Navigating the new grants landscape

A lot has changed in the grants world over the past six months. Sarah Everson looks at what this means for schools, and identifies potential opportunities

Receiving a grant can be an amazing boost for your school, both psychologically and financially. Yet competition for grant funding has never been fiercer. Many grants that schools can apply for are also available to charities and voluntary groups, so at the height of lockdown many funders were inundated with applications, as organisations reached out in order to cover their costs or fund initiatives in response to the coronavirus fallout.

Significant cutbacks

Often, grant funders themselves can be charities, or the charitable arm of a business. The pandemic has had a huge impact on many of these grant givers. Some paused their funds because they felt unable to properly administer their grant schemes, or because the activities they would normally fund could not take place during lockdown or times of social distancing. Many struggling businesses cut back significantly on their charitable giving. For example, most large airports usually offer grants to local charities and schools as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. These grant funds were suspended early on in the crisis as airports were forced to ground flights.

Targeted support

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Some funders have used the crisis to target their grant-giving efforts at organisations that support young people, or other groups most affected by the impact of Covid-19. For example, the National Lottery Community Fund is now focusing its Awards for All programme on ‘funding projects and organisations helping communities through the Covid-19 pandemic’.

It has also streamlined its processes, so grants can be obtained more quickly and easily. New funds have appeared as well, such as the DfE’s grant for exceptional costs associated with coronavirus.

Search by area

As well as national grant givers, there are hundreds of local funds to tap into. These are perhaps less well known and so less overwhelmed by demand. They will also be more in tune with the needs of your geographical location. Smaller grant givers can be found via the Community Foundation in your area (ukcommunityfoundations.org) or through your local authority website. Alternatively, your local voluntary action organisation may be able to offer advice or leads on regional grants.

A lot of subject-specific grants are still available too. The Institute of Physics is continuing to run its School Grants Scheme, and the Royal Society of Chemistry has not only increased the maximum value of its small outreach grants from £2,000 to £5,000, but also increased the number of deadlines from three a year to one a month. Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Trust has small grants available for RE resources in secondary schools. So if you have a project in mind that relates to a particular area of the curriculum, it’s still worth exploring the grants that are available. Don’t forget, you can search the FundEd grants database (funded.org) by subject as well as geographical area.

 

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