Funding and grants for community groups

If you’re thinking about starting up a new group or organisation in your community or you already run one, how you fund your group’s activities will be something you will be thinking about. This guide will help you to explore the various ways in which you can raise money.

Before you decide how you are going to raise money the key question to answer is why do you need to raise money? If you have a clear target of what you need money for your drive to fund raise will be more successful, it will allow you to break down your costs to identify your budget and therefore your fundraising target. With your target identified you can start to think about ways in which you can raise that level of funding. Use the links below to help you think about which fundraising efforts might best suit your needs.

A good way to raise cash and raise the profile of your group is to run fun activities. These might be specific to your group members or you may extend the invitation to the wider community and beyond. These can be small activities or much larger events which engage people and offer them the opportunity to donate money to your group. 

Suggestions include:

  • Fun days – organising a local fun day can be a good way to raise money and also make your cause better known. They can bring together communities by offering activities that they can take part in together.  There are a number of things you will need to consider, for example you may need to apply for temporary licences, for more information view our Community Event Toolkit page.
  • Raffles – raffles held at events do not require a licence, however they must only be promoted to raise funds for a good cause and not for commercial or individual gain.  All tickets must be sold at the venue during the course of the event with the draw being held at the event or after it has finished. No more than £100 can be deducted from the income of ticket sales for expenses and no more than £500 for prizes. More information can be found at the Gambling Commission website.  If you plan to run a raffle outside of an event you will need to get a small society lottery licence, this costs £40 for the first year and £20 a year thereafter. The Local Authority issue these licences. You can apply for the licence here
  • Casino, poker, bingo or racing nights – can be run without a licence providing they are non-commercial, not for private gain and proceeds are donated to a good cause. Games must be equal chance, meaning that the chances are equally favourable to all participants (in the case of race nights this means there must be no information on odds or form). Money is raised by charging an entrance fee, participation fee, or through other payments related to the gaming. The maximum amount that a player may be charged is £8 per day (this includes entrance or participation fees, stakes and any other payments in relation to the gaming). The total amount paid out in prizes across all players must be below £600. The costs incurred by providing the prizes can be deducted from the proceeds. More information can be found at the Gambling Commission website. If you think you are planning an event which requires a licence please contact the Public Protection team for further advice.
  • Selling things the group has made – you may have lots of assets already within your group that you can utilise, for example if you are a craft group members might make things that could be sold at local craft fairs and events.
  • Coffee mornings – these offer a great opportunity to get together and enjoy a morning of chatting, drinks and cake.
  • Sponsored events – perhaps members of your group would be interested in taking on a challenge in order to raise money, perhaps a sponsored walk, dance, run, or even a sponsored silence.

Don’t forget to make your fundraising efforts go further with Gift Aid. Charities and community amateur sports clubs can claim Gift Aid on many of the donations they receive, this provides an extra 25p for every £1 donated. View guidance on claiming gift aid.

Local businesses may be interested in supporting local good causes in a variety of ways, for example, they may want to sponsor the group (common amongst sporting teams who in return wear the business logo on their kit), they may be able to supply prizes for raffles or offer a financial contribution. Things to consider:

  • Relationships can play an important role, if you know somebody who works for a local business build on this, businesses are most likely to give to groups that they have a personal connection to. If you don’t know anybody who works for the business approach them yourself to develop that relationship, let them know what you are doing locally. Face to face introductions are likely to be more successful than letters although you might want to follow up your discussion with a letter printed on the groups headed paper so that the business knows that it is a genuine request from a genuine group.
  • Know what businesses are based in your area and think about which of these are a good match for what you do or are intending to do. Linking with businesses which have a close match to your own outcomes could increase your chance of being successful, if they are not able to donate a sum of money they may be able to donate items instead. For example if you are having a fundraising cake sale a local bakery may be able to donate cakes or if you want to improve your building or the local environment a local hardware store or garden centre may be able to donate equipment to be used or share expertise. 
  • Consider what you could offer in return for the support from a business, how would their donation benefit them? Businesses giving to good causes works two ways as it promotes what the business sells at the same time as doing something good for their local community. Offering publicity in return for the donation will be a big incentive for many businesses as this could lead to more custom for them. Think about what you could offer, for example referring to the support the business has offered on your social media accounts or if you are creating printed media include their logo and state that the business has supported the project. 

If you have successfully received a donation from a local business keep in touch with them, as the key contact you may have regular conversations with the business, however let them know how their donation has made a difference in a formal written letter. This will ensure the gratitude of the whole project is shared and will give the business something to share with their staff if they have been involved in fundraising activities. Relationships that are maintained are more likely to result in an ongoing supportive relationship.

Most organisations apply for grants as a way to help run their projects. Grant sizes vary from the very small (around £200) up to big grants of well over £100,000. Grant giving bodies receive many more applications than they are able to fund so it is important that your grant is well thought out and stands out from the crowd. We have prepared a fact sheet to help you consider the things you will need to take account of when applying for grant funding.

To help you get stared we have listed some grants that may be of interest, you can access these by clicking on the grants tab at the top of this page. This is not an exhaustive list, in addition to the information you will find here we also provide regular updates on available grants, you can sign up to receive these updates using our News For You service.

Crowdfunding is a form of raising money that has increased in popularity and success in recent years, it allows people (the crowd) to raise money for causes that they believe in. Crowdfunding takes place on internet platforms where you register your idea, set your target and people donate. Unlike other forms of fundraising you only receive the money raised if your target is met, if you don’t reach your target donations remain with the donor.

There are several forms of Crowdfunding, the main ones you might wish to consider are:

  • Donation based crowdfunding - this is where the individual donates money to the cause of their choice without expecting anything in return other than the feel good factor of having contributed towards something that they feel is worthwhile.  
  • Reward based crowdfunding - this allows you to offer the donor something in exchange of their donation, many donors are motivated by doing good, others need the extra push of knowing they will get something in return.

These rewards are non-monetary and you can have different awards for different levels of money donated, e.g. donate £10 and receive a keyring or donate £20 and receive a print made by the group. Rewards could also be something the project could offer once it is set up, for example if you are setting up a coffee shop you could offer an invite to the opening night or the donator could be named on the café wall. 

Some tips

  • Before launching your crowdfunding campaign you will need to identify what you are raising money for and establish a target amount.
  • When considering what project you will use crowdfunding for ensure that your project is interesting and will appeal to a wide range of people and gather strong support from 'the crowd'.
  • Once you have a clear idea of what your campaign will look like sign up to a crowdfunding website, list your campaign, and set a deadline (typical timescales are 30-90 days).
  • Make your campaign stand out by using a strong eye-catching image, this is the first thing people will see when visiting your page, make sure it represents what the project will be working towards.
  • Describe your campaign in plain English, be clear about what it is your campaign sets out to achieve. Your story should inspire people to donate. Where possible make the story personal and don’t bog it down with figures, describe the impact the project will have on recipients.
  • As with all fundraising campaigns, crowdfunding requires you to market your campaign in order to make it a success. Work on increasing your social media followers before you launch your campaign and during the course of it, the more people you are connected to the more likely that your campaign will be a success. Do not expect that once the campaign is launched you sit back and watch the donations increase, you will need to galvanise support.
  • Anyone can donate to your campaign including organisations and businesses, think about how you can market your campaign to reach a wide audience.
  • When you receive a donation make sure you send a thank you to the donor, try to make this a personal one, feeling appreciated may lead to greater donations next time round. 

Make sure you use a platform that serves your purposes (please note that some platforms may charge you a percentage of what you raise, please check the terms and conditions on the platform's website), examples of platforms are:

Twincl, is an exciting weekly lottery that raises money for good causes in the Borough of Telford and Wrekin on the principle of raising money within the community for the community.   

It’s free for local good causes to join and they will get free bespoke marketing materials to help them sell tickets. Twincl offers eligible good causes the opportunity to raise 50p from each ticket they sell and to receive a proportion of the Community Fund. The Council itself does not take a penny from the initiative. Visit the Twincl website to find out more.

Another way to gain funding is to secure a contract for a specific project, a contract is a legal agreement between the parties involved. The Local Authority procure goods and services and will advertise the kinds of services they wish to procure. You can find out what services the Council is intending to procure by viewing the procurement intentions document

For further information on how the Council advertises contract opportunities please visit our tender opportunities page. Depending on the cost of the proposed contract the Council may advertise an invitation to quote or a tender. It’s also worth following @businessTelford and #tendercogs on Twitter as we also advertise our requirements through this social media portal.

Advice on completing tender documentation may be available from the Council’s Procurement team, this information will be shared with the tender documents. 

For more information please visit the Council's contracts, tenders and procurement page where you will also find a news and events section.

Social investment is a way of investors funding charities and other not-for-profit organisations and provides the capital required to support social sector organisations to deliver their services, grow or become more sustainable. It can take the form of various types of repayable finance and should achieve two things:

  1. a social impact – positive outcomes for people, communities or the environment, and
  2. a financial return - the organisation receiving the investment will be able to generate sufficient income from its activities, goods or services to cover its costs and repay the funding over time.

Social investment can take the form of:

  • a loan, usually a secured loan
  • equity (only if the organisation is constituted with a share-holding structure)
  • quasi-equity where the lender takes their returns as a proportion of the organisation’s future revenue
  • overdraft facilities, or
  • social impact bonds where investors put forward the capital required to run a project, and are repaid by the commissioner (usually government) based on the results – or social impact – of the delivery organisation (often a charity).

Organisations that offer social investment include:

  • Institute of Fundraising - the professional membership body for UK fundraising offering a wealth of support including training and networking opportunities. 
  • Good Finance - a website to help charities and social enterprises understand social investment.
  • #iwill – resources page offers a variety of documents to support you to make the case and develop your programme of youth social action.
  • Telford & Wrekin facts and figures – provides a variety of data including census data, population characteristics, ward profiles, health profiles, economic profile and the indices of deprivation.
  • Office for National Statistics - The UK's largest independent producer of official statistics and the recognised national statistical institute of the UK.
  • Funding  Central - provides access to thousands of grants, contracts and loan finance opportunities from local, national and international funding sources in addition to practical guides and online tools to support your funding strategy.
  • Grant Finder - a user-friendly, accurate and professional funding tool providing information on over 8,000 funding schemes including grants, loans and awards from local, regional and national UK government, European funding, charitable trusts and corporate sponsors.  Telford & Wrekin Council uses Grant Finder to access it’s grant information.

Last updated: 3.34pm on Wednesday 18 September 2019

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