project for funding
So, you have identified a great new site for restoration or you have a new project in mind that needs funding – what comes next? Beginning the funding process can be a daunting prospect, so in this post we’ll try and break it down for you into a step by step guide, leaving you able to approach the task in a confident and logical way and hopefully increasing the chances of successfully reaching your target.
What, Why, How and How Much?
Before beginning the funding process it is vital you can answer any question people may have about your project.
- What exactly is the project and what do you hope to achieve? Try and keep this as simple as possible; the clearer you are about what your project is, the easier it will be to sell to others.
- Why is the project needed? This is one of the most important things to consider when you are asking people for money. Try and arm yourself with facts, statistics and research rather than assumptions or sweeping statements. Also, consider your project in a wider context (the community, the history, the local environment) and think about why your project might appeal to people outside of your organisation or group. Does your project tie in with any wider community objectives?
- How? Realistically, how will you complete the project – who and what will you need to achieve your end goal? Is anything going to prevent you from achieving your project, how will you deal with this?
- How much? This refers to both time and money. Your budget should try and take all costs into account, so avoid being conservative in your estimates, but do not ask funders for more than you think you will need ‘just in case’ – you will need to show where the money will go.
Your time scale should be proportionate to the size of your project and the number of people and resources you have to complete it – if you have project experience, think about how long similar tasks have taken in the past.
Try and answer all these questions in a project brief that can be a ‘go to’ document to send to funding bodies but also a reference guide for yourself and your group to keep your project on track.
The first place to consider asking for funding is from trusts and grant giving bodies. Heritage Lottery Fund is a well known example of this and may be an avenue you want to explore. However, there is a lot of competition for this fund so consider looking at the other grants that are out there. There are thousands of trusts, so using websites such as Funding Central or Heritage Funding Directory can help you search for funds where the trustee’s priorities and objectives most closely match your own. Local foundations are a good source as they like to support projects in their area. Different trusts and foundations have different stipulations and rules so ensure your research is thorough and if you are unsure if your project is eligible, contact the fund manager directly.
In some cases you will be able to secure 100% of your funding through grants but depending on the size of your project you may need to seek alternative sources. However, an Institute of Fundraising recommendation is that you do not publically ask for money until you have secured around 50% of your total amount (people then believe your total is achievable), so if you are still a long way from your required sum perhaps consider applying to further trusts or approaching corporate/major donors first. Is there a company or wealthy individual who may have a specific connection to your project, meaning they may have an interest in helping you fund it?
Corporate donors may also be willing to donate ‘gifts in kind’ – experience or equipment rather than money, which may help reduce your overall costs. It is easier to approach this kind of donor if you already have a contact or you can offer something in return, such as publicity.
Your needs and fundraising strategy will vary depending on the size and type of project you are working on and the amount of money you require though, so try and establish what you think will work best for you.
Once you are well on your way to your funding goal, it’s time to get people excited about your project. This is the time to consider community fundraising; you may want to set up an online page which people can donate to, or run a series of small events (quiz, bake sale, raffle). Also consider telling the local press about your project, especially if you can demonstrate any progress so far or if your project is of particular local interest. You may also generate interest if someone is doing something great to raise money for you – a supporter joining an organised cycle, walk or run can earn sponsorship and raise the profile of your project. There are a number of online platforms, such as Virgin Money Giving or Just Giving , which can help you collect sponsorship. You may also want to consider crowd funding through sites such as Kick Starter or Indie GoGo. Remember to link anything you do online with your social media account to get as many people involved as possible.
Review and Evaluate
Continually review where you are with your fundraising and with your project. Have you reached any milestones that are worth shouting about? Have your funding needs changed? Your original brief may have altered so stay on top of this and consider what it means for your budget.
Following this methodology can’t guarantee success, but will put you in a very strong position when approaching your project and gives you the flexibility not to rely on one source of income.
The links below will give you further information to help you develop your fundraising strategy using multiple sources:
IWA list of available grants
Guardian crowdfunding advice
The Heritage Alliance
Virgin Money Giving
Heritage Lottery Fund