30 Oct

New funding for SDCREN

The South Devon Coastal Renewable Energy Network has secured funding from the Regen SW Community Energy Accelerator Devon County Council Fund.

The Accelerator Fund is providing start-up assistance to community energy projects in Devon (excluding Plymouth and Torbay) to help groups deploy community-owned renewables. Applications under this objective were able to apply for up to £4,500 of funding for projects.
Alongside this, Regen SW will be managing the fund and providing support to the group on making best use of the investment and engaging as many members of the community as possible.

Read more here SDCREN Woodfuel Hub Press Release

28 Oct

Funding Masterclasses Part X: Making it Stand Out, Matching the Criteria and Showing your USP

 

Funding Masterclasses Part XThis is the part of the application where you get to say ‘fund us because’. You will need to be objective and say why you/your organisation, and your project, is distinctive and therefore a better investment than others, which can be hard. (NB It may also help you to go back to number 3 in this masterclass series, ‘Showing you are the right people to do it’).

If you don’t make your project stand out, you won’t be competitive and funding is a competitive process.  Just look at the success rates of successful grants against the number of applications received. A good tip is to give the project a memorable title.

Many businesses will be used to benchmarking themselves against competitors, and will have done their market research, and reviewed their competitors and their products and services, but for community groups this kind of activity can be unfamiliar, and help may be required.

Firstly, appeal to the heart of funder – they do have them! Bring in case studies, quotes/images – anything that brings the project to life and will make it stick in the mind of the funder. Highlight what is unique about your project – you, the strengths in the organisation, the location, the target group, the focus, how it arose, the opportunities it offers. In marketing terms this is demonstrating the USP – the unique selling proposition – of the project. Be innovative, but avoid gimmicks and always be honest!

Then appeal to the head. Show the funder you mean business, that you can deliver, and are an organisation worth investing in, by:

  • Following the guidance supplied to ensure you match the criteria for funding exactly
  • Meeting any timescales given – if applications have to be in by a certain time, don’t be late
  • Speaking to the funders’ officers and advisors, then listening and acting on the advice and suggestions made
  • Doing what you are asked to do – format, word count, attachments etc
  • Having a project that stacks up, with a clear purpose which delivers the funders aims
  • Demonstrating value for money and long term sustainability

If you need help please do not hesitate to get in touch – Sophie Price, Project Advisor 01837 658543

Liz Abell signature

Managing Director

21 Oct

Funding Masterclasses Part IX: Predicting Outputs

Funding Masterclasses Part IX

Often feared by many, the outputs section is often left until well into the funding application process. But outputs should be thought about early on, as they are the way you demonstrate to a funder or investor, ‘it was worth giving us the investment, just look at what we’ve achieved’.

To be formal outputs are usually defined as what is delivered (and you may see the awful jargon term ‘deliverables’ mentioned), during the life of the project. There may be a predefined list of indicators or options (detailed in any guidance notes), or up to you to come up with your own. Each output usually needs to detail:

  • What they are about (eg creating a job)
  • What the starting position is (eg currently (Oct 15) 2 full-time equivalent jobs)
  • What the end position will be (eg 4 full-time equivalent posts)
  • When it is you’ll get there. (eg Oct 17)
  • And how you will prove it (eg job adverts, wage slips)

Be careful as outputs can be confused with outcomes which are usually defined as the longer term consequences or impact of the project, BUT some funders have their own definitions of what each means!

For those of you who are familiar with objective setting, applying the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) principles can help. Outputs need to be tangible and usually include a number. Keep it simple, the number of outputs should be appropriate to the size and scale of the project proposed.

It might help to think about what information you collect already, and ask yourself, can any of this help evidence an output target? It is much easier to continue something you do already and make outputs evidence collation integral to your current way of working.

Keep details of how you arrive at the figures you put in the application as you will need to replicate the process when you come to report on achievements. And it is very unlikely you will remember how you arrived at a figure of 3,567 attendees at events unless you have written down how you got to this figure.

If you aren’t collecting any information already, then you will need to establish what is known as a baseline and then start collecting the evidence.

The format to write outputs will normally be supplied by the funder – usually a table, often in excel, so that they are easy to read.  Once funding is awarded, a funder will indicate when and how you should report.

To summarise, outputs are delivered during the lifetime of the project, and shouldn’t be scary, but they often are.

If you need help with any aspect of your project application, please get in touch with Sophie Price 01837 658643 to discuss your queries.

Liz Abell

Managing Director

14 Oct

Funding Masterclasses Part VIII: Working out How Much it will Cost

Funding Masterclasses Part VIII

Maybe this section should be subtitled ‘a lesson in crystal ball gazing’ as sometimes this is what it feels like! But if you are organised, and have a project plan, it can become a logical process.

When you start thinking in detail about your project you will start to gain an inkling of what you intend to spend the money on, and what the likely costs will be. At this stage, the figures will be very much estimates. Having an idea of the costs will help you work out what funding package you need to put together – will you be looking for £5k, £50k or £500k?

The cost of pieces of equipment are relatively easy to work out (one of the benefits of the internet!), as are salary ranges if you intend to employ staff as part of the project. But things like building works are much more complicated, so it may be necessary to invest in having drawings, specifications and a schedule of works drawn up at the outset. Doing research to find out what similar projects have cost can be useful, especially if you can talk to someone who has been through the process.

 

The cost information funders require differ enormously. Some only want broad headings perhaps split only into capital and revenue. Other will have a standard layout to complete, usually in a spreadsheet format, with headings already included, or options for you to add in your own. Some will want a budget for just whilst the project is running, others five years or more.

It is helpful to split the costs into capital and revenue, even if the form doesn’t do this for you as it will help the funder see the costs clearly. Capital is the term for costs that covers items such as building works and equipment, revenue includes things such as salaries, office costs, travel and marketing. Many forms will have a notes section where you can include an explanation of how the figures have been worked out.

Our top tips for getting your budget right are:

  1. Be organised – get all your information together before you start
  2. Keeping the workings out behind the figures in the table– because the budget will evolve over time and need constant reworking!
  3. Ensure you’ve covered everything – it is very easy to forget things.
  4. Check carefully what is ‘eligible’ for funding – all funders will detail this in their guidance. No funder is the same as another, so you will need to check each one individually to ensure that it is possible to spend the funding on what you’re proposing. This can mean you can end up with different budgets for different funders!
  5. Check any detailed rules about ‘procurement’, or the rules you need to follow before making any purchases. These will include details of the number of quotes you need to obtain and whether or not a more formal process is required. Again, this isn’t to trip you up, but as a way to justify to the funder that they are gaining the best value for their investment.

Pulling the costs together can be a complicated process, but can be achieved if you refer to the any guidance provided, and you are organised and on top of the paperwork.

If you need help to work out the costings of your project, to write or check over an application or business plan, our team can help you. As a not for profit organisation, we are able to offer this service.  Contact Sophie Price for further details 01837 658643.

Liz Abell

Managing Director

07 Oct

Funding Masterclasses Part VII: The Technical Bits – Policies to Accompany Application

Funding Masterclasses Part VII

Policies are a written statement of how a business, group or organisation intends to deal with certain things. As with the other technical parts of an application, policies can seem to get in the way and many applicants consider them a waste of time. But having policies in place is a way of demonstrating to the funder that your organisation is professional and some will be required by law.

The funder may want to see a copy of the document, or they may be happy for it to be referred to only in the text, or you might need to ‘tick a box’ to confirm you have it in place. Business plans are less likely to include policies, but again, references to them shows that you aware of good management practice.

 

The policies required will depend upon what size your organisation is, the field or sector in which you operate, and what the purpose of the proposed project is. However, the most common policies required by funders are:

  • Health and Safety
  • Equal opportunities or Managing diversity
  • Environmental or Sustainability
  • Safeguarding vulnerable people (children/elderly)
  • Data Protection
  • Employment policies – covering recruitment and selection, grievance, capability, disciplinary, sickness, IT use, leave, etc. Essential if you employ staff, and good practice if you have volunteers.

Other policies may be required occasionally, including Confidentiality, Conflict of Interest, Complaints procedure and Financial Controls.

The detail the policy contains will depend on the nature of the business – some could be just a couple of paragraphs setting out what the organisation wishes to happen, others will include how the policy will happen. Any policy should state how and when it is to be reviewed, to ensure it remains current and fit for purpose.

Don’t be tempted to say you have policies in place, and then fail to follow it through by not developing them – you will be found out! Also, follow any guidance notes on how to include them eg as attachments, in appendices, otherwise your application could be rejected on a technicality.

Having policies in place demonstrates to funders and others that you follow good management practices and can make or break a funding application.

If you need help to organise the policies to support your application, to write or check over an application or business plan, our team can help you. As a not for profit organisation, we are able to offer this service.  Please contact Sophie Price 01837 658643 for further information.

Liz Abell

Managing Director