When it comes to grant funding, we’re all guilty of ploughing the same furrow, especially if it has reaped dividends in the past. It’s a tough funding environment, there are still £billions in grant funding available but there are over 165,000 other organisations in the voluntary sector vying for that same funding. To be successful you need to think about how to stand out from the crowd.

Understand the landscape your project operates in

We can all be a bit insular at times. We know why our organisation and the projects we work on are needed; after all we speak to our beneficiaries all the time, and we care about our work.

But do we regularly stop and give ourselves space to think about how our work fits into the wider external environment?

To make the most of funding opportunities we need to know the motivation behind them. Do your stakeholder analysis. Get to know:

  • funders who fund your type of projects. What are their aims and priorities right now?
  • what’s going on in your area – from your location to your part of the sector?
  • what are the needs of other local and/or similar organisations?
  • what are the hot topics that politicians and the media are talking about?

The environment around us is constantly changing. We need to know and understand the latest trends so we’re best placed to take advantage of them.

Visit the support and advice section on Funding Central for more information.

Match funding opportunities to your priorities – rather than the other way around

If we are honest, when times are tight we’ve all chased funding that probably wasn’t right. But let’s say it again and then again louder: don’t get distracted by funding that’s not right for your project. It’s going to waste a lot of your time and not really deliver on what’s important to your organisation (therefore your beneficiaries).

Your organisation has a vision, a mission and strategy for what you want to deliver, stick to that.

Of course you’ll want to explore new areas and projects but if they start falling outside your organisation’s scope then you need to have a fresh look at your strategy and see if it needs to change to help bring some focus.

Look for different types of funding opportunities

If you rely on one funder or one income stream, the effect of any changes to that income can be disastrous for your organisation and your beneficiaries. We know only too well that it’s hard work to replace funding for a project completely funded by one income stream.

Diversification is key to a sustainable future, so mix it up when it comes to income streams and to funders.