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Welcome to the first part of the new NCVO website. While we finish building it, you will find the rest of our help and guidance on our existing site.

Grant funding is one great way of raising money to run projects that make a difference to people’s lives. But it isn’t always the right place to start. Work through this list to see if grant funding will be the right thing for you.

Timing

Is one of these things true?

  • There are at least three months (and ideally six or nine months) between now and when we want to start spending the money.
  • We are in a crisis and an emergency fund has opened with a rapid response time.

If neither of these are true, then you should not be looking for grants to raise the money you need right now.

Example

No Waste is a food charity run from an office block by volunteers. They collect food donations from restaurants, shops and takeaways and give them out. They have never applied for funding before. During Covid 19 they want to deliver food instead of people having to come and collect it. They see a small local grant with a quick deadline and fast decision process. It helps them get equipment to run a bicycle delivery service safely.

Bank account

Do you have a bank account with two or more signatories or could you get one easily for your organisation?

You should have a bank account or a plan to get one before you start looking for grants.

Status of your organisation

  • Do you have a constitution or set of rules that you use to run your organisation?
  • Do you know what type of organisation you are?

Almost all grant funders will need you to have a constitution.

Different funders will fund different types of organisation. Some only fund registered charities. Others fund a much wider range of organisations with different constitutions. This includes clubs and societies (called unincorporated organisations), partnerships, companies (known as limited by guarantee), social enterprises and others. Many funders will expect you to have a 'not for profit' statement in your constitution if you're not a charity. But some grants are even open to profit-making businesses.

Example

All stars kids basketball don’t usually need money. They use a school court for free and parents do all the coaching. They have no idea what kind of organisation they are. When they want to raise money to go to training events in another area they speak to the school office. They find a constitution in their files. They discover they are an unincorporated association. They use the constitution to open a bank account and follow its rules to start planning for grant applications.

To be grant ready you need to know what type of organisation you are. But you must make sure that you choose the right type of organisation for your work. Don’t pick your organisation type just to get grant funding.

Money

How much money do you need?

If you need less than £500–£1000 to get your project started, you can look at other ways of raising money before applying for grants. Donations from individuals or community businesses are a good place to start.

Example

A group of teenagers want to set up a project visiting older people in their community to reduce fear. They want to raise money for publicity materials and for advice and support to make it safe. They get a place on a free local training course about grant funding, but then decide to try crowdfunding while they wait. They email local businesses and freelancers to ask for rewards. They raise enough money to start the project.

You can get grants for small amounts of money. But we believe that other types of fundraising will usually take less time and effort and spread that effort between more people.

Type of project

What are you aiming to do and who are you aiming to help?

Different grant funders fund different types of work. Talk to other people doing similar things to you. Find out if your type of project is often supported by grants.

Some of the most common types of projects supported by grants

  • Projects supporting communities in need, especially communities that experience high levels of poverty or exclusion.
  • Educational projects.
  • Arts or sports projects.
  • Health or wellbeing projects.

Next steps

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 November 2020

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