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How to get ready to apply for and manage funds

Before you apply for funding, stop! Is your organisation ready?

This guide, aimed at small charities, community groups and clubs, looks at the five things that matter to funders and are tips to get you ready for applying for and managing the money.

Completing these simple steps to good governance will enable you to make positive progress on your fundraising journey.

1

Check that your structure is legal

When applying to funders you should think about the impact of the potential funding. With just a couple of grants, you could grow quickly and therefore have to review your structure. (For example: if you are an unincorporated organisation with an income of above £5,000 per year you are required to register with the Charity Commission.) Check out Knowhow Nonprofit's pages on legal structures. 

Get Legal has a simple Decision Tool to help you review and choose your structure. The tool also provides template documents such as constitutions.

Some funding streams have rules about the types of organisations who can apply. For example they may limit applications to Charitable Trusts or exclude Community Interest Company. Make sure that you know what type of organisation yours is.

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2. Practise ‘Good Governance’

Governance is the systems and processes concerned with ensuring the overall direction, effectiveness, supervision and accountability of an organisation. Good governance is essential to attract funders.

Simple steps for good governance:

  • do committee members understand their roles and responsibilities?
  • do committee members have relevant skills and experience?
  • is the organisation doing what it was set up to do?
  • does your organisation have a written plan or strategy?
  • do you hold regular structured meetings?


The Charity Governance Code for small organisations is a free simple guide with six key principles to good governance.

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3. Deliver safe activities

Funders will need to know how you keep people safe. They will require copies of your safeguarding polices. NSPCC provides guidance on safeguarding best practise including free policy templates.

It may be appropriate to include some of the costs of safeguarding in your application such as:

  • Disclosure and Baring Service (DBS) costs
  • first aid kits and training
  • child protection training
  • vulnerable adults training
  • health and safety signs and equipment
  • insurance.
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4. Practise good money management

How good is your organisation at managing money? Before applying for funding you should have basic money management systems in place. Usually funders request:

  • your organisation’s bank details
  • details of cheque signatories
  • proof of income and expenditure
  • budget and accounts.

Need help managing money?

This Resource Centre guide to not-for-profit bank accounts is useful if you need to open a new account or move your existing one for a better deal. These other guides: Financial Rules, Your Group’s Money, and Role of the Treasurer will also help you be set up and ready to receive and manage grants appropriately. Knowhow Nonprofit's financial management pages may also be useful.

How much funding do you need?

Create a ‘Budget’ for your organisation providing both ‘Capital’ and ‘Revenue’ Costs.

- Capital Costs = One-off purchases like equipment or furniture.
- Revenue Costs = Running costs such as insurance and rent.

  • Write down all of your outgoing costs - ‘expenditure’
  • Create a ‘Wish List’ of items you would like and new proposed activities
  • Use this information to write a budget.

Need a template budget?

Our planning and budgeting pages have some useful tips and links

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5. Record your results

When you receive a grant, some funders will require you to provide feedback on:

  • your project’s progress
  • how much of their grant has been spent.

This feedback is called ‘Funder Monitoring’.  It may include statistics, evidence and quotes to demonstrate the impact you are making.

You should check what level of funder monitoring is required before applying for a grant. And consider whether you will realistically be able to meet their requirements. If the answer is no, don’t apply for the grant. If measuring and monitoring results is a challenge, only apply to funders with simple feedback or no monitoring.

Further information

This guide is based on a Tennyson Insurance blog post from January 2015 written by fundraising consultant Gemma Kingsman.

Tennyson is now part of Zurich Insurance

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Page last edited Aug 03, 2018 History

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