Sustainable Funding for Community Projects


Funders don’t fund for the fun of it. They have an agenda that’s often tied to national and even international strategies. Get to know how your project relates to those wider strategies and you’ll find success in your funding applications.

But where to start? Corinna Hartwig (aka The Funding Dr) is here to help with advice on how to identify the relationship between your project and wider strategies plus top tips on how to speak the funders language.

Watch the workshop recording to learn your outputs from your outcomes and what you and the funder have in common (spoiler: more than you might think).

Watch the Workshop Here
Get the Slides Here

Corinna’s top tips and advice on how to attract funding

The current funding environment:

  1. Covid-19 has influenced funders’ focus, resources and even staffing. The crisis has encouraged more funders to support local community action and many funders have worked flexibly, suspending normal programmes to concentrate on crisis-response.
  2. Competition is high. There’s the equivalent to 1 registered voluntary organisation to every 399 people in the UK (according to the NCVO Almanac) and all of those organisations require funds. But, as we’ve seen through the Covid-19 crisis, community projects are creative and resourceful and with the right approach you’ll be able to access the funding you need.
  3. The digital shift of the past six months means fundraising has gone online and many of the new funds available are targeting remote learning, working and means of digital distribution.

For more information on the current funding environment go to:

What do you and the funder have in common? 

1. You want to do good by alleviating issues facing your local area. Take time to consider where your project is based, who you are targeting and which issue area you work in. Once you’ve got that clear in your mind you can look for funders that want to alleviate the issues that you are working to reduce in the relevant geographic area.

2. You want to look good to those that you’re accountable to. You’re accountable to the funder while the funder is often accountable to a large-scale grant distributor. Both of you need to justify why your organisation should get the money – not the next organisation. Want to look better than anyone else? You’ll need to prove that you’re doing the maximum good to the maximum number of people by proving that you’re addressing a need and will have a big impact. (Note: to prove the need start by doing some simple research using The Office for National Statistics (ONS) and by searching for “reports on Area of Need uk 2020”)

3. You want to feel good. There’s no surer way of doing that than hearing a good story. So remember to tell people why you do what you do and the impact it has on peoples’ lives.

The Ripple Effect:

Ripple effect - funding guide

As Corinna’s slide shows, there are international, national, regional and local strategies all aiming to alleviate problems facing local communities. And your project sits at the centre, making the real difference on the ground. By getting to know the international treaties, national targets and regional objectives relating to your cause … you’re setting yourself up to show exactly how your project is part of the wider strategic movement for positive change. And don’t forget to reach out to your local and immediate communities to partner with other projects with similar beneficiaries or aims.

To find out about strategies relating to your work you’ll need to do some research into:

    • Parish Council plans
    • County Council strategies and local Care Commissioning Groups
    • National governmental plans and proposals
    • International treaties and UN objectives e.g. the Sustainable Development Goals

The Funders’ Language

  • Funders don’t fund activities. Activities are your daily tasks to achieve an outcome
  • Funders fund projects that address local problems with measurable outcomes. Those outcomes will feed into wider strategic aims.
  • Funders will have strategic aims to address issue areas such as food poverty, climate crisis, the digital divide etc.

To see this illustrated, check out the funding triangle below (from NCVO CES – check out their handy guide here). Be sure to watch the workshop recording to see Corinna explain the difference between aims, outcomes and activities in full. And then go make your own outcome triangle to show the funder that the activities that you do will achieve outcomes that will feed into wider aims for positive change.

And if you want a hand with making your outcomes measurable:

The current funding environment is effected by the Covid-19 crisis and will continue to be for some time. Your work will be too. For some practical support and guidance on how to continue your activities go here.

Semble brings businesses and community projects together to make change happen from the grassroots up. We run funding campaigns in partnership with organisations that want to make a positive impact in communities across the UK.

Corinna Hartwig runs Corinna Hartwig Consulting – supporting business start-ups. And, known as the “Funding Doctor” she helps community groups find funding faster (websites currently under construction). Corinna has personal, practical experience with developing funding strategies, researching funding opportunities, implementing and managing community projects, both as a volunteer and as a consultant working with a range of community organisations at grass roots level. Get in touch to see how she can support your project one-to-one.

Coming up in the Semble workshop series we have two further workshops with Corinna Hartwig, a deep dive into income streams and a session on budget and strategy – register your interest now. Plus we’re running a workshop on storytelling to build support – find out more here.

Check out our other webinar resources about sustainable funding for community groups and supporting communities digitally using Zoom. Search our list of funding opportunities for community groups. To be the first to know about these as well as funding opportunities, sign up to the Semble network.

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About the Author:

Lorna’s all about purpose led comms. She champions the power of connection. When she’s not talking, writing and recording at her desk she’s making pottery or has her nose in a book.