Working in the voluntary sector
Working in the voluntary sector

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Working in the voluntary sector

3 Asking other organisations for money

At some point, most voluntary organisations attempt to raise money from writing a grant application to funding bodies, trusts and foundations. In common with much fundraising, such applications might be done by staff, trustees or volunteers, depending on the size of the organisation and the nature of the application.

Grants usually involve large amounts of money and are for a specific project or activity. Writing an application is time consuming: there are no guarantees of success and, as you saw in Activity 2, grants are increasingly sought-after. Often, staff, volunteers and trustees in smaller organisations embark on writing an application for the first time and with no outside help. Activity 4 introduces some of the issues that might arise during this process.

Activity 4 Dealing with the process

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

Listen to Anna Page (whom you met in Activity 1) talking about the challenges of compiling a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. What positive and negative aspects of writing a grant application does she mention?

Download this video clip.Video player: volb2_week5_anna_video3-640x360.mp4
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Then when it came to trying to get lottery grants, we looked into various grant awarding bodies, and we thought, OK, how do we get grants for things? And the paperwork is quite frightening, and it’s very, very off-putting. And you have to prove all sorts of things.
But actually, it’s extremely helpful as well because it makes you realise that there are reasons for asking all those questions. And it helps you to start thinking about different ways of doing things yourself. So you might of tried things a certain way for a while. And then you have to start thinking of a different way of doing them because actually you’ve got to meet the requirements of a particular grant body.
And it challenges you, and it challenges the team. And you then work together in a different way. And you also build up more volunteers that way as well.
So, ultimately, we actually learned an awful lot from going through the grant application process. And it was gruelling. It was boring at times. It felt like as if we were never going to get to the end of it.
The first time around with the Heritage Lottery fund, we did not succeed, but they gave us fantastic feedback. And the second time around, we thought, right, different approach. Try it again. And because we went and actually set up a meeting with them and asked them lots of questions, we then really knew what they were aiming for.
And so then we thought, right, we’ve got to address every single one of these things and do it really well. And then when we got that call, I can’t tell you how wonderful that was. I was on cloud nine for days.
And I couldn’t talk about it to anybody apart from the immediate team because we had to keep it quiet until the publicity machine was allowed to roll into action. And ever since then, February last year, we have been absolutely relentless on this thing. And it’s been brilliant, but it’s been very tiring too.
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In terms of positive aspects, Anna says that the process challenged them to think in different ways. They were able to involve more volunteers and they learned a lot, particularly in terms of thinking about what the funding body wanted, which made them more methodical in addressing all the questions.

Negative aspects included the paperwork being off-putting, relentless and tiring. The team undoubtedly felt downhearted when they were rejected the first time, but they turned it into a positive experience by learning from it.


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