Ask a Grant Manager – February 2019

Ella Sips – Grant Manager for the North East.

Ella Sips is our Grant Manager for the North West of England. She joined the Foundation in May 2018 with over 20 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, most recently as CEO of a CVS in Cheshire.

Ella loves the people aspect of her job, especially meeting charities and learning more about how they make a difference to people’s lives.

“Meeting beneficiaries, seeing the amazing work the charities do and playing a small role in helping to make things better is both emotional and humbling. It’s job satisfaction x1,000 in my book!”

While you’d never guess it from her accent, Ella was born in the Netherlands and is a bilingual English and Dutch speaker. When she’s not at work, you can often find Ella putting her engineering background to good use by renovating her house – including doing the plastering and floors herself!

Q: My application for grant was refused as it was not sufficiently holistic in its approach. Could you explain how I can improve my application?

We do offer feedback on unsuccessful grant applications, so please call our Service Delivery Team on 0370 411 1223, and they can help you get more detailed feedback on your specific application.

In more general terms, we are looking for evidence that the charity offers person-centred services. People often come in with a specific issue, but their situation is usually complex. What we look for is that the charity talks to the person and finds out what else is going on and helps the person to address the wider issues. They don’t have to do this all themselves – they can partner with specialist agencies or refer people to their services.

For example, a homelessness charity might see that a service user also mentions relationship, debt, mental health and dependency problems. We’d be looking to see how the charity helps to address these issues, with a planned, progressive approach with their own services, and through their referral pathways to other agencies, rather than just helping the person into short- or long-term accommodation.

For the individual it can seem like a mountain, but charities are very good at breaking these complexities down into little hills and addressing them separately.

Q: We’re currently are in the last 6 months of a 2-year pilot Invest project. We wish to continue our successful project; would we need to reapply?

The simple answer is yes – unless you were originally awarded continuation funding you will need to submit a new application. Our Invest grantees can apply for continuation funding in the last year of their grant. We would also need to see and approve your Year Two Monitoring Report before you apply.

As you are delivering a pilot project, I’d also advise you to have a quick chat with your Grant Manager before you reapply to discuss if this work has generated enough evidence to support an application for further funding. Finally, under our new strategy we have introduced some changes to our funding, please look at our updated guidance and check you are still eligible.

Q: Do you have any plans to open up grant funding to CICs?

As part of our new strategy, we recently reviewed our funding criteria. After thinking long and hard, we decided to continue our focus on small to medium-sized charities as we already have far more demand than we can meet. So, for now we don’t have any plans to open our funding to Community Interest Companies (CICs).

We do however allow CICs to make a joint application with charities, as long as the charity is the lead partner.

Have  a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

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