Rachel Gordon on funding ambitious education projects

Funding specialist Rachel Gordon offers some expert advice on how you can fund your school’s latest project and the strategies to be considered depending on the size of your project. From playground to sports hall – there’s funding out there to make your dream a reality

Rachel-150x150Have a vision

Bidding for funding can be a highly competitive process so you need to make sure that you communicate your project in the most powerful and impassioned way. Be clear about what exactly you want to achieve – what will success look like? A funder is more likely to support you if your vision is clear, has purpose and is going to deliver impact.

Add value

Nowadays funders are increasingly focused on value for money. One way in which they measure this is by assessing the potential impact of a project – so, when you are approaching a funder, be sure to have defined objectives and outcomes. Demonstrate how you will measure success and what impact your project will have on people’s lives. This matters for small projects as well as big ones.

Work out your budget

Before you start looking for grants or sponsorship you will need to know how much funding is required to make your project a success. You can research prices online, make enquiries and ask for quotations. This will help to focus your efforts and identify appropriate and relevant funders according to grant size.

For some projects, big and small, it is possible to find a single grant that will cover all your costs

Think about the funding mix

This relates to working out how much funding you need to, or can, secure from grants and how much needs to be generated from other sources, like sponsorship, in-kind support or fundraising events. For some projects, big and small, it is possible to find a single grant that will cover all your costs. For others it might be necessary to approach different funders and ask each of them to make a contribution towards the total cost. Be clear about how you plan to raise the total funding required; funders will usually ask for this information. A funding mix can work in your favour as some funders like to see evidence of schools raising their own funds through their own fundraising efforts and from their own networks. It is acknowledged that this is not always possible though.

Before putting pen to paper take some time to research your funder

Suss out your funder

Before putting pen to paper take some time to research your funder. What are their current priorities? What organisations and projects have they funded in the past? How much is an average grant? What does the application process involve? How long does it take? What information is required? You can usually find a wealth of information online – funders’ websites, annual reports, guidance notes, application forms and case studies. These are fantastic resources to help you work out who is the right funder for you and how to best position your project to match their objectives.

About the author
Dr Rachel Gordon heads up the School Funding Service. She is a fundraising consultant who previously put together the most comprehensive database of funding available to UK schools. She has advised hundreds of schools on grant fundraising and written winning bids to secure funds for a wide range of projects including outdoor learning, ICT, sports equipment and coaching, playgrounds and school trips.
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