Tips for making a good funding application

by Chris Trevorrow. May 2022.

purple background. Jars of coins with plants growing out of them. CCVS logo. Making a Good funding application

1. Are you ready to apply?

Have you got a constitution and a management committee?

Do you have key policies, procedures and insurance in place?

 Are your accounts up to date?

 Have you submitted any outstanding reports to previous funders?

Do you have the permissions needed to undertake your project for example permission from your landlord for alterations to a building.

2. What are you applying for?

What beneficiary need are you meeting?

What outcomes and activities will you deliver?

Who will run things, and do they have the required skills and experience?

What do you want to spend the funders money on?

When will your activity take place?  Will the funder decide in time? Most funders will not fund something that has already happened.

3. Can you make a convincing case for support?:

What is the challenge?

Who is need and why?

What do those in need want?  Are your beneficiaries involved in developing your ideas?

Why is this the solution the one to back and why is your group best placed to do it?

4.    Can you provide evidence of need? For example,

Do you have credible up to date research?

Evidence of unmet need?

Letters of support?

5.    Is your budget realistic and offering value for money?  Does it add up correctly?

6.    Find potential funders

Who might fund your activity? Is it a good match for their stated priorities? Will they fund the items you are asking for? Will the timing of their decisions work for your project?

Search for funders using the Support Cambridgeshire 4 Community online funding portal

Check out funders own data on what and who they have funded via GrantNav

Search the accounts of similar charities to your own to see who funded them, you can find information on the Charity Commission register

Sign up to Support Cambridgeshire funding alerts

Contact CCVS for other ideas

Successful fundraising – notes from our workshop

by Chris Trevorrow. April 2022.

‘Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching people the joy of giving’ Hank Rosso

Leading trends[1] in income generation for voluntary groups in 2022 include a continued reliance on digital even with the reintroduction of face to face and the hybrid approaches that accommodate both options.  Alongside this is the growth of peer-to-peer fundraising – think Captain Tom and all those who emulated him but with fewer zeros – and the need to continue to accommodate cashless donations even for face-to-face fundraisers. 

At the same time, we are entering tough economic times making it essential that voluntary groups develop a fundraising strategy, building a case for support which they can communicate and share with all their stakeholders and engage and retaining a strong supporter base.  A fundraising strategy pulls together information about your objectives and identifies what you need and how you’ll achieve it

A fundraising plan helps manage resources often using a calendar to map out key dates and deadlines both internal and external to an organisation.  In developing a plan, a group needs to consider the fundraising channels and tools that will work for them.

  • individual giving might involve an old-fashioned collection but with a cashless option.  There are a wide range of options using smart phones that don’t require a card reader  Pledjar donation app, QR codes eg Bopp, Give Star
  • Utilising donation functions on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram
  • Selecting the right gift giving platform to encourage your supporters to fundraise for you
  • Ensuring face to face events deliver a good return on resources and cost see Cabinet office guide to organising an event
  • Hybrid events can combine the best of in-person and digital by increasing participation, limiting environmental impact and being cost effective.  People might pay a premium for the inperson experience but others can also take part and donate if you live stream the event for example on Facebook

Successful fundraisers seek to build an ongoing dialogue with supporters, encouraging them to give by clearly communicating the difference the group makes to people in an engaging and motivating way.  They look to build the supporter relationship making connections and thanking them properly. 

Key factors in fundraising success:

  • Know your audience and what matters to them
  • Engage and inspire through stories
  • Create a sense of buy in before you make an ask
  • Make donation frictionless
  • Create a time limited campaign
  • Link to external events 
  • Thank supporters and share success
  • Make everyone in your organisation a fundraiser

If you would like to discuss fundraising with us, please get in touch at

[1] Top Fundraising trends for 2022 Charity Digital

CIOF research trends

Funding Opportunity

Weston Charity Awards
The Weston Awards focus is on community, welfare or youth charities with at least one paid full-time member of staff in a leadership position and an income of less than £5 million per year.   The awards help charities to plan for sustainability, development and growth through a ten month-long programme. Award holders finish the process stronger, more effective and fit for the future, including:   Access to the Pilotlight 360 programme — a ten-month package of leadership coaching worth an estimated £16,000.Unrestricted grants of £6,500 to support the work with Pilotlight.   Background information and a simple, five question application – click here.   There will be an information session run, entirely optional, to explain more on this on Wednesday 15 December 2021, 08:00 – 09:00 and Thursday 6 January 2022, 09:30 – 10:30 – register here.

An opportunity not to be wasted?

A guest post from Liz Hughes writing in a personal capacity on charity shops and the possible ‘new normal’. You can follow Liz on LinkedIn

As charity shops prepare to re-open I am wondering when I will next visit one. Pre COVID-19 I was a regular charity shop browser. I loved this green and frugal form of consumerism – a purchase meeting a need or desire, while also offering the warm glow you get from supporting a charity. It wasn’t that I was looking for a particular book or item, it was speculative shopping for me, purchases were the product of happy happenstance. Any discovery being even more of a prize for having been unexpected. But have shopping habits changed in the last twelve weeks?

Charities have been missing the income from their shops (valued at £295 million a year by Charity Retail), and I imagine the community has also been missing the wider good these high street stores do for both donors and buyers. If we didn’t have this glorious cycle of giving and getting things, then arguably we would need to invent it. But in the aftermath of COVID 19 is there an opportunity to look to see if we can reinvent buying from charity shops?

As charity shops reopen in the coming weeks it remains to be seen if we all assume old buying habits. During the lockdown it seemed strange to think that we crowded into small stores to pick through items, when we knew nothing about where they had come from or who had handled them. For a while I have wondered why charity shops have not changed more in response to technological, community and consumer changes over recent years. As we all take steps to move forward in the shadow of COVID 19 is there an opportunity for a creative discussion about how we might reimagine charity shops?

Many former charity shop volunteers have been shielding or isolating and there has been an appeal for new and younger volunteers, as many charity shops have an older volunteer base.  But could we need more than to try and replicate what we had before with a younger workforce?

Many charity shops are small and will find it hard to effectively accommodate social distancing. This could be compounded by the long-time trend for people to shop online more, which has also been accelerated by the crisis. There will also be an issue of trust and safety as people will wonder how they ensure the items in store are not contaminated with the virus.

From my perspective browsing in charity shops was a pastime rather than an efficient way to shop, where purchases were often luck and happenstance rather than a way of reliably finding new clothes for rapidly growing children, or for locating a particular book I was looking for. Are there other ways to deliver the benefits of charity shops, perhaps using technological platforms and partnership working? Could charities work together, to make searching through their combined stock easier to find what you might be looking for? Is anyone interested in having a conversation about what charity shops could become in the future?

In a community the size of Cambridge is there a real opportunity to collectively create a smarter way of operating the stores which could in turn create more benefit and perhaps also have a smaller environmental footprint?

Not another ……… survey – The five reasons why we do an annual survey

Every year along with our partners from Support Cambridgeshire we carry out a survey of Cambridgeshire charities and community groups, and every year this survey joins the list of surveys that land in peoples inboxes and flashes across their social media feeds. So why do we do it!

Guest blog from Mark Freeman the CCVS CEO and the question master.

Tick with words asking people to take part in the 2020 Survey of Cambridgeshire community Groups and Charities and the Support Cambridgeshire logo
If you are in any way involved in a Cambs charity or community group please take the survey

Doing the annual survey was one of the first things that landed on my lap when I started at CCVS and it still seems to be there, but why do I bother. Here are my 5 reasons, they are specific to the work CCVS and Support Cambs does but are equally applicable for other charities and community groups.

  1. It helps us to develop our services.

As a member organisation dedicated to supporting charities and community groups it is essential that we are delivering what is needed. A big part of knowing what groups want is found out by asking them as part of the survey. These are Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘known unknows’, in other words those areas that groups identify where they need more training or support. If we aren’t delivering these services then we will not be seen as relevant and groups will go elsewhere for support.

  1. It is a perfect way to demonstrate need.

Funders want to know what the need is for the project you are asking them to fund. This is fare enough as they want to fund work that will solve a demonstrable issue. The survey gives us information on the needs of those we work with and allows us to develop new ways to meet those needs, it then gives us the evidence we need for the funders. Local intelligence is a real boon when answering the need question and fills in gaps that national research and information often leaves.

  1. It gives us invaluable insights.

As well as the support side of CCVSs work there is the championing and advocacy role we have for the wider charitable sector across Cambridgeshire. We want to be able to highlight what the sector does, how big it is and what might be stopping it making an even bigger difference. The survey gives us information on this and helps us to understand the ‘state of the sector’. When we are then talking about the sector we have facts and figures that help us make our point, combine this with stories and examples and we are able to build a stronger case and tell a clearer story.

  1. It gives us feedback on what we do.

We have to get people to fund us and this often means we have to demonstrate that we make a difference. For support organisations this is often difficult to measure and the survey allows us to collect valuable satisfaction data. It gives us an opportunity to (hopefully) shout about how well received our work is, it generates a number of nice recommendations and it shows that we are needed.

  1. It gets me through my ‘why do I bother’ patches.

OK, maybe it is only me that sometimes asks “why am I doing this”; as I write another report, try and balance another budget or try and fix the IT/phone/building problems that people seem to assume that I have an answer for.

We are really lucky that we get some fantastic comments about the team, and the work they do as part of the survey. Every so often I simply look back through these and it acts as my very own fast charger, a couple of minutes re-reading the comments gives me the energy and the enthusiasm to keep going. If we were a shiny tech company we would get these painted on office walls, or made into mouse mats or mugs, or written on the side of busses – but I don’t have time or a budget; simply reading them every so often will have to do for now!

The survey is a lot of work, it is a real team effort to try and get people to fill it in, but it gives us a valuable insight into the local charitable sector, it allows us to do our job better, and it helps with fundraising. I firmly believe that it is one of the most important pieces of work we do every year.

If you have anything to do with a Cambridgeshire charity or community group please fill the survey in.

In return I will find some funding to get mugs and mouse mats made for the team.