Finding Grants for Volunteer Programmes
Volunteer programmes not only make positive contributions to society. They also help by challenging people, giving them confidence, and connecting them with other like-minded individuals.
According to Gov.uk, 23% of over 16s in England took part in formal volunteering at least once a month in the year ending March 2020. When the pandemic was at its peak, this still did not stop people from lending a helping hand. The Guardian reported that ten million UK adults volunteered in their community during the Coronavirus crisis, with most saying that they would carry on even after lockdown.
These figures prove the rising popularity of volunteering. With this surge in support, comes the growing demand for more grants for such programmes.
In this blog, we will share some of our top tips for finding funds for volunteer programmes.
Top Tips for Finding Grants
A crucial part of seeing success with grants is knowing how best to approach the process in the early stages. To find funding opportunities, you luckily don’t need to be an expert - but you do need a plan, and possibly some advice along the way.
Here’s our top tips on how to find grants for volunteer programmes:
Understand Your Needs
Volunteer programmes can be varied. Therefore, it is worth noting the different types that are available, so you can easily break down your project scope and know exactly what it is you’re looking and asking for.
By doing this, you can strategise and solidify your budget, operations, activities and - when the time comes - your application.
Usually, volunteer programmes can be divided into the following categories:
Short-term programmes e.g. one to three months
Long-term programmes e.g. six months or more
Conservation programmes e.g. primarily concerned with conservation and environmental work
Relief programmes e.g. responding to emergency situations, such as natural disasters and pandemics such as COVID-19
With each of these types in mind, it's important to then narrow down which one aligns best with the programme idea you have in development.
Next, you should define what you want the funds to cover. Usually, grants will have specific requirements set out. This will relate to what the money can be spent on once secured. For example:
Operating support (unrestricted funding) e.g. day-to-day operations
Capital support e.g. building construction, land acquisition, renovations, remodelling, or the rehabilitating of property
Programme development (restricted funding) e.g. for a particular purpose or project
For volunteer programmes specifically, you are best applying for programme development funding opportunities, as this is more achievable and likely to be relevant to your project’s aims.
Do Your Research
Now that you know what you need in terms of funding, it’s time to search for grants that will best fulfil these needs. With your criteria set, you’ll have a much easier time determining which opportunities should be added - or left off - your list.
Just be aware: this part of the process can take a while, so make sure you plan for it. To help, you can even set up a calendar on a biannual or quarterly basis, so you don’t miss any new grants throughout the year.
If you’re new to grant searching - for volunteer programmes specifically - we suggest that you start looking for grants that are small and local. While it may be tempting to go all in and target your country’s largest grants - it might be smarter to take this route if you are inexperienced or don’t have a large number of donors. This is because you can then strengthen your search skills - plus the lower value applications don’t tend to be as strenuous as higher value ones.
Research can be done in a variety of ways, with the most common being online. We always advise that you stick to official government websites, or choose a reliable service such as FundReady for information and support.
Connect With Donors
While scrolling online might be the most popular method, another way of finding grants can be by connecting with donors.
Donors are individuals or organisations who give something (particularly money) to a charity, group, or country that needs it. Some of your research time could be well-spent by becoming familiar with which ones have a generous past or a general interest in the volunteer programme you plan to initiate.
It could be that you soon discover you’re already connected to one of these organisations through mutual connections. If not, now is the perfect time to begin a relationship by reaching out and making them aware of the good work you already do and have planned for the future.
Corporate partnerships are also a clever way of receiving volunteers and funds, while the participating company reaps the many benefits of being involved with a good cause.
Find Grants with FundReady
Looking for grants to cover a specific type of project or programme can be a minefield. It has also become increasingly difficult for organisations to identify funds which directly suit their current needs and future plans.
Knowing where to find funding opportunities and sifting through criteria requires effort, time and expertise. To combat this, FundReady is Ireland’s leading funding information and support service for not-for-profit organisations.
Powered by S3 Solutions, FundReady offers an easy-to-use digital platform and a team of specialist advisors, providing you with brand-new opportunities, trusted advice and practical support for each step of the application process. The service is tailored and aligned to the needs and profile of each organisation.
It is a subscription-based service, complete with support packages to meet the needs of organisations of all sizes and types in the third sector. Over the years, we have supported clients across Ireland to secure over £120 million of investment for new capital projects, services, equipment and organisational developments.
If you want to get started or have any questions, contact us today.