Top 10 tips to help voluntary groups get Covid emergency funding

By Mark Andrews | Coronavirus | Published:

As the coronavirus crisis makes it more difficult for charities and community groups to access funding, the boss of a West Midland funding group has drawn up a list of 10 tips to maximise the chances of securing grants.

Steve Adams, chief executive of the Community Foundation for Staffordshire

Steve Adams, chief executive of the Community Foundation for Staffordshire, has come up with a list of 'dos and don'ts' when it comes securing funding.

Mr Adams has more than 20 years' experience in making grants and managing funds for the voluntary sector. His team distributes more than £1 million every year in Staffordshire on behalf of the Government, European Union, local authorities, businesses, and philanthropists.

At the moment the foundation is focusing on distributing funding from the National Emergency Fund, of which the Duke of Cambridge is the President. The organisation targets small, grass-roots activities that can be activated immediately making sure the money is spent on delivery, not administration.

Mr Adams said: “Many people are apprehensive about applying for emergency funding. We are here to help. We want to help. We are currently processing small grants within 48 hours and manage much bigger applications quickly as well.”

He said the foundation was also talking to local businesses which wished to support their communities and was assisting local authorities across the county with their schemes.

“We are making sure administration is not a hindrance and making sure the money is delivered where it can make a difference quickly,” he added.

Mr Adams' 10 top tips to apply for Covid-19 emergency funds:

  1. Make sure you are applying to the right fund for the right thing. Different funds have different criteria so be sure that the fund you are applying to can consider your request.
  2. Sell your organisation. This is a common error: don’t assume the funder knows every organisation. Communicate about your organisation – what you usually do, who you are trying to support and what your ‘normal’ service would be. Always ask someone not connected to your organisation read your application.
  3. Tell us what you want to do. For emergency grants we ask you three questions: (a) What you want to do with any funding in detail and how you will do it. (b) How the people you are trying to help are disadvantaged. Often projects are dealing with one part of that specifically, so just tell us about the part that you will be dealing with. (c) What you hope you will achieve – how will things be better for them?
  4. Location, location, location. Tell us about the location you will be working in. We can support projects that are working across the whole county, across part of the county, in a city or borough or district, a village or hamlet, on an estate or even down to a few streets.
  5. Breakdown your costs, show you have costed your project. Sometimes a project may be eligible but certain costs are not. If you do not provide a breakdown of costs, we may have to come back to you for more information, and that could delay your application. It also means that if we are only able to part fund a project then we can still allocate funding to you for some of your costs. No breakdown, no money.
  6. Tell us about the type of people you hope to support. This is slightly different to the section asking about disadvantage. It is based on a pick list so you can choose which type of need you will be addressing – whether that is health, or fitness, or isolation or so on. We also ask for demographic breakdowns, but this is again done through a pick list. We don’t expect you to support every demographic and there are good reasons as to why you may not be able to do this, and a decision will not go against you if your project is focused on a narrow group of people.
  7. Tell us if you are working with any other organisations. We love collaborative projects as they often help to target a wider group of people. You might be working with other voluntary sector organisations, or a parish or town council, or a local authority or maybe a health authority. It does not go against you if you are working with other organisations and could work in your favour.
  8. Be realistic. Don’t be tempted to try to make your project sound bigger than it is. We can see the value in projects and quite often a small- or medium-sized project can have a more targeted impact. We really like funding those sorts of projects. We know some projects are bigger and are because of their nature. Just be realistic, don’t over sell because you think big is beautiful.
  9. Be clear and concise. Don’t use lots of jargon or buzzwords and try to blind with science or statistics. Write from the heart and be quite clear in how you intend to work. We have deliberately simplified our application process to make this fund easier to apply to and to produce a quicker turnaround. Your application shouldn’t take any more than half an hour to complete.
  10. Don’t be disheartened if the application fails. We are always looking at ways to help, and if you are not successful at first it doesn’t mean that it is not a worthy project, or that we don’t think it’s needed. It might just mean that we haven’t been able to prioritise it at that time. If that is the case we will always look at our other schemes to see if it is a better fit for one of those, or we may recommend it to another funder.

For more information call The Community Foundation on 01785 339540 or email

Mark Andrews

By Mark Andrews

Senior news writer for the Shropshire Star specialising in in-depth features and commentary, investigative reporting and political matters.


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