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Types of funding organisations

Carrying on from the Fundraising page, here will look more closely at the organisations which you might apply to for funding. It is very important to consider the reasons why an organisation might agree to funding and what they may expect in return.

Public Sector

This is usually the first and most obvious target for financial support, particularly where a project will provide tangible benefits to local communities. Indeed it is likely that the public sector, in the shape of a local authority, will have some involvement or stake in the project, and may even be the landowner. For this reason, it would in most cases be wrong to think of the local authority merely as a source of project funding – given their wider social and political role, project success is more likely to be dependent upon the local authority being engaged and supportive of the project than on their direct financial contribution.

This is particularly the case when seeking funding from other public sector sources. In most instances, these other sources will, as a minimum, require evidence that the proposal has local authority support and more likely will need to see that the project proposal clearly fits within the local authority’s wider strategies. The role of the local authority is also likely to be important in the context of long term project management and funding – all the more reason for seeking to engage their support at the outset.

The public sector’s ‘motivation’ for supporting a project might be because the support is part of its statutory duties (as defined by regional, national or European law) and/or because support would help to fulfil its agreed policy and/or because it would be politically attractive. As with all fundraising, in arguing the case for financial support from the public sector, it is important to understand the ‘benefits’ your project will provide to the funder in terms of addressing their statutory/policy/political needs.

Private Sector

In broad terms, there are three reasons why a private sector company may become involved in a community project:

  • Because they have a direct interest in the area of land concerned, perhaps as landowner (or former landowner) or as a neighbour.
  • Because they see involvement as furthering their corporate aims. For example, having a high-profile involvement in a regeneration project may be an important part of a company’s marketing strategy, or helping to regenerate sites to a high standard may be important in helping the company argue the case for further planning consents.
  • Being socially responsible may be an important part of the company’s core values.

Note that the motivations of private sector giving can be complicated by taxation systems, usually to the benefit of the project, with the value of donations offsetting corporation tax liabilities.

It is important to understand the motivation of any business that is being approached for support. If approaching local businesses it is likely that an understanding of what is most likely to secure their engagement will probably come from local knowledge or contacts. For larger corporations, some research will be necessary, via directories of corporate giving, annual reports or websites. Any sizeable business will be regularly approached for donations or sponsorship and will usually have developed a strategy to handle this in a manageable way. Sometimes these strategies are published, but even if this is not the case, research will reveal a company’s historical approach to giving and hence a good indication of whether a particular project proposal is even likely to be considered.

NGOs and charitable trusts

There are many thousands of NGOs (non-governmental organisations) and charitable trusts, some established by wealthy individuals or businesses, some very old (perhaps distributing the income generated from an endowment made centuries ago), some very specific and conservative in what they support, others much broader in their aims. An important prelude to making any approach is therefore to narrow down the field and identify those bodies that may have an interest in your project, or a part of it.

Search criteria need to include the geographical area that the funding body will consider (sometimes this is based on country or region, sometimes on types of area, e.g. former coalfields), the types of activity or project that will be supported, the levels of funding and the time-scale for making an application.

A search for organisations that fund ‘community-led regeneration of derelict land’ or ‘ecological regeneration’ is unlikely to yield helpful results. It will probably be more productive to consider more specific project outputs such as ‘youth education’, ‘wildlife conservation’, ‘community development’, ‘community art’ or ‘local heritage conservation’. These are more often the types of things such bodies support, so it may be necessary to tailor an application to some fairly specific components of your project, or represent a particular project perspective, in order to meet the funding criteria.

Individuals or groups of individuals

This category of fundraising covers a wide range of activities, usually participatory, and usually having a high local profile. It could include street collections, sponsored events, bring-and-buy sales, small lotteries, etc. In regard to ecological regeneration projects, this approach can be very challenging because fundraising is likely to sit alongside fundraising activity for many other local initiatives, e.g. the local school, sports club, church, hospice or animal sanctuary. For it to succeed it must therefore be for a project that genuinely enjoys broad support.

The funds generated by such events may be important but are usually relatively modest. If it is a main source of funding, there therefore needs to be a clearly definable project ‘vision’ that is capable of retaining broad local support, perhaps for years, as funding gradually accumulates. More realistically, these sources of funding will need to be complemented by other sources. Arguably the true achievement of a major local fundraising initiative is not the money raised but the fact that a large number of people will need to have been actively engaged, one of the key success factors of a sustainable regeneration project.

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