The Community Foundation has a significant fund available to support strategic projects and is actively seeking applicants. But what do we mean by a strategic project?
We are looking for projects which will support your sustainability and/or enable you to reach more beneficiaries; which will make a distinctive difference to the way you operate and what you are able to achieve. The aim is to strengthen charities and enable you to increase your potential impact.
So, what does that look like?
- Capital Expenditure – including equipment, new construction, renovation, and expansion which are critical to sustainability and achieving missions.
- Strategic IT Projects – including investments in hardware/software which will enable expansion or efficiency in service delivery.
- Strategic Organisational Developments – including mergers and planning initiatives which use expert consultants to determine new, transformational paths.
Capital Expenditure – The Normandy Community Therapy Garden received a grant to build a free-standing garden room within their grounds to provide a private, quiet and discreet retreat for counselling sessions and one-to-one work with clients. The project allowed NCTG to improve the quality of the service they provide, increase the number of people they can help without compromising the atmosphere of peace and tranquillity and offers the opportunity to earn income by letting the space to other voluntary groups out of hours.
Strategic Organisational Developments – Our fund will pay for specialist consultancy to help you make strategic organisational developments, for example a merger or development of a social enterprise. East Surrey Mediation Service applied for funding for a Project Manager to help them through a project to bring together the five community mediation services across Surrey. The organisation is volunteer powered, and the Trustees had done a lot of work in preparation for the project but felt that to make a success of such a complicated merger they needed expert project management to professionalise the service and provide further opportunities for earned income. ESMS were able to present a forecast of the increased reach they would have as a merged organisation and the opportunities for earned income they could explore making a compelling case for support.
Strategic IT Projects – Although we recognise that updating PCs and servers etc. is essential to your work our donors feel these costs will be built into your long-term budgets and are an ongoing cost. The Fund will not pay for replacement computer equipment or simple updates to your IT, however new IT solutions which enable you to work in a new way, save time, reduce costs and reach more people are good candidates for funding.
Recently, East Surrey Domestic Abuse Service applied for funding to install new case management database and associated business software, which would enable the charity to more efficiently manage confidential client information and save staff time. ESDAS carried out a full GDPR Compliance Audit and a full IT Infrastructure Audit which highlighted the key actions they needed to take. They were able to identify opportunities to increase service delivery by employing additional staff using savings made through increased efficiency. The capacity of the new system to collect and analyse beneficiary data will also improve their case management and reporting.
What are the pitfalls?
Strategic projects can require a large investment. Our donors want to support something were they can see that their funding will make a big difference to your work. Projects which have not been successful are those which are very large and the impact of the investment from our donor is not easy to separate from the larger project. But it is not impossible – the project to make the upper floors of the Grange Centre for People with Disabilities accessible to their participants and use the space to offer a wider range of activities, had a budget over £500k. However, funding for a disabled lift was a critical key element in the large project and the impact could clearly be seen. The thing the examples all have in common is that they were well thought out and part of a larger plan for the organisation. Trustees had been involved and committed to the projects.
If you have a project you think might be suitable, please do give me a call. It can be hard to describe a complex project on a form so let’s talk it through. I look forward to hearing from you!
Director of Grants & Impact