Some years ago I attended a seminar on the National Lottery.
The helpful team from different Lottery funds genuinely wanted to know how their audience felt about the application processes. They clearly weren’t expecting the minor tsunami which greeted their enquiry !
Speaker after speaker complained about the length and complexity of the application processes; the difficulty of getting advice from Lottery staff; and the lack of feedback about unsuccessful applications.
Since then the Lottery has much improved. I am currently involved in a major application to the Big Lottery. The process is much easier and the Lottery team involved couldn’t be more helpful. The system could do with some more improvement – but it has come on light years since that seminar.
Not all funders are following the Lottery’s lead. Many funders – especially some of the larger ones – display a lamentable lack of appreciation for the challenges facing small charities at the moment. I have torn my hair out trying to persuade some funders to give an idea of whether they would fund a particular project or staff post, only to be told that the charity I am representing needs to spend long hours preparing a detailed submission – so that they can be told they are not going to receive funding !
Another frequent response is “Look at our website”. I always look at funders’ websites before telephoning them. The reason I am telephoning is precisely because their website is not clear or, more usually, because the charity’s activities or project(s) don’t fall neatly into any of the funders’ programmes – but, however, do cover some of their key points.
The good news is that these “difficult” funders tend to be in a minority. Most Trust and Foundation directors and correspondents are happy to take a few minutes to give guidance and explain why their Trustees might, or might not, fund your charity.
We must just hope that those which have not yet seen the light learn from those that have !