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Growing Communities Fund – frequently asked questions

Can I apply for more than one grant at the same time?

In the past we had said yes to this however this time, we are severely limited in funds so this is not possible as we would like to spread our funding as far and wide across Devon as possible so that we can support as many people and communities as we can. We would ask that you think carefully about what funding your organisation needs and only apply for a grant where your activity clearly fits with the specific criteria for that grant scheme. . Please also bear in mind that our decision-making panels will take the number of applications you have in progress into consideration when deciding which applications to fund.

Can I only apply online?

Devon Growing Community Funds aim to be as inclusive and accessible as possible. For this reason, if using our online application form creates a barrier to access for applying for funding, we will happily discuss an alternative option with you. If you would like to discuss this with us, please email or call 01392 383379.

We may, from time to time launch new grant opportunities that have their own specific criteria and recommend that you always read these in detail prior to applying. It may be possible to apply for one of these grants whilst you are working on another grant funded project if the activity described is different and we can see no duplication.

Can we apply for the same thing once our funding comes to an end?

Yes, in the following financial year, if you have provided a satisfactory end-of-grant evaluation and met the conditions of your grant we may consider this, but we do look for evidence of ongoing learning and evaluation within your reporting. Our funding is limited and, in cases where we may receive a high volume of applications, we will prioritise applications using the priorities outlined within the criteria for that grant scheme.

If we have funded your work repeatedly for a while, we may get in touch to help you identify alternative sources of funding.

Is there a deadline for applying?

Please refer to the specific criteria for the grant that you are interested in. Whilst we aim to publish any deadlines for funding on our website, we do occasionally need to close an application round early if we spend the funding sooner than anticipated. We will always make it clear in the guidance notes if this could be a possibility.

We will closely monitor the amount of funding available and publicise through our website and social media when we will be closing for applications. At this point, we will contact all organisations that have an application in progress, including those who have registered for a grant, to notify them that it is closing and provide time for the application to be completed and submitted for consideration.

Applications that are received after the advertised deadline will not be considered. Please ensure that all accompanying documents are received by the deadline too.

Do I need to meet the word count limit on the application form?

No, not if you are able to tell us what you would like us to know in fewer words. It’s important that we gain as much detail and understanding as we can about what you would like to do, and our grant application forms reflect the scale of detail we look for. Please do not view the word count as a target to meet.

We hope that by using it as a guide you understand the level of detail we would like and have enough space to tell us all we need so that we do not have to contact you for further information.

We review our word count limits regularly to ensure that they allow applicants to provide enough information for us to fully assess the application.

You have funded my organisation several times and know our work. Do I need to tell you everything and send documents again?

Whilst we like to build relationships and really get to understand the work of organisations we fund, we do treat every application and assessment as a ‘stand-alone’ process. Please do not assume that the assessor or decision-making panel members know your work well.

It is important that each application is as detailed and informative as it can be and refers to the criteria and desired outcomes for the specific grant scheme. Due to the limited funding available it is common for organisations who are well known to us and do good work not to be funded.

We’ve been asked to be a host organisation for someone else. Does that mean we can’t apply to you for our own work?

No. Host organisations can apply to us in their own name for support for their own work if they meet our eligibility criteria.

What costs can we request funding for?

We want organisations to let us know what funding they need in order to be able to continue providing support to communities across Devon. For this reason, our community grants criteria are deliberately open.

We publish specific guidance for all our grant schemes. It is important that you read these to understand where they differ from our standard guidance, including details of what we will and won’t fund. In all cases, it is important that you provide us with a detailed budget and description of activity and the difference you aim to make so that we can understand as fully as possible how our funding will be used.

Do you fund core costs and overheads?

We define core costs as the overhead costs of an organisation, as opposed to those specific to a project. Whilst these costs do not directly produce outputs of charitable activity, they are deemed to be necessary to deliver these activities. These are central costs that are not directly applicable to delivering work, such as management and admin salaries, general office costs, accountancy and audit, fundraising and governance/compliance costs.

Not all GCF grant schemes will fund core costs, so applicants should always check the specific guidance for the grant scheme to which they are applying prior to submission.

Is there a maximum amount that we can apply for?

This will vary, depending on what grant you are applying for. Please refer to the specific guidance for the grant for which you are applying.

How much information do you need in our budget?

We provide space for you to tell us about different aspects of your budget. You should tell us how much of the total for each of these you would like us to fund if the full cost of your work is more. It will help your application if you give as much detail as you can. List clearly how the total sum has been calculated (itemise the elements) and where any additional funding is coming from.

We need more money than the grant scheme offers. Can we apply for more?

Our funds are limited, and we work hard to make sure we reach as many people as possible to make the most difference. We ask that you do not apply to us for more than the stated maximum amount for each grant advertised. It is likely that your application will be rejected if you do so. Please do tell us on your application form how much the work you are applying for costs in total and where any other funds to support it may be coming from. This helps us to understand your work more fully.

We cannot afford to pay all the VAT upfront. What can we do?

If the services or items that you are applying for include VAT and your organisation plans to reclaim that cost later, you should exclude it from your budget request. We recognise that, for some larger projects, finding this money up front may be challenging. In this instance we ask that you contact us to discuss your individual proposal.

Is there a maximum income threshold for organisations looking to apply for funding?

As a rule, our priority for our funding is small, locally based organisations supporting communities across Devon with priority given to organisations with an income below £250,000.

We are a small community group without a constitution. Are we able to apply for funding?

Provided the funding that you are looking for meets with the specific criteria for the grant you would like to apply for, this may be possible. If you don’t yet have your own bank account and/or are not formally constituted, we may consider an application from you if you have an organisation that is prepared to act as a host to receive the grant funding on your behalf.

Not all grant schemes allow for the use of host organisations. Read the specific grant guidance to find out if it is possible for you. If the grant you are applying for will allow the use of host organisations, the relevant application form will provide space for you to provide contact details for them.

We are a school. What do you mean when you say you won’t fund statutory provision?

Statutory provision relates to the delivery of the national curriculum and any legal compliance and would not be eligible (this would include funding teaching staff or teaching assistant salaries, classroom resources, any kind of safeguarding activity, SEND provision, building maintenance, or expenses associated with complying with the Equalities Act). Activity that addresses a social issue, disadvantage or promotes health and well-being outside the school’s core educational business would be eligible for consideration, where the school is the most appropriate mechanism for delivery.

Do I need to provide all the documents?

If your application passes the first stage of assessment, we will ask you to supply any required documentation. If we do not receive the required documents, we are unlikely to fund your application. Please talk to us if you are unsure about this aspect of your application.

We don’t have a safeguarding policy. Can we still apply for funding?

We would expect all organisations working with children, young people and vulnerable adults to have relevant safeguarding policies and procedures. As we all have a duty of care to safeguard those at risk, we would have concerns if your organisation does not have appropriate up to date policies, where relevant.

We do not ask for copies of safeguarding polices as standard but some of our grant schemes, where priorities specifically relate to working with children, young people and vulnerable adults, will require them. Please refer to the guidance for the grant for which you are applying for funding.

Where we do not ask for safeguarding policies, the application form may include a question on safeguarding so that we can understand how embedded safeguarding is within your organisation. If you do not have safeguarding policies, you will be asked to explain why. As part of the terms and conditions, you will be asked to confirm that you have safeguarding policies in place, where appropriate.

If you don’t have a safeguarding policy, we would recommend that you check to see whether you should have one. The NSPCC website is a good source of information and resources.

We don’t have an equality policy. Can we still apply for funding?

GCF aims to be an inclusive and accessible organisation and as such, would expect all funded organisations to be aligned with this. As a rule, we don’t currently request copies of equality policies, or equivalent, to be submitted with an application but would expect all organisations to have them in place. Where we have a funding opportunity that does require a copy of an equality policy, the relevant guidance will advise of this.

As part of the terms and conditions, you will be asked to confirm that you have relevant equality policies in place. We would suggest that if you don’t have appropriate policies, you aim to resolve this prior to applying with us.

Why do we need to provide a cashflow breakdown?

This document will provide us with a financial picture for your organisation and an up-to-date indication of recent activity. These also give us a sense of how you fund your work and other support you receive that helps us understand what you do. We may contact you as part of the assessment of your application if we have any questions about your finances.

Can I provide bank statements for the past six months instead of a cashflow breakdown?

We need a breakdown of monthly income and expenditure in a format that allows our assessors to clearly build an understanding of the financial position of your organisation. Our assessors won’t have time to read through a series of bank statements to do this. The cashflow breakdown should be presented on an excel spreadsheet, in a word table, or equivalent. If this causes you problems do get in touch.

We are a school, church or similar organisation that is part of a larger federation, so we don’t have some of the documents you require. What should we do?

Please get in touch. We recognise that one size doesn’t fit all and can usually identify the equivalent document and information we need to inform our assessment.

How will we know if our application is successful and how soon will we know?

The decision and notification timeframe will be outlined in the specific grant guidance on our website. Applications are assessed and reviewed regularly by a decision-making panel, with decision emails sent shortly after the panel review.

Failure to provide supporting documents or unclear responses to the application questions may delay your application being considered by the panel.

If your application is successful, payment of the grant should be made within 28 working days of notification.

Will we need to sign a grant agreement if our application is approved?

When you submit your application for funding, you will be required to confirm that you have read, understood and agree to our standard terms and conditions in relation to submitting the application and being awarded a grant.

For our Community Grants, if your application is successful, these terms and conditions will form the Grant Agreement between GCF and your organisation. The decision email that you will receive from us will confirm the amount that has been awarded and will refer to the Terms and Conditions that you agreed to when submitting your application.

For other grants, it is likely that we will issue you with a Grant Agreement which will outline the agreed use of the funding and any conditions we require you to meet that are over and above our standard terms and conditions. This Grant Agreement will need to be signed and returned to us prior to payment being made to you. Please note that we do accept e-signatures.

What if the project changes or we do something different with the money?

We understand that things don’t always go to plan and that unexpected things happen. If you find this happens to your organisation, please talk to us at the earliest opportunity. If your overall project aims will still be met, we can usually apply flexibility, either in relation to the funded activity or length of the grant period.

It is important that you do not redirect our grant to a completely different piece of work and that you adhere to your grant conditions.

We will always aim to be as flexible and understanding as possible and will only ask for the funding to be paid back in exceptional circumstances. If in doubt, please get in touch.

Will I need to keep receipts? What records will I need to keep?

As part of our standard terms and conditions, we ask that you keep all receipts and financial records for a period of 7 years after your grant has finished. We undertake regular ‘spot-checks’ and may ask you to provide evidence of grant spend for the funding you received from us.

What end of grant evaluation will we need to complete if our application is approved?

This will vary, depending on what grant scheme you are applying for. Please refer to the guidance for the specific grant to which you are applying. We will always tell you about the reporting you will need to do in the application guidance.

In order to complete your end-of-grant evaluation, you may need to provide us with specific details about the funded activity, for example, the number of people who were supported with the funding, their age range and gender.

We would suggest that you keep a record of funded activity during the grant period, both in relation to the people accessing the activity and the number and type of activities.

What feedback will I get if my application isn’t successful?

If you do not meet our eligibility criteria for the grant for which you are applying, we will aim to notify you within 7 days of receipt of your application and will advise you in what way the application was not eligible.

What can I do if I don’t agree with a decision or want to make a complaint?

The decisions of our decision-making panels are ratified by our Senior Management Team. These decisions are final, but should you wish to complain about a decision please email in the first instance. A member of the team will be in touch to discuss further with you and to provide advice on our complaints procedure where required.

If our application is approved, can we publicise details?

Yes please! It is our aim to help as many groups as we possibly can, and that means spreading the word to others like yours and to potential donors that can help us build up even more funds.

By helping us to publicise the grants that we award, you will help us circulate the news of your amazing work with the hope that it will spark some more generosity and provide even more vital funds to support those looking after the most vulnerable in our communities. Thank you!

Who can I contact if I have any questions?

The Grants Team will be happy to answer any questions you may have about our funding, the application process, supporting documents or completing the application form. Please email with your inquiry and a member of the team will respond as soon as possible.