Funding Advice Services

As part of the Transforming Local Infrastructure Programme in Lincolnshire, some members of Involving Lincs have come together to look at the funding advice services offered by partners across Lincolnshire. We have worked together to develop a joint delivery model which aims to centralise information, making it easier for groups and individuals seeking funding or funding advice to identify where they can access support.

This work has resulted in the development of the Funding Advice Services area of the Involving Lincs website as a central gateway to the funding advice services available throughout the county.

As a part of this work we have developed the Involving Lincs Funding Advice Services Key Principles.

Where Can I Get Funding Advice?

Please click on the map to find out which organisations offer support in your area. 

West Lindsey South Kesteven South Holland North Kesteven Lincoln City East Lindsey Boston Image Map

There are a number of organisations who offer funding advice and specialist support to communities, groups and individuals.

Many of these organisations are often able to provide services free of charge to groups and organisations.  Where this is not available we can provide a cost effective service.  Please contact the individual organisation to find out more.

Funding Advice – Frequently Asked Questions

About Involving Lincs

Can you give us some funding?

We can’t, but we can help you to find organisations that might! Many Involving Lincs members support voluntary and community organisations to find funding from other sources, and some members also administer small grant pots.
Setting up an organisation

I'm confused, how do I start?

You need to have certain things in place as a group before most grant funders will consider you. One is a governing document, which sets out what your group does and how it is managed (see ‘What is a constitution and why do I need one?’ below). Another is a bank account in the group’s name, needing at least two signatories. Lastly, you need to know what you want to fundraise for (this is called ‘the project’), and how much you need. When you’ve got this information, you can go onto the Lincolnshire Funding Portal and start searching for suitable funders, or contact one of our local funding advisors.

What is a constitution and why do I need one?

A constitution is a written set of rules which includes the aims and objectives of your organisation, a general description of how these will be carried out and the structure of the management committee. Groups can operate without a constitution but they are then considered informal groups and will find it hard to apply for funding. While a constitution is probably the most common type of governing document in the community sector, there are other types available depending on the legal structure of your organisation (see ‘Which is the right legal structure for me’ below).

I'm not a registered charity, can I fundraise?

Yes, many smaller organisations are not registered charities and operate as constituted groups. If your income is below £5,000 you cannot register as a charity but can still be considered charitable and apply for funding. If your income is above this level, you should register with the Charity Commission to become a registered charity. Many funders will only fund registered charities but some will also fund constituted groups.
Deciding on a project

What is a project?

‘Project’ has a very clear meaning in a funding bid. It’s the bit you want them to fund. Many people will use the word to refer to their whole organisation, so it can be confusing at first. Be clear what you are asking for – your project could be one activity, a piece of equipment or a particular job. It could also be a year’s worth of activity, in which case the project and organisation descriptions can be very similar.

When funders ask for evidence of need, what do they mean?

You might have a brilliant idea for a project, but the funder will want to know whether it will be successful – is there a demand for it and how can you demonstrate this? When money is tight, they will want to fund projects where need is greatest. If you want to improve people’s health, you’ll need to show what the particular problem is, and that there aren’t other people offering similar services already. You need to make your case by researching areas like deprivation statistics, Council or Health reports, information from national bodies and so on. It’s also important to include local information – have you researched what’s currently available, and what the people you want to help would like to see (see ‘how can I consult with my users?’ below)?

How can I consult with my users?

It’s a good idea to ask the people who use, or may use, your group or service what they would like and what is important to them. This helps to show funders that it’s not just you that has had a bright idea for a project, but that potential users are behind the idea or have had input into developing it too. You could survey your group members or the local community – doing this at a meeting or event could be a good idea as then you can get the surveys back straight away without having to rely on them being posted back to you. If you have email addresses, you could devise a simple online survey to send out to your users or potential users. You could also talk face-to-face to your users or the local community, again at an event or meeting or by setting up a stall where people are going to be such as at the local health clinic or supermarket (with permission of course) and recording the answers.

I've got a good idea but the committee isn’t behind it

That’s why many funders ask for two contacts to support a bid! The committee has overall responsibility for what the group does, so they need to agree what bids are going in. If a bid goes in without their knowledge, it could prevent them applying to that funder for a year, so it’s vital that they plan and agree what they are going to do. You need to talk to them and find out what their concerns are.
Identifying Funders

Where can I get money for my project?

There are several sources of funding – you can run fundraising events, charge membership or admission, sell goods and services (individually or as part of a contract). You can work in partnership with the private sector, or wealthy individuals. There are also grants, given by charitable trusts, the National Lottery, or (in decreasing amounts) by Councils or health bodies. Each type of funding has its own pros and cons. Decide which ones are best for what you want to do.

Can I have a list of funders?

There are directories listing thousands of charitable trusts you could apply to. They will have different priorities, will fund in different areas, give different amounts or fund only certain types of organisation. It’s better to search for ones which are likely to fund your particular project (see ‘How do I pick the right funder?’ below).

How do I pick the right funder?

You can use Lincolnshire Funding Portal Search tool! On the Lincolnshire Funding Portal website you can do a search of possible funders, based on the people you are helping, where your project is based, how much money you need, and what you want the funding for. This search will give you a list of the funders best suited to the project you want to fund and the type of costs you are looking to meet. Or you can talk to a local Funding Advisor who can help with the search, or help you identify other ways of generating income that could work for your group.

What sort of funders will be interested in my project?

The ones that share your organisation’s aims and motivations. Look for specific links to the work that you do – for example, ‘we fund children’s activities’. Use your Funding Search to check for funders that fit in terms of client group, grant size, and geography. It’s also good to get clues to a funder’s vision – one funder says ‘we want to address the needs of people in society who suffer the effects of institutional injustice’. Look at the language they use, to see whether they share your passions.
Planning a funding bid

How long does it take to get money?

We would recommend allowing a few months to fundraise; you need time to complete a good application and funders only meet at certain times of the year, some quarterly, some only once a year. For a major capital project, or substantial running costs, you need to allow more time to fundraise. There are some funds which are designed to be a quick process, however. For example, BIG Lottery’s Awards for All scheme aims to give you a decision within 30 working days of receiving a completed application. So do check the funder you are applying to for specific timescales.

How many funders should I apply to?

It’s always a good idea to apply to several, as it increases your chances of success. Use your funding search to select suitable funders, pick out those with the best fit in terms of priorities, deadlines and grant size, and send off the bids. Around half a dozen is a respectable number. This is established practice – funders know you are likely to be doing this, and may well collaborate if they see you have written to a neighbouring funder.

What is a business plan?

It sets out how you will get from A to B. The first stage in writing a plan is to decide where you want to go. Suppose your organisation currently offers an outreach service and, having looked at its environment, current trends and plans within Council and Health bodies, decides to change to offering telephone or online support. A business plan will set the current scene, and describe the thinking behind the change. It will set out the practical steps needed to make the change happen – staffing implications, changes to premises, IT and phone system requirements, how the change will be communicated to users. It will detail the costs involved, any fundraising required, the risks, and the planned timescale. You may be asked to provide a business plan for large bids – it shows the funders you have rigorously analysed what you are wanting to do.

Why won't they just give me the money?

Many charitable trusts are only able to fund around one in ten applications, because they receive so many of them. They have to choose between applications, so they need to know what you’re doing, who it will help, and what difference it will make. All funders have their own priorities, so they also need to know that the work you want to do fits the work they want to fund. Finally, funders want to know that the organisations they are funding are capable of doing the work they have described, so that the money isn’t wasted.
Writing Funding Bids

Can you help me with my application?

Yes, several Involving Lincs members do offer this type of support. Writing a funding bid can be a daunting thing to do, especially if you’re new to it. Use the information on the Funding Services page to find out which member organisations offer support in your area.

How much should I apply for?

As much as you need. Don’t go for the ‘gold plated’ option, but equally, don’t try and do things on the cheap. If you need toys for a playscheme, funders will understand that they need to be good and strong – cheap ones will break and need replacing sooner. Don’t include special offers in your costs – they might have finished by the time you get the money. Groups are often scared of seeming greedy – but if you know what you need to do the work, that’s what funders want you to ask for.

What are in-kind contributions?

They are goods, services or even time that help your project, but aren’t money. Examples are free use of a community room, photocopying done by a local firm, or the time volunteers give to run activities or manage the organisation. Some funders won’t give 100% of the costs of a project, and will ask for match funding. Often, some of this can be ‘in kind’ contributions as well as other money coming in, and once all volunteers’ time is counted up, this can be a high proportion of the cost of the work.

How do I prepare a budget?

The basic steps are to identify what you want to do, list all the resources/items involved, and work out a cost for each one. It’s important the costs are realistic – don’t go for cheap equipment that won’t last or special offers that might end. Equally, don’t go overboard – if you need a laptop to keep accounts and minutes, it won’t need a top of the range graphics card. There are things that often get left out of budgets, so don’t be caught out – items like VAT, insurance, consumables and storage are sometimes forgotten. If your project is running for longer than a year, you will also need to factor in the cost of inflation for certain items – will that room hire charge have increased in twelve months’ time?

What are capital and revenue costs?

Capital costs are one-off costs for things which will be long-term assets, such as buildings, equipment or vehicles – for example, installing a playground, or refurbishing, buying or constructing a youth centre, or purchasing an IT system for your organisation. Revenue costs are those associated with running your projects – for example, salaries, consumables, publicity, venue hire. Some funders prefer capital costs so it’s always important to check each funder’s definition, and their own guidelines on the costs they will consider.

Can I get funding from the same funder twice?

Sometimes; read the guidance – funders are usually very clear about whether you can apply to them again. Some will say yes, perhaps for a different project. Others may say you can’t apply again within a certain timescale. With charitable trusts, it can be very useful to build up a relationship with them which may lead to further funding. Recent research showed that a lot of trusts are only funding people they know – they regarded bids from new groups as risky compared to funding groups they knew would deliver.
Getting the results of your funding bid

What if two funders offer us the money?

You’ve done very well! It is often possible to negotiate to keep the money, but you must be open with each funder. If you’ve asked for something that can only be a one-off, contact the funder most likely to be flexible and ask whether you can use the money for something similar. If you’ve asked for something that can be expanded (for example, running activity sessions for twelve months rather than six), it’s worth checking whether this would be acceptable. The golden rule here is – talk to the funder.

My bid has been rejected, what can I do?

If possible, ask them why your bid wasn’t successful. Some funders may not be able to give feedback, but others may be able to offer helpful advice on what would improve a future bid. If you want to re-apply, check the funder’s requirements. Some will let you put in a modified bid straight away, but others may ask you to wait before you can apply again – possibly for up to a year.

Why won't anyone fund my project?

If your application for funding isn’t successful, try to get feedback from the funder if possible. There could be several reasons for a lot of rejections – while your project may be very dear to you, perhaps funders don’t see it as being workable, or of value to the community. Ask someone who can be honest with you what they think. Are you a properly set up group? Perhaps you’re applying to unsuitable funders, or not presenting your project clearly enough. The Involving Lincs member organisations who offer funding advice services may also be able to help you – refer to the information on the Funding Services page to find out which member organisations offer support in your area.





Are you ready to apply for funding?

We have put together a Funding Health Check and a Getting Started Checklist to give you an overview of the type of questions a funder will ask you and to help you decide whether you are ready to apply. The research you do as part of your project development will help you gather answers, and there is lots of help available at every step of the way. You can download these documents using the links below.

Funding healthcheck

Getting Started Checklist

What are the Key Principles?

Involving Lincs has developed a set of key principles which define the standards of funding advice services across organisations. These Key Principles have a number of requirements that show that an advice agency has a well-managed service, with staff who have relevant and up to date knowledge, and ensures that the quality of advice and support you receive will remain high.

View the key principles

Useful Links

The Lincolnshire Funding Portal is a community funding support website for the Lincolnshire area, this website includes an online search tool for local and national funding

Search for funding now

The Involving Lincs Database of Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations is a web based database provides contact details for voluntary and community organisations across Lincolnshire, helping you to find the groups that you are interested in and helping the groups to promote their activities.

Search the database now

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