Paying for a charity

a prize from Mashed

I’ve mentioned a few times here before that I am a trustee of a youth volunteering charity. We started it a few years ago, and do a lot of very cool stuff with thousands of young people across the region.

And this isn’t cheap. Staff are the biggest expense, followed by rent and an array of other bills.

A common question I get from friends not familiar with charity funding is “where do you get the money from?”.

The short answer is “anywhere we can!”.

There are a number of charitable trusts, funds, and other pots of money around. The first job is to find them. Google is good for this. And there are some directories like fResource that are good. Other than that, it’s word-of-mouth. We go to enough conferences and events, am on enough mailing lists, and keep in touch with other people in the sector that we get to hear of new pots of money worth going for.

They all have different application procedures. They all typically start with an application form. These can be very brief (few pages?) or hideously long. I think the longest one we’ve had to do was over 60 pages. Eurgh. With the bigger pots of money, there will normally be more steps after this… interviews, for example, aren’t unusual.

Whatever the approach, the idea is that you have to convince them that you will do something pretty cool with their money. And something that will help them achieve whatever goals, or tick whatever boxes, that they have.

This is what we’ve got confirmed so far for the 2008/09 financial year.

V for projects across Hampshire £249,956 of which £126,867 is for SYA*
V for projects in Southampton and Isle of Wight £149,885 of which £113,885 is for SYA*
V for projects in Portsmouth £79,919
Big Lottery Fund for Southampton £53,805
V ‘Strand 2’ funding for projects across Hampshire £87,089 of which £43,545 is for SYA*
BLF for projects in Southampton £17,258
Children In Need for a project across Hampshire £12,532
Youth Opportunity Fund for a project in Eastleigh £7,550
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation for various youth-led projects £916
Eastleigh Borough Council for youth-led projects in Eastleigh £800
TOTALS £659,710 of which £457,077 is for SYA

Hopefully more stuff will come along during the year – applying for funds is an ongoing, year-round activity. But we’re in pretty good shape to start the year off.

* The last year has seen an increasing emphasis from the big funders on collaborative, consortium bids. For most of our funding from V, we submitted applications jointly with other voluntary services organisations in neighbouring geographical areas. As the lead agency and coordinator for these bids, the whole pot of money comes to us. But we have to give some of it to the other consortium members.

Some charities get all of their funding from a single place. There are good reasons for this – they don’t spend all year searching for, and applying for, new sources of money. And at the end of the year, they report their outcomes to a single evaluating funder.

Alternatively, other charities spread their income across several sources. It means that changes in priorities from a single funder can be absorbed by funding from alternate sources. However, it makes tracking work done for funding from each source harder, and requires reporting outcomes to different funders in different formats.

For this year, the v funding application was quite involved, leaving less time to work on other bids. By way of comparison, our 2007/08 funding income was more like this:

v £73,311
Big Lottery Fund £54,040
Local Area Agreement £22,000
Big Lottery Play £12,750
Children In Need £12,000
Global Grants £10,000
Garfield Weston £9,400
Hampshire County Council £8,630
Brookvale Youth Mental Health £6,000
Connexions £5,000
Hampshire County Youth Service £4,500
Volunteer Fundraising £4,100
Youth Opportunity Fund £4,000
Southampton Childrens’ Fund £2,050
Southampton NHS / Primary Care Trust £2,000
Awards for All £2,000
Eastleigh Borough Council £800
Eastleigh Community Services £300

It was a more even split. v was still the biggest single funder, but we didn’t get the majority of our funding from them.

However you split it, the money is out there. If you’re willing to spend the time begging, pleading, cajoling and blagging, then there are organisations out there willing to give money for charitable projects.

Finally, if you find this stuff interesting, I’m always on the lookout for new trustees. The more people I have, the more funding sources we can find, and the more funding bids we can submit. If you would like to give up some of your free time to work on this sort of thing, please give me a shout!

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