Funding - What makes a good bid?
This is a question that we are often asked by sports clubs and, more frequently, by schools. The answer is not always straightforward as major sources of funding appear to be harder to get and the pot seems to be shrinking!
A bizarre situation when we think that, in 2012, London will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We have also had the recent announcement about Pre-Games training camp venues across the country with many facilities gearing themselves up to potentially host teams from countries across the world!
There are, however. still many sources of funding out there and, to be successful in accessing some of that money, you have to think smart and be focused on your project.
What's Out There?
There are, in fact, a number of different sources available depending upon the scope of your project and its location. The list is large:
Trusts and Charities
Awards For All
Coalfield Regeneration Trusts
Foundation for Sport and the Arts
Rugby Football Foundation
TV fund raisers i.e. Sport Relief
National Sports Foundation
Governing bodies of sport
At a very local level, there are many more, but these can be very specific, you will need to use something like the 'Directory of Grant Making Trusts' or 'Funderfinder' to track these down.
Planning Your Project
When planning your project, there are three key areas that you need to address:
• Strategic Need
• Local Need
• Sports Development
Let's take a quick look at these in turn.
When you sit down and plan your project, you need to consider where it will fit into the 'big picture'. In other words, will this be a key facility for your local area, for the county, for the region or is it just a very local scheme which will benefit a small group of people?
This is an important issue to consider as it will, in some way, determine where you will be seeking funding from. Funding bodies will expect you to have consulted with a range of organisations such as:
• Your sport's governing body
• Your local County Sports Partnership
• Your local authority
• Your Community Sports Network
You need to identify the local competition. Your project is important to you, but if there are already other similar facilities in the area, then will the market be able to sustain another one?
At a local level, it is important to identify who exactly uses your facilities and the converse, who doesn't use them? If, locally, people aren't using your facilities, then it's important to find out why. This can be done through a local survey. Finding out why will help to answer the question as to whether people are actually interested in your project. Are you able to meet unmet demand? This will be critical when you are developing your business plan because if the figures don't stack up, potential funders will not be keen to invest in your project.
Similarly, to strategic need, you need to identify any local competition. Is there a similar facility being planned locally that you weren't aware of or is there already something in the next village or town with underused capacity?
Sports development covers a range of issues and is often ignored by people when planning a new facility. It is critical to identify your potential new customers. Most funding bodies will want to see an increase in participation as a result of their investment, and something that is a benefit to the local community. Quite simply, funders want some payback for their investment.
It's no use seeking to improve your existing facilities if they will continue to only benefit a small group of people. County Sports Partnerships, local authorities and Sport England, to name a few, want to see an increase in participation and will only support projects which can demonstrate that.
Two new tools available to you and which can help you make the case are Active People and Market Segmentation.
The Active People Survey was the largest survey of sport and active recreation to be taken in England. It creates a baseline against which active participation can be measured anywhere in the country. It is, therefore, a valuable tool for anyone planning a new facility to use in identifying their local participation rates. Full details can be found on the Sport England website.
Market Segmentation is another tool which has evolved from the Active People Survey. It helps to understand what motivates people to play or not play sport. It's based around nineteen common groups of people which can be explored at differing geographic levels. It is possible to find out what people's sporting habits are in a particular street, community, local authority or region. Again, detailed information on how to use this tool can be found on County Sports Partnership or the Sport England websites.
Linked to all of the above, you need to identify what is limiting your development, e.g. is it poor changing facilities, bad drainage, lack of floodlit facilities, lack of indoor space or just the location which means you can't expand and therefore need to find another site.
What all of this will demonstrate to a potential funder is that you are planning ahead and thinking about how your club will grow and benefit the local community!
Sports Development Planning is about having a clear vision for the future and it can be summarised in six key words:
• Aims - What are you aiming to achieve?
• How - Are you going to do this?
• Who - Is going to do the work?
• When - What are the timescales involved?
• What - Is the project?
• Review - How will you know what has been achieved? You need to have a way of reviewing progress throughout the project
In addition to all of the above, there are a host of other things you will need to consider about your project. These include:
• Marketing of the facility/project
• Access issues
• Charging policies
• Management of the facility
• Operational issues
• Income and expenditure plans
All of these make up your project and if they can be presented in a clear and logical way, then your chance of securing funding increases.
Just remember, it was Albert Einstein who said "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough".
It is worth remembering also that 'there is no such thing as a free lunch'. Any organisation prepared to fund projects will have its own agenda, whether that is increasing participation or a specific interest in your sport. The key message here is to get to know your funders - be clear about what their criteria are, are they seeking payback in any form, are they focusing on any specific target groups e.g. young people, people with a disability etc?
Above all else, make sure that you read their documentation carefully before you begin to complete it. If you are not sure about anything, then contact them to seek clarification. Many funders are happy to offer advice and would prefer people to come to them first to see whether their project is eligible before an applicant has spent a lot of time developing a project that isn't fundable.
There are three top tips that summarise the whole process:
• Know your project
• Know your funder
• Keep it simple!
For more information contact Liz or Mike at Syzygy Leisure on 01604 670222 or firstname.lastname@example.org