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With so many targeted grants becoming available as a result of COVID-19, not-for-profits are finding themselves stretched to try and meet narrow criteria. Whilst it is important to attract funding to survive and see your organisation achieve its vision, bending too far can lead to mission wander, confusion for your team/beneficiaries and a very challenging impact report to write!
When a not-for-profit and a funder are compatible, the possibilities are endless. I have worked with Each Amazing Breath CIC (EAB) since its launch in 2014. EAB specialise in trauma smart, self-sustaining resilience building programmes in schools and communities facing considerable challenge.
Working closely with its two directors, I have seen the time taken to assess grants and funding opportunities before deciding whether or not to pursue them. This has seen our grant success rate sit comfortably at around 75%. Here are some examples of where the right funder has provided the opportunity for EAB to take its next developmental steps at exactly the right time.
A perfect match in 2019 was an Infrastructure Foundation. We had a 5% chance of securing this fund, so we felt honoured to have been chosen as one of three not-for-profits.  The Foundation provided wrap around support for scaling up from 15 schools per year to over 45. The process of application, grant management and reporting enabled us to take the time to cashflow forecast in new ways and identify team management efficiencies that enabled productivity to increase with no additional staffing requirements.
A perfect match in 2020 was through the Nottinghamshire Community Foundation. This fund enabled EAB to move its delivery online in response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Having never delivered any of their materials online before, this was a huge task and one that required careful planning to ensure safeguarding and quality assurance.
This grant has allowed EAB to support 65 schools and provide resilience building tools into tens of thousands of homes across the UK. Now, EAB is developing this delivery model further, considering future applications of its new online approach.  
Finding your perfect match isn’t as hard as it sounds. The golden rule is ‘do your homework’. Spend time finding out as much as you can about the funder and the specific grant you want to apply to.
Ask yourself:
  • Do you meet ALL the eligibility criteria?
  • Do the aims of the grant and your organisation match?
  • Have you read the guidelines? Have you read them again?
  • Have they funded projects like yours in the past, if so, what makes yours unique?
  • Who are the Trustees? Do their passions align with your organisations?
  • What is their style of impact capture? Do they prefer data or stories; does this match    what you can deliver as an organisation?
  • What is their ethos? Is it all about them as a funder or the organisations and participants they support?
  • Are they hands on? Do you want them to be involved in your organisation?
The pressure to find funding at this time is immense but take your time to find the right match and build your case for support around why and how you make a perfect team to achieve your shared aims.
There are a few key reasons to follow this approach:
Time Saving: Grant holders are fairly wise to the squeezed application attempts which cost you time to prepare and them time to read. No-one wins.
Team Morale: Every application requires effort and passion. For team members directly engaged in fundraising and bid writing, failed applications can be a bitter blow. Don’t set yourselves up for failure when the fund simply doesn’t fit your organisation/project.
Reputation: If this is a funder with multiple funding opportunities, don’t give them the wrong idea about you and your organisation by appearing to ignore guidelines.
Final thoughts: I have presented several organisations with funding opportunities over the years and every time they choose to not pursue a grant, I understand more about what makes them special. Be clear about what you’re about and make sure your funders are always aligned with that.
Junction Point can support with all you bid writing and tendering opportunities; contact us today to discuss your needs. 
Registered provider for the North East Business Support Fund and RTC North.

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