More than a numbers game
There are some scary statistics out there about the level of funding applications that are unsuccessful. There are good reasons why, as funders, we have to say ‘no’. Sometimes, the application simply didn’t fit our criteria or we received an incomplete or late application. But, a standout reason why so many applications are unsuccessful is due to the sheer volume received that there just isn’t the money available to support.
This creates a double-hit on the precious time and resources of both those seeking the funding and those administering those applications. For those seeking the funding, it can become nothing more than a numbers game. For those dealing with all those applications, how demoralising it is to spend so much money on administering rejection and then not even having the resources to provide any, let alone meaningful, feedback.
As a young and relatively small-scale foundation, here at Longleigh we have been given an amazing opportunity to be as transformative as possible – in readiness for scaling our model up – to do all we can to ensure that applying for our funding is more than a numbers game.
We’ve deliberately positioned ourselves as a funder that is dedicated to providing funding for the individuals and communities served by the social housing sector. We’ve then chosen to be a funder that wants to complement the wider offer in the funding sector by focusing on how we use our money to ‘go beyond meeting need’ and into the space where transformational change can happen. And, we’ve decided that we don’t want to accept unsolicited applications. Instead, we will put out ‘calls for applications’ about specific themes we want to fund.
These conscious filters are working with over 90% of the Project Grant applications received over the last 18-months being approved, to the value of some £900,000, with most applications being approved for three-year funding too.
We are very mindful that messages from the funding sector that talk about how overwhelmed it has been with applications to various funds and, therefore, the very limited number that are successful may only serve to discourage organisations from applying. We’ve no desire to have £5 million of completed applications for £500,000 of funding so we are trying to work differently and communicate differently too. We’re going to continually strive to build hope and aspiration with organisations and not do anything to dampen it.
What we’ll continue to do is be relational to the core, working hand-in-hand with the organisations that we invite in to the application process. We’ll invest our time and precious operating resources into supporting success rather than having more and more creative ways of saying ‘no’.
Getting close to the organisations we fund has been a revelation; a journey of discovery and learning; and an absolute inspiration and joy for both parties. This is just what it needs to be if we are to continue in the pursuit of our mission to provide funding that enables lives to be transformed. Have a look at our videos about some of the projects we’ve funded to hear more about how they found working with Longleigh.