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Perfecting your funding application: 6 dos and don’ts!

July 22, 2014

Writing funding applications can be a tricky business, and sometimes even a source of worries or stress! To help with your blood pressure, here are my tips to perfect your application.

Writing your perfect funding application: Dos and Don'ts


1. Prepare early

Starting early gives you time to do your research, find the best funding programme, gather information, get quotes, get people involved and write your application. This kind of preparation makes it so much easier to make a convincing case for your project! Working back from when you need the money, you can see that you need to start pretty early, especially when you add in the time the funder will take to assess your application and pay the grant.

In my experience, it can be obvious if an application has been filled out in a rush, or without enough planning. This is always a red flag for the person assessing an application!

2. Focus on how you’ll use this grant

Most of the application should be used to explain what you will do with the grant you are asking for. Especially for small to medium applications (usually those under £10,000), that’s what we want to know about, and what we will assess. A little background on your organisation is worth including. But too many applications are filled up with history and existing activities – and barely mention how the grant will be spent!

3. Use clear language

I’ve seen some seriously confusing language used in funding applications! If the funder can’t easily tell what you will actually be doing, it’s pretty hard for them to judge whether to fund you. Think ‘explaining to a friend’ not ‘PhD thesis’! Dropping the buzzwords/ jargon and sticking to clear language will get you a long way.

4. Make it factual

A surprising number of funding applications are fact-free zones. Again, it’s difficult to assess an application if we don’t have a clear idea of:

  • where the project will happen,
  • what activities are involved,
  • when they will happen,
  • how many people will be involved and,
  • how much it will cost.

That said, don’t forget to tell us why you want to run the project, and why it’s needed!

5. Check and recheck

Between 25% and 50% of applications we receive are missing vital information! This creates extra work and delays payment of grants. Avoid this by double-checking your application before submission, and getting a friend or colleague to do the same (they can also check that your language is clear!). Read this blog to make sure you avoid the most common pitfalls!

6. Talk to the funder

If you are stuck, talk to us! It’s better to clear up issues, ask questions, or check eligibility in advance of applying, and most funders are quite happy to hear from you.


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Pamela Barnes – What is evidence for?

July 18, 2014

The Big Lottery Fund is having a dialogue about its future funding strategy in Scotland and across the UK.Pamela3  The first phase of the conversation finishes today with this blog from Pamela Barnes, Head of Research and Communications for Includem.

Pamela weighs up the use of evidence for justification against its use for illumination.  She asks us to consider supporting organisations in looking at the data they collect to improve impact for people and communities.

You can read the full article and join in the conversation here  Please give us your views today if you can.

After today we’ll be reflecting on the feedback and will come back to those who have joined the conversation on how it has developed.  This will shape our new strategic framework and our Scotland programmes for 2015 – 2021.

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Thumbs Up for Wilderness Venture

July 17, 2014

Thirteen projects across Scotland are celebrating a share in £7,406,528 from Big Lottery Fund Scotland’s Investing in Communities programme.

One of those projects  is Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme which has been awarded £840,320 to help break the cycle of re-offending amongst women who are offending, or at high risk of offending.

Venture Trust - Bernadette Pollock

Venture Trust – Bernadette Pollock

Bernadette Pollock struggled with low self esteem, bi-polar disorder, suicidal tendencies, binge drinking, substance misuse, lack of confidence and isolation. Following a number of criminal convictions Berny lost her job and then, in a cry for help, set fire to her flat. Put under a Probation Order, and with help from AA, she stayed away from alcohol and started taking medication to help her depression.

At this point Berny also started working with Shine Women’s Mentoring Service who helped keep her sober and suggested she consider taking part in Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme – a provision for women caught up in the cycle of offending. In May this year the 43 year old from West Dunbartonshire took part in the project.

“My long term goal is to return to the world of work so I can support myself and my son. My first step in achieving that was joining Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme which initially involved one-to-one meetings with my Venture Trust Outreach Worker,” said Berny.

Berny’s Outreach Worker helped her set a number of challenging goals in preparation for the wilderness journey: to improve her physical and mental health, develop her confidence, increase her ability to work with others, and her ability to face challenges and see tasks through to completion.

Venture Trust’s wilderness journey takes participants away from the influences, behaviours and stresses of their usual environment into rugged, outdoor surroundings that encourage reflection, learning, challenge, and discussion. Such a dramatic contrast, combined with the support of Venture Trust’s field team, helps the women identify what they need to change in their lives.

“There were lots of physically and mentally demanding activities that took me outside my comfort zone. I had to tackle my fear of water when we went canoeing and at first I was worried about how deep the water was and if the canoe would capsize. But, eventually I relaxed and really enjoyed it.”

Berny tackling her fear of water

Berny tackling her fear of water


All the wilderness activities are chosen with personal development in mind and canoeing, for example, calls for effective communication, team work and managing a challenge so, despite her fears, Berny learned valuable skills.

And Berny’s journey has continued since returning from the wilderness.

“Venture Trust helped me set goals for my return home, ones that were straightforward like taking the dog for a nice walk, checking out things to do with my son, and getting off painkillers. And Venture Trust’s support has continued since I came back from the wilderness programme.

“They help me keep up with my action plan and have introduced me to community services that can also help me. I now volunteer for Barnardo’s twice a week and have applied for a job with the GalGael Trust. My dream is to be in a full time job helping other people and to be a good role model to my son.”

With the skills, confidence and positive outlook Berny has gained from Venture Trust’s Next Steps programme, she is on the right path to realising that dream.

“I had a life-changing experience when I went away with the Venture Trust for four days, a fantastic organisation, and I thank you.”

Click here for more information on the other projects receiving funding today.

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Top Award for National Lottery funded CKUK

July 14, 2014

National Lottery funded CKUK (Common Knowledge) recently celebrated a win at the JISC (Joint Information Services Council) iTech Awards. They took the top award for an animated video on internet safety, which they produced in collaboration with Glasgow Kelvin College.

The animated film was part of a CKUK peer education project (CKConnect) which is funded by Big Lottery Fund Scotland.

CKUK (Common Knowledge) is a Glasgow based charity which makes knowledge and learning accessible to people with learning difficulties over the age of 16. The organisation offers peer education, drama, and safe social networking to this group of people who are often on the periphery of mainstream activities.

CKConnect helps improve the confidence, skills, social networks and internet safety of young people with learning difficulties (age 16 to 30 years). Young people are offered a year-long training opportunity to become a peer educator. It includes a college placement working on multimedia projects such as making a video, podcast or photo-story focusing on safe social networking.


CKUK Peer Educator - Mark

CKUK Peer Educator – Mark

Mark was the peer educator on the project that won the JISC award.

A quiet and thoughtful young man, with learning difficulties, he was really keen to get involved in the peer education course: “I’ve always liked to help people and thought it would be good to pass on what I’d already learned. I thought the training was brilliant and I liked going back to my old college to show the students how to make a stop-motion movie. I used to find it difficult to get my point across, but I can do it now. People listen to me. The group respect each other.”

The peer educators also help develop a workshop on internet safety which they present to students in school and colleges.

Mark is really enthusiastic: “I love the workshops that we do in colleges. I feel that the young people we work with really listen to us because we are just like them. They were difficult at first because I was nervous about forgetting stuff, but after doing the workshops a few times I’m not nervous at all. I don’t just feel more confident, I feel more comfortable too.”

CKConnect peer educators are encouraged to undertake a Youth Achievement Award. The challenge and gathering of evidence for portfolios helps individuals reflect on their progress throughout their training and celebrate their achievements. The award encourages individuality and the young people get the chance to get to know each other better.

CKUK Peer Educator - Mark

CKUK Peer Educator – Mark

A talented artist, Mark’s portfolio stood out when assessed and he used the Youth Achievement Award to develop his skills: “It’s good to look at my award portfolio as it shows how I’ve developed.  I am now using Photoshop to colour my characters which makes them look more professional, and I got the chance to use my drawing skills to do a photo-story about internet safety.

CKUK also offers a safer and more accessible alternative to mainstream social networking called CKFriends, an online community for people with learning difficulties to share their hobbies, interests and keep in touch with friends, old and new.

Mark stresses the importance of the social side of working with CKUK: “It was great to meet up with friends that I hadn’t seen since school, and it’s nice when people call or just message me to ask how I am. It’s good to know that people are looking out for me, and I’ve started to do the same with them. I meet up with the other peer educators and we go out on the town or the cinema. I’ve got lots of friends now and a social life and I feel really happy about it.”

Karen Birch on Putting co-operation at the heart of community

July 9, 2014

Karen4The Big Lottery Fund is having a dialogue about its future funding strategy in Scotland and across the UK.

In her blog Karen Birch, Chair of Glasgow Women’s Library, challenges the BIG Lottery Fund to help the disadvantaged and disenfranchised to genuinely buy in to their local community enterprises.  She asks us to find ways to enable everyone to have shared ownership of community assets and enterprises.

You can read the full article and join in the conversation here 

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