Thumbs up for Council funding fair

Press Release: 26/04/2013

Nicki Youern

Nicki Youern

Around 120 representatives of voluntary organisations in and around the Winchester District came together this week to explore ideas for increasing and diversifying their income to weather the tough economic climate.

Winchester City Council’s ‘Meet the Funders’ event on Wednesday 24 April gave the organisations a chance to hear from experts about opportunities ranging from National Lottery programmes to legacies, and from digital fundraising to social enterprise initiatives.

Top of the bill was Nicki Youern of the charity You which works across Hampshire to provide flexible care, support and advice services for vulnerable people. Nicki encouraged delegates to be brave and think ambitiously, whatever the size of their organisation.

Pat Cook of the Big Lottery urged people to look at basic sources of evidence to check that projects and initiatives were genuinely needed – and to talk to potential clients or service users to ensure that they really wanted them – before applying for grants. She gave some practical tips about how to do this, helping to demystify the whole process of making grant applications.

Meanwhile, Stephen Boyce, the City Council’s Arts Advisor with a distinguished career working in both heritage and the arts, reminded people not to ‘chase the money’ and lose sight of their main purpose in the process.

Delegates also had the chance to attend workshop sessions with other funders and experts, including a charities expert from the legal practice Blake Lapthorn and trainers from Hampshire & the Isle of Wight Community Foundation who offered tips on making the most of on-line giving. Other funding bodies gave one-to-one advice from their stands, including the South Downs National Park and Sport Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Eloise Appleby, Winchester City Council’s Assistant Director (Economy and Communities), said:

The event was excellent, with some very well-informed speakers, lots of useful information for the various organisations, and very positive feedback. I hope it does inspire groups to diversify their funding, and reduce their expectation of Council grants in the coming years. Whilst we have protected budgets for grants to the voluntary sector this year, with over £700,000 available through our programmes in 2013/14, we will struggle to maintain this level in future years.

The funding bodies also found the event worthwhile, with representatives of the Heritage Lottery Fund saying that it was the best-organised event of its kind that they had ever attended.

Feedback showed that delegates were keen for more such gatherings in future, with particular interest in how to approach trusts and foundations, hearing from Children and Need and spending more time learning from the experience of fellow delegates.

Melissa Fletcher, the Council’s Funding and Support Officer who organised the event, added:

Many of the groups represented at ‘Meet the Funders’ provide essential services to vulnerable people, whilst others exist to brighten our lives, encourage us to live healthily or help us develop new skills and interests. Taken together, they are an important part of what makes the Winchester District a special place. We will do all we can to support the voluntary sector through this time of austerity.