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Involving your community: part 2 – schools, uniformed groups and sensitive work

September 17, 2018

Two older girls coaching lots of children in a football pitchAs I discussed in a recent blog piece, involving your community in planning and delivering your work is important if you are looking to get a grant from us, especially through National Lottery Awards for All.

This time we’ll look at some cases where involving the wider community could be more difficult, or a bit outside of your organisation’s normal role. So let’s start with the commonest question:

What if we don’t or can’t work with the wider community?

When you are doing more sensitive work we realise that it can be difficult to work with your community in the widest sense. This could be the case for projects doing things like counselling around sensitive issues, or work with vulnerable groups.

However, for most other groups we are keen to see how you will involve and be open to input from the wider community, not just the people currently involved in your activities (although their views are important too!). Because of this, projects that only benefit your organisation’s existing users or members are typically less likely to be funded.

This can be an issue for some types of organisation in particular.

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Raising your game and doing the unimaginable

September 12, 2018

The green and yellow shopfront of the Locavore Community Interest Company, with a person walking through the front doorRunning a social enterprise and want to take it to the next level? In this guest blog, Firstport’s Maria Ashley talks about their accelerator programme, LaunchMe, and how budding social entrepreneurs can apply to get seed funding and intensive support to achieve impact at scale…

‘I’m doing things that I wouldn’t even have imagined’. This quote from one of the LaunchMe participants pretty much sums up what the programme is all about – raising ambitions, giving confidence and encouraging social entrepreneurs to think big and do more, faster.

LaunchMe is the only accelerator of its kind in Scotland and is delivered by Firstport. We support budding social entrepreneurs to get their ideas off the ground by providing one-to-one business support, seed funding, connections and resources.  Firstport has been working with social enterprise start-ups for over ten years and while we know that most social entrepreneurs are locally focused and come with relatively modest ambitions (at least to start with), some have the potential and desire to do much more.

Originally commissioned in 2014 as a three-year programme through National Lottery funding to grow the ambition and potential of social enterprises, LaunchMe supports start-up social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and directly connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. Participants receive seed funding, intensive one-to-one and group business advice to get investment ready, as well as access to grant funding as co-investment to match any private investment they secure during the programme.

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Young Start is back! £18m available for youth-led projects

August 30, 2018

Four young women playing steel drums and having funGreat news! From today groups across Scotland can apply for Young Start funding to help young people realise their potential. Following a brief pause to refresh the programme, Young Start is back with a life-changing £18 million pounds of dormant banks account funding available for projects that involve young people in their design, running and evaluation.

The Young Start fund previously awarded £29.5 million to 693 projects that have had an incredible impact on the lives of young people, helping them to become more confident, healthy, enterprising and connected to their peers and communities.

One of those young people is Ben, 19, from Motherwell who attends Youth Focus, a Young Start funded project from African Lanarkshire for Mental Health that supports young people to build their confidence through a range of activities.

Ben, who is currently studying building environment at Motherwell college, hopes to fulfil his dream of becoming an architect. When speaking with Ben, it is clear that he is a bright and confident young man. However, he explains that this is in sharp contrast to the extremely shy boy that he was just a few years ago.

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Why you should involve your community in your funding application

August 29, 2018

People In The Lead

We get more requests for funding than we have money to give out – so we’re always left with difficult decisions to make. Whether you’re looking for £500 or £500,000, one of the most important factors we use to make these decisions is the level of community involvement in the planning and delivery of your work.

We believe that tapping into local people’s strengths, talents and energy will make your project stronger and more likely to succeed. It’s also great evidence that the work you want to do is truly important to the people in your community.

So today we’ll be looking at why you should involve your community in your application. In particular I’ll focus on our most popular fund – National Lottery Awards for All – where community involvement is vital to the success of your application.

Here are our answers to your top questions on involving your community in your application.

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Developing evaluation culture in your organisation – a challenge worth taking on!

August 23, 2018

Colleagues around a table with documents and folders in front of them evaluating their workIn this guest blog, Louise Bowen from Evaluation Support Scotland gives tips on how to get people on board with evaluation…

Here at Evaluation Support Scotland we often ask participants in our training or tailored support sessions: “who in your organisation is involved in evaluation?’’

One of the key things we’ve learned over the last 12 years is that evaluation is more likely to produce really useful data for service development when people from across the organisation are involved, evaluation processes are built into their everyday work and evaluation is valued as a tool for learning and development – in other words, when the organisation has a culture of evaluation.

But how do you go about developing that culture? What if you’re the only person with responsibility for evaluation in your organisation?  Getting others on board with evaluation won’t happen overnight, but a starting point is to find out what makes evaluation valuable to different people – why does it, or why could it, matter to them?  Your colleagues, trustees and volunteers will all have different learning to take from evaluation findings, so the key is to help them understand why they can benefit from it.

The next stage is to identify ways that evaluation can be integrated into existing working practices and fit with the skills that people already have. This is all about taking it step-by-step to make evaluation a normal part of activities and conversations, rather than a hoop to jump through! We’ve developed the Making it Stick guide and diagnostic tool to help you work through the stages of embedding evaluation and check your organisation’s progress with developing an evaluation culture.

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