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Top Ten Tips for a Perfect Project Plan

top tips boardA project plan is an essential supporting document for funding applications. Here are 10 top-tips to make sure yours ticks all the right boxes!

1. Use the template provided by the funder to help you! Click here for an example.

2. Read the template headings carefully and make sure the information you include gives the right information; be specific and state target numbers/audiences wherever possible.

3. Put activities in chronological order.

4. Break down each activity and consider how you are going to plan it from beginning to end, and then include each stage in your project plan.

5. Make sure the project plan, application and budget are all aligned and consistent. During assessment they will be closely scrutinised so don’t include any surprises! Make sure every activity you mention can be linked to your application and, where appropriate, your budget.

6. Have a critical friend look over it. It needs to have enough detail so that if your project lead leaves, someone who doesn’t know your project would be able to deliver it confidently after reading your project plan – would they know exactly what to do and the order they need to do it? We understand that this document may change slightly over the duration of your project, but still include as many details as you can.

7. Make sure you think of practicalities and logistics rather than just end events; recruitment, planning meetings and evaluation all need to be considered where applicable.

8. Tie each activity back to the funders outcomes wherever possible, the ‘What will you achieve’ column is the best place to do this.

9. Tie each activity into a partnership agreement (if you are providing one). Or, consider providing letters of support demonstrating any external assistance.

10. The length of a project plan will depend entirely upon the nature of your activities and the grant requested – there is no ideal length! Just ensure that you are including all the relevant information.


Free Guide for Talking to Trustees About Communications Published

charity-commsCharityComms has published a new guide to help improve the relationship between charity communications professionals and the board.

The representative group for charity communications professionals published its latest best practice guide, How to talk to your trustees about comms, today to help comms professionals understand how to speak to the board and urges trustees to be more involved.

Vicky Browning, director of CharityComms, said: “In the new context for charities, with an increased emphasis on risk management and protecting reputations, trustees need to understand the value of communications to their organisations.

“Many trustee duties relate closely to core comms responsibilities around, for example, impact reporting, awareness-raising, accuracy of information, reputation management and transparency. Ultimately, a strategic approach to communications can help trustees deliver on virtually every organisational aim.
“But comms professionals aren’t always the best at speaking the language of the board.”

Ten questions for trustees
The guide also highlights ten questions for trustees to ask their comms teams, these are:
1. What can you bring to the development of our organisational strategy?
2. How do your comms strategy and activities progress the strategic aims and objectives of the charity?
3. What can you do to protect our reputation and mitigate risks?
4. Can you provide us with a daily/weekly/monthly briefing about internal and external issues and how these could impact on the organisation?
5. Will you coach us as needed – in social media, press interviews, crisis communications etc?
6. What oversight can you offer to other departments to help us ensure quality control of information flowing within the organisation and to outside audiences?
7. How can comms help us ensure transparency and integrity in the dealings of the organisation?
8. How can comms help us ensure the charity acts out its stated values?
9. How is comms working together with fundraising to ensure donor communications meet changes in the fundraising environment?
10. How can comms help us to demonstrate our impact, service quality and value for money?

From: Civil Society.co.uk


Planning Your Project – Part 1

Governance - Business Team PlanningGood planning is one of the most effective factors in being able to make a strong and convincing application. However, in our experience we have often found that a common weakness in applications is caused by people writing their applications before fully planning their project. The following tips and hints are an overview to outline what thinking should have taken place before an application is made.

Tips
You don’t have to do it all yourself. It is a very good idea to involve more than one person in planning your project. Different members of your committee or board and members of staff will have different skills and experience that they can bring to the process.

It is also important that before you start, you make sure that everyone involved in your project is in agreement about what you are trying to achieve and how you are going to do it.

1. Identify the need you want to address
Who are the people you will be working with and in what ways are they disadvantaged? How does this disadvantage affect their lives? A good understanding of the target audience and their needs will help you decide what differences you want to achieve for them.

Tip: We know that new projects cannot always be precise as they may not yet know the individual who will attend. What funders are looking for from new projects is a good understanding of the target audience the project is aimed at and how they are going to get these people involved.

You may know what the need is from experience if you are an existing organisation already working in the area. You can also research the need you want to address by doing things like:

• Having consultations with for example children and young people, the local community and/or partner organisations.
• Running a pilot project.
• Using research from your own or other organisations.

Come back next week to see the next Planning Your Project tips!

Remember SCVO is here to help so why not give us a call on 0121 525 1127 to see how we can help your organisation.


Top 5 tips for a tip-top event! – Part 4

Top TipsWell folks here’s your last five top tips to help you with your event planning. I hope you’ve picked up some top tips for when you are planning your community event. Remember if you would like support or advice SCVO is always happy to help. Just give us a call on 0121 525 1127.

• If you are sending an event press release, make sure you send it to your funder(s) or partners at least a week before you want it to go out so they can look over it for you!

• Are you having an official photographer of the event? Make sure they are briefed in advance if so, and ensure also that guests are aware that photos will be taken – some guests, including those with children – may not be happy for photos to be used. Depending on the size and scale of your event, you may wish to consider producing photograph consent forms.

• Make sure your volunteers/team/partners understand what is happening on the day. This includes knowing both their roles and the responsibilities of others in the group/team. Everyone on the group/team should know the key facts about the event i.e. what it’s about, why it is happening, as anyone from your organisation could be asked a question by a guest, a VIP or even a journalist.

• Evaluate! Project events can be a perfect chance to get feedback from your stakeholders and the public about your project, and the event itself. You can then use this in your evaluation report for Funders, and to learn from for any future events – so why not give out evaluation forms?

• Spread the word! Social media means that you can reach a wide audience of your followers and the public to show them the highlights of your event.


Top 5 tips for a tip-top event! – Part 3

community eventsHaving looked at the previous two weeks top tips for planning a tip-top event, how many of you were already thinking about our tips? Where you missing anything out? Well here’s another five tips to help you organise and plan your event.

 

• What food and drink are you going to provide? Cake always goes down well! What time of day you are having your event will affect what you provide.

• Think also about options for people with different dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, gluten-free, or vegan) religious/cultural requirements (e.g. halal or kosher) or children.

• Think about people’s different access requirements e.g. mobility, visual, intellectual – is your event accessible to everyone?

• Is there a loo? Make sure all your volunteers/staff know where it is so that they can direct people to it!

• Are you going to provide name badges? They can be really helpful for getting people to approach individuals they don’t know.

• Will your guests be given anything to take away? Any mementos of the event, or leaflets about your project? You might also want to give delegate packs with lists of who attended and information about the project.

Remember SCVO is here to help, just give us a call on 0121 525 1127 to find out more.


Top 5 tips for a tip-top event! – Part 2

EventsWe hope you found last week’s five top tips to planning your event interesting and useful? Here are another five top tips for you to consider in your event planning.

• Acknowledgements? Make sure that you order your acknowledgement materials at least a month in advance so that they can arrive in time, if you need to promote where you got your funding from for the event.

• Why not do a run through of the event a week or so in advance? That way you can be sure that everything will go to plan, and test any technical equipment you’re going to be using!

• Make sure you have enough chairs! People may want to sit down during speeches so make sure there are plenty of places for people to have a rest.

• If this is an outside event where seating isn’t possible make sure people don’t have to stand around for too long listening to speech after speech.

• If the event’s going to be outside, what is your plan if it rains?

• Agree in advance who in your group/team will take the different roles of welcoming people at the entrance, looking after your speakers, the Event Manager, the Press Manager, the catering, someone running the technology?

Remember if you would like any support or assistance with the event planning please call SCVO on 0121 525 1127.


Top 5 tips for a tip-top event – Part 1

events make your calendarAlthough we understand that all projects are different, we thought it might be helpful to put together some of our ‘top tips’ for running a project event. Over the next four weeks we’ll be putting out our five top tips to help you with the planning of your event.

So here are your first five things that you might want to think about when planning your event:

• Make sure that you start planning early! We recommend at least three months before the event, as that gives you time to agree the purpose of the event, secure a venue, finalise all the details and get all the invites out as early as possible! You might even want to send ‘save the date’ emails to your VIPs so you can make sure they are free.

• Speak to your stakeholders – what do they want from the event and how do they want to be involved in planning it?

• Keep funders informed so that they can make sure we are free and attend the event. Also, remember to add any other funders’ logos to any invites and publicity materials you send out.

• What budget have you got? Make sure you think carefully about your event before you apply for funding, so that you can get what you need, but also so that your event is good value for money.

• Speeches? Think about whom you want to do speeches and start getting those written early on – make sure you get all your ‘thank you’s in too!

There will be more tips in the next e-bulletin.  If your group/organisation would like support or assistance with planning your event please contact SCVO on 0121 525 1127.


Five Steps to Success in Fundraising – Part 2

Top tips grafHow did you get on with our previous five top tips? Here are another five top tips designed to help you with your fundraising activities.

Step 6 – write a good application
Write as clear and succinct an application as possible, making as good a case for support as you can.

Step 7 – manage the application process
You need to decide:
• who from your group will contact the funder and how
• whether an application should be put to them right away
• whether a meeting or a visit could usefully be arranged (where you are already known to the funder)

Step 8 – say thank you
Say thank you immediately if you succeed in getting the grant. Make a note of any obligations or restrictions on how you use the grant. Make sure your
organisation sticks to them!

Check if the funders need you to acknowledge the grant e.g. listing them in your annual report, in press releases or in newsletters and if you need to use/display their logo on your leaflets or publicity material.

If you are turned down find out why. Ask if you can meet to discuss your application.  Check if it is possible to reapply. Keep a note of any reasons you are given for being turned down.

Step 9 – keep in touch
Keep in touch with those who are currently supporting you but also with those who could do in the future.

Step 10 – go back
Ask those who have supported you this year to give further support next year. Go back to those who have turned you down if you feel they may be interested in new or future projects.


Five Steps to Success in Fundraising

5 top tipsAs a Charity fundraising is your lifeblood, which can be both challenging and rewarding all at the same time. You deeply rely on the success of your fundraising performance to be able to deliver your activities. Detailed below are a number of tips aimed at helping your organisation to be more successful with your fundraising activities.

Step 1 – keep the facts at your fingertips

Make sure that all the information you will need about your organisation and about the project is readily available.

Step 2 – get your organisation known
Get your organisation known to funders, the general public and other groups who can help.

Step 3 – develop grant winning ideas
Some ideas and some projects are so good that they have no difficulty in
being funded. Think about your work, and see if there are ideas or projects
that will more easily win a grant.

Get together with other groups, locally and nationally, to exchange ideas. Keep an eye on what others are doing, keep in touch with local trends.

A good idea:
• sounds fresh and interesting and captures the imagination
• seems obvious, even though no one has thought of it before
• has a catchy title
• fits with current thinking or concerns
• is different and stands out in the crowd
• has aspects which will appeal to several funders
• shows value for money
• adds to existing provision or involves working with other agencies
• has realistic targets
• is achievable

A fundable project is:
• specific – a piece of equipment or an aspect of your work
• important – both to your organisation and to the need it is meeting
• effective – the outcome should be worthwhile and bring a recognisable benefit
• realistic – the project should be achievable
• good value – value for money for the funder
• topical – it should meet current issues and concerns
• relevant – to the funders’ particular areas of interest
• bite-sized – not too large or small for a funder to support although costs may be shared through several small grants

Step 4 – sort out your fundraising strategy
Think about how your organisation is to be funded over the next few years. Is this realistic and what do you need to do to put your organisation’s funding on a secure footing?

Think about how you intend to attract funds for the project now and in the long term.

Step 5 – research and identify likely grant prospects
Match your ideas and projects with the interests and priorities of likely funders, and their levels of grant making to the amount of money you need.

Stay tuned for next weeks e-bulletin for five more tips.


Your Six Top Tips for Writing Better Funding Applications Part Two

top-tipsHow did you get on with our previous seven top tips? Here are another six top tips designed to help you write better funding applications.

1. Check Your Figures
It is confusing to read through an application where facts and figures don’t add up, so make sure the information is consistent throughout. The individual cost items you request on your cost breakdown should equal the total amount that you are requesting.

2. Make It Legible
Please DO NOT write in block capitals. It makes our job more administration-heavy if we have to convert everything.

3. Proof Read
Always, always proof read your application before sending it. Incorrect information wastes time and is easily avoidable.

4. Bare Minimum
At the very least, ensure you have done the bare minimum for your application. To send in information over and above what is requested is fine (as long as it does not equate to War and Peace). But to fail to meet even the minimum requirements is the quickest way to ensuring an unsuccessful application.

5. Be Different
We know that there are certain things that are not covered by statutory funding. And we know that the current climate means even more ‘every day’ items now need to be funded. But we don’t want to read 100 applications asking for the same thing, and we certainly are unable to fund them all. Please try to make your projects different and interesting.

6. Funders Talk
Funders talk to other funders. We like to share information with each other, particularly if we have experienced problems with an organisation. If you are applying to multiple funders, make sure you are consistent, and ensure you follow the rules.

Do you need a critical friend to review your funding application? Then why not give SCVO a call on 0121 5251127 to see how we can help you to enhance your application.


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