Tips on applying for grant funding

Written by Izzy Attwood

So, you’re thinking about applying for grant funding…

It was thanks to Grow Wild UK's youth grant that we were able to put on our Buzzing About Wildflowers mobile photography workshop at Kew Gardens in March. Grow Wild's funding offers young people aged 14-25 the chance to apply for ÂŁ500 of funding to bring projects that celebrate UK native wildflowers and fungi to life. It's helped a number of amazing projects around the country - take a look at those here.

Unfortunately, Grow Wild's funding period for 2018/2019 has now closed. Keep an eye out for information related to the 2019/2020 period opening! There are lots of other sources of funding though, and it's a great way to access funds to do something exciting and important. Some application processes might look daunting, but they're often not as bad as they look! As we were successful in securing our youth funding from Grow Wild, I wanted to share my tips for getting your application in and making it stand out from the rest.

Coming up with an amazing idea:

The nitty-gritty details don’t need to be worked out when you make your application. That comes later! Whether it’s a workshop in your unit, a big build project with your division, a day event or a trip, you just need a great idea that will help inspire others.

When coming up with an idea think about the following:

  • Who will you offer it to?
  • What are you trying to teach/show people?
  • How do you want people to feel after seeing or taking part in your project?
  • What’s the primary focus of your project?
  • What’s are the other focuses of your project?
  • What do you need to fulfil your project?

Thinking about these questions really helped us to plan out what we wanted the project to be and turn it from an abstract thought into the beginnings of a viable event.

When it came to Buzzing About Wildflowers, we wanted to offer a group of Hive-aged members in Girlguiding LaSER the chance to take part in a photography workshop, teaching them new photography skills that they would hopefully take with them and use after the event. We wanted the workshop to focus on plant life. We wanted participants to feel inspired by the project and show other people what they had learned, as well as inviting more people to take part via a downloadable PDF of the workshops. Our primary focus was to teach those attending the event about mobile photography and encourage them to put what they had learned into practice at the venue we chose, making sure they had fun the whole time! Our secondary focus was to teach participants (both at the event and in the PDF) about the importance of UK wildflowers and how we can see a different side to them through photography. When we made our application, we knew we needed: a venue with plenty of flowers for participants to take pictures of, a meeting room big enough to seat everyone, and someone to give the workshops. We also included mobile chargers, lunch, travel costs and some photography accessories into our plans to provide more inspiration.

Answering those questions led to a version of the paragraph above. That paragraph then became the script for our application video!

Making your application:

For Grow Wild’s application, we had to fill in a form briefly outlining our project and then link that form to a video giving more details. Not all youth grants will require you to do this, but as it was a significant part of our application I wanted to share how I made it a bit easier!

When deciding what to say, try to include the following in your video:

  1. Give your project a name.
  2. Tell us your idea and why you want to do it.
  3. How will it accomplish the goals of the organisation funding it? (In our case, how will it celebrate wildflowers?)
  4. Where will you do it, who will help and what will they do?
  5. How will you share what you have achieved or learnt with others?
  6. What will you use the funding for?

Specific applications might have other questions they want you to answer, but answering these questions will help you nail down what you want your project to accomplish. Even if you don't have to record a video, they're still a good base to defining your project so it's still worth thinking about.

Recording a video:

Listening to yourself on a recording is never fun (at least for me!) but as it was only being shown to the panel that decides who gets the youth funding, it didn’t seem so bad. I ended up propping my phone on the coffee table in the lounge and using the selfie camera to record myself.

Some things to make it easier are:

  • Having your script nearby. This could be fully typed out or in bullet points, but having something to prompt you nearby will help if you find yourself a bit stuck! I positioned it next to my phone, so I could sneak glances at it if I needed it. You can also just read from your script if you find that easier.
  • Doing it with some friends! Share the screen time and divide the main points between you. This is especially good if you're undertaking the project as a group. You could all be in the same shot, or you could record different shots and stitch them together. I preferred doing it by myself as I felt like I could make mistakes as much as I wanted, and no one would ever know! However, it might not seem so daunting if you’re not doing it alone.
  • Not worrying if you mess up. Whether you blank in the middle of a sentence, fluff up a word or it’s just not going right (all three happened to me!) the easiest thing to do is to either stop the video and start again, or just let the recording continue, gather your thoughts and start speaking again when you’re ready. That way you can just redo the bit that went wrong rather than the whole thing. Once I had the best recording, I used my phone to cut out the bits where I fluffed up some lines! By being able to edit it afterwards, you're not worried about getting the perfect take. You can also take a break if you need to and come back to it later. If no one wants to be on camera, you could make a video showing images/videos of what you’d like to do for your project and add in a voiceover.
  • Not worrying about the quality of the video. Ours was just me in my selfie camera sat in my lounge. It was a tad jumpy in places where I’d cut bits out, but it got our idea across and ended up successfully securing our funding!
  • Being passionate about your project. Try and make your passion and excitement about the project come across in your videos. Nerves are fine of course, but if you don't seem like you're excited to bring your project to life, the panel might not be either.

Once you have your video under the time limit, you’ll likely need to upload it to a video hosting site such as YouTube or Vimeo. This is because the video will be too large to attach to the application form, so by having the other site host your video you can just share the link in your application. I already had a YouTube account (anyone with a Google account will have one, but they’re easy to make if not) so I just uploaded it onto there and copied the link into the application.

Finding a supporting organisation

Individuals usually can’t receive the funding into their own bank accounts, so you'll often need a supporting organisation for your project to help oversee it and to be in charge of the money should you be successful.

As The Hive is part of Girlguiding LaSER, they became our supporting organisation. We’re lucky, because Girlguiding makes the perfect supporting organisation! Whether it’s your county, division, district or unit, any level can be used as a supporting organisation as long as:

  • They are an established and relevant organisation that is charitable in purpose or not for profit – which we are!
  • They can be financially responsible for the project with a bank account in the name of their organisation, or in the name of a local authority/other public sector body where relevant.
  • Able to provide a member of staff or volunteer to liaise with the funding organisation and support the applicants as required e.g. help with access to facilities and equipment, publicity of activities, advice and guidance.

As Girlguiding members, the first two are simple as they’re required for every unit. But you’ll need to have someone on board to act as a liaison. This could be a leader in your unit for example, so if you have an idea be sure to discuss it with them!

Whoever your supporting organisation and liaison will be (it doesn’t have to be Girlguiding and could be another volunteer group or school) it might be a good idea to show them what you'll be applying for and check if the funding organisation has any information for supporting organisations or liaisons.

Submit your application

So, you’ve got your idea, filmed your application video, found your supporting organisation and filled in the form. All that’s left to do is click submit!

Hopefully seeing the application process outlined by someone who has just done it will inspire you to apply.

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