There are a number of steps involved in sourcing and applying for grant funding.
This section will talk you through each of them:
- Getting ready and organised
- Make sure you have a constitution with clear aims and objectives and consider obtaining charitable status for more credibility.
- Get your finances in order including setting up a bank account, producing regular financial statements (showing cash flow, balances, budgeting, deficits, reserves), and producing annual account reports.
- Identify who in your Shed has the knowledge or skills to put together a good funding application, and where you may need training or external support.
- Gather as much evidence as possible of the impact that your Shed has on individuals and the community. This could include letters of support, newspaper articles, testimonials or awards received.
Sourcing the funds
There tends to be four main sources of grant funding that are available to Men’s Sheds; lotteries, trusts and foundations, government funding and local authority funding.
National Lottery Community Fund, People’s Postcode Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund, Health Lottery, Irish National Lottery
Check the ‘funding’ section of each Lottery webpage or contact them via phone or email.
Trusts and Foundations
Private/individual family trusts (e.g. Robertson Trust), corporate trusts, governmental trusts (e.g. The Voluntary Action Fund), community trusts, supermarket foundations (e.g. ASDA Foundation), bank foundations (e.g. Lloyds Bank Foundation).
Refer to national funding databases, some examples are:
Check supermarket foundation/trust webpages, or contact them via phone or email.
Check bank foundation/trust webpages, or contact them via phone or email.
Community regeneration projects, people and communities projects, environmental projects
Check UK, Scottish, Welsh, NI or Ireland Government funding opportunity webpages (e.g. community funding)
Local Authority Funding (e.g. Councils, health services)
Community development funds, service level agreements, local budgeting
Check local authority bulletins online. Contact your local authority by phone or email for up to date information and to be added to mailing lists.
It is important to remember that funders and funding pots can be very different sizes, some may be small and local, and some may be some large and national. The table below gives some examples of the four main sources of grant funding available to your Shed:
Always be aware that there are two distinct types of funding offered by funders:
Project funding: for a project or activity that has clear deadlines and specifications from the funder. For example, funding that is only available for the purchase of poly-tunnels to help Sheds grow vegetables for their community.
Core funding: to cover the core cost of what you specify in your application (e.g. rent, equipment). This is often a fixed amount that must be spent within a given time frame.
The type of funding you apply for will depend on exactly what you need the money for. It can be very easy to think ‘any money is good money’ but this may not always be the case if there are restrictions to what you can do with it.
Applying for funds
Before you apply for any type of funds it is vital that you do your research. This includes finding out about funders’ objectives, application deadlines, eligibility criteria, who they might have previously funded, and their application form process. A typical application form will ask for the following information:
- The title or goal of your project.
- A short introduction to your organisation (e.g. aims and objectives, charity number/ legal status, years in operation, number of members).
- A detailed description of what the money will be used for, including a statement about what the funds will address and what might happen if you didn’t get the funds.
- A statement of how you might monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the funds and if a need has been met (e.g. keeping a numerical record of the amount of members who have benefited, recording individual’s stories/testimonies, using a feedback survey).
- A detailed breakdown of the costs of the project and where the money will be allocated (e.g. equipment, contractors).
- A statement about how you intend to financially sustain your organisation in the long-term (funders want to see that you have the ability to make yourselves financially sustainable so you are not purely reliant on grant funding). This may also include being transparent about reserved and unreserved funds you already have in your bank account.
- Additional support documents which may include letters of support from your community, newspaper articles about your shed, testimonials, and proof of awards received.
- The outcome.
Whether your application is successful or not, it is good etiquette to keep in contact with the funder, especially if you might apply for more money again in the future. They can provide useful feedback and tips.
- Thank the funder through a letter, email or phone call from the committee
- Make sure that the funder is acknowledged and recognised correctly (e.g. display their logo)
- Keep the funder up to date with your activities
- Adhere to any formal requirements for reports or monitoring.
- Don’t be disheartened, funding applications can be very competitive
- Get feedback on your application to find out where you went wrong
- Find out whether it is worth applying again
- ‘Recycle’ your application form wording to further develop it and use on future applications
- Keep applying to other funders.
If you are successful in your application, you will likely be expected to keep in touch with the funder to evaluate the success of the project and provide evidence of your spending.
For more information about grant funding for voluntary organisations please visit the national voluntary organisation support webpages listed in the resources section at the back of the toolkit.