Whether you’re approaching large or small funders, private trusts or companies – the same guidance will apply to getting funding.
Your great idea
What would you like to do? Who will benefit from your project and how? Understanding this is central to knowing which funders to approach. Get key members of your community group together for a ‘brainstorming session’ to find out what ideas they have or what problems they would like to solve.
What is really needed?
Consult the community in which you’re planning to work to gather feedback about your idea and what change is needed locally. Think about how different groups could get involved, young people might be keen to do some gardening and want to learn new skills and older people may have lived in the area for a while and have good connections with lots of skills to share with others.
It’s always a good idea to work with others if you can – some funders actually require you to work in partnership, to share skills and resources to help improve the area. Working with other local organisations can strengthen both organisations’ work. Your group will have the gardening skills, and a partner might have experience supporting the specific audience you want to reach. Working in partnership will save resources and open up more funding opportunities.
Outcomes and evaluation
Funders will often want you to report back honestly on the success of your project and any lessons you have learnt – you can use this information to create your next funding application. Many funders want you to share your successes with others to increase the impact of the project, so think about what you will communicate, how and to whom.
Build in some project evaluation from the start; think about how you will measure the changes your project will create. This doesn't need to be complicated. You could take photos before, during and after a green-space makeover to show the changes you've created. A simple tick-box questionnaire could show how people feel about their neighbourhood (maybe they feel it’s unsafe, un-cared for, has a lack of green spaces and no community spirit) before your project, and then show the changes that have taken place during and after.
Check you’re sure about the difference you’d like to make with your project and that the activities you’re planning will achieve your aims.
Things to consider before you start looking for funding
There is a lot of funding available out there but your group will only be eligible to apply for some of it depending on factors such as:
- Geographical location
- Group constitution (i.e. type of group)
- How you are run (e.g. staff, volunteers, working groups)
- Whether or not you have an organisational bank account
- What elements of your work you are applying for (e.g. core, project, capital)
- How big your group is
- The timing of your work
You can make sure you’re researching and accessing the right pots of funding by considering the points below which will help you prepare to start accessing funding:
- Know what type of group you are (e.g. charity, allotment association, constituted group) and how you are run/managed
- Set up a bank account in your group’s name – or find a conduit (another group to hold your grant for you)
- What is the purpose of your group? Have a paragraph which clearly and succinctly sets out what the aims of your group are and how you achieve this
- Skills audit – don’t rely on one person to complete the application. Play to your groups’ strengths and find out what transferrable skills, experience and local connections (council, businesses, schools, other community groups) people have e.g. who is good at IT, writing, research, evaluation, budgeting/finance
- Policies – many funders will ask for evidence of these so have them in place where relevant to your work:
- GDPR (data protection)
- Health and safety
- Risk assessment
- Public liability insurance
- Budget – keep simple financial records so that you can easily illustrate what your income is, what you most need funding for, and how much you need
Knowing where to look for available funding can be tricky. These are some ways you can start to look for relevant funding:
- Grant Nav’s 360 Giving Data shows you grants which have been made in your local area or by theme (e.g. community gardening, allotment associations). You can then contact organisations which have made relevant grants to find out if you are eligible
- Funds Online search
- My Funding Central
- Sign up to funding newsletters such as Grants Online, ensuring you get regular opportunities sent directly to you
- Directory of Social Change – these can usually be accessed via a CVS, library or other voluntary organisations
- Local voluntary support organisations (e.g. CVS, Voluntary Action) will often be able to direct you towards relevant funding, support with applications and volunteering. Some put on events and training relating to specific issues such as funding and safeguarding:
Links to funders
Some examples of funders are provided below. This is a small sample of what is out there. Always check their specific criteria, open dates and requirements before applying:
Large national funders
Gardening, growing and environmental specific
Large companies and service providers often have some form of foundation or community support available. Some examples are included below. Think about what companies there are in your local area and approach them directly to see what support might be available.
Local business and community sharing sites
You might want to approach smaller local business to see if they can donate money, time or products e.g. garden centres, builders’ merchants, DIY shops. You can also check out sites such as Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, Olio and Gumtree for free or reduced items.
Training and other resources