Making it happen
A guide for Districts or Counties who have decided to provide financial support to their groups.
Criteria and limits
The first thing to consider is what criteria, guiding principles or limits you are going to set for those who apply for funds. These should be straightforward, not complex and realise you might still need some flexibility based on the applications you receive. Occasionally for example, you might decide a Group needs more financial help than they applied for and you need to be able to address that – financial problems don’t go away.
An obvious one to start with is Gift Aid. All Groups in the UK are entitled to Gift Aid and should be claiming it. If a Group has asked the District for financial support but has not already registered for Gift Aid then the District should support the Group to do this as a matter of urgency, even if very few parents earn enough to claim.
Some funders use the location of a charity to decide whether they will support it or not as it can tell the funder if the charity is serving more deprived communities. There are slightly different systems in the four nations, England for example uses IMD, or indices of multiple deprivation. Taking public data across a number of different categories, all parts of the country are grouped into IMD deciles. A group that is in IMD decile 1 to 3 is considered to be in about the 30% most deprived parts of the country.
You need to consider the financial position of the Group that has applied for support. What do their annual accounts show? If the Group itself is well funded and has reserves, it is important to understand why they feel they need financial support from the District. This should be a conversation, not an interrogation!
You also need to consider how many grants you can afford and whether you are looking to fund 100% of any grant request, or if you are only going to fund a portion of it, or a fixed amount. For example you might decide, based on the finances of the District that you can only safely provide 10 grants up to £1000 (£10,000 in total), or you might only offer up to 50% of any grant up to certain limits e.g. up to £700; with a maximum fund of £10,000 to grant. Alternatively you might have three Groups in dire need of financial assistance and you agree to fund them £2,500 each over twelve months.
All of this needs to be carefully considered and will depend on what you can afford to grant, and how much support your Groups need. For everyone’s sake, you should try and make criteria and limits as simple and straight forward as possible. Indeed it might be better to agree a set of guiding principles, rather than a rigid set or criteria and add a dose of common sense into the decision making – whilst ensuring you are not bias towards any applications.