Thursday, 15 March 2012

Grant funding – you actually have to apply if you want some!!

Considering the content of my recent blogs, focussed on the widespread reduction in public funds reaching the VCS, I was very surprised to hear the comments voiced at the recent EM Funding Forum.

All national funders around the table reported the East Midlands as having a relatively slow take up of grant opportunities compared to other regions in the country. There had also been a significant drop in the number of applications to some of the independent charitable foundations across the region, and in many cases country.

Whilst there is not a direct and obvious cause for this, it would seem sensible to attribute this to:
  • Declining capacity and support for charities (infrastructure) to develop and work potential applications for submission; impacting across the region but in some areas more significantly than others. (this view was reinforced by the clear reduction in numbers of funding advisors across the region reported to our EMFAN needs survey)
  • Many charities still waiting for a decision on their funding allocations (if any) from local authorities and other statutory bodies, awaiting to see if the ‘core’ is secured prior to applying for projects (although even those funders that do core costs are reporting a downturn in applications)
We approached Gary Beharrell, Chair of the EM Funding Forum and Regional Manager for Lloyds TSB Charitable Trust who commented:

"Stalling and cuts in statutory funding to the sector seems to have had an additional unintended consequence, in that this is also reducing applications to independent funders. The combined result will be significantly less investment into communities overall at a time of great need and this is a factor both LA’s and other funders need to address."

This is an odd quandary and may be a result of either groups being too stretched and under-resourced to manage additional bidding processes OR a misguided general feeling that there is no money out there and therefore we won’t waste our time applying.

The message is loud and clear – funding is available but it won’t come looking for you. Get out there and get those application forms filled in. For information on your nearest source of funding advice visit

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