Towards the end of the 2014 season we decided to make a concerted effort to raise funds to improve our infrastructure, which will increase participation and improve performance. As well as funding from our main sponsor Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream, Ilkley Round Table, Skipton Craven Rotary and a number of local businesses, we have secured a Sport England grant of £9,900 to pay for a new heavy roller and roll-on wicket covers. Here are our brief thoughts on how best to go about applying for funding.


Further information is available on the Sport England website


1. Understand the funder's objectives

When applying to a funder, read and understand their guidance, then read it again! All funders will have very clear objectives which you must address to have a chance of success. Sport England, for instance, wants to see increased participation and improved performance levels, so it will improve your chance of success if your project application addressess those fundamental objectives.


2. Why is your project needed?

This is critical - you must demonstrate that there is a local demand for your project. Back this up with evidence: waiting lists, letters of support, or other evidence of support. Your application must clearly demonstrate how your project will meet this local demand.


3. What difference will your project make?

What sporting opportunities will your project provide, and how will they impact on the principal Sport England objectives? In essence, how will your project get more people playing sport? - you need to be very clear about this.


4. Develop a project which will bring about long-term improvements  

All funders, particularly Sport England, want to see their funding bring about long-term improvements in participation and performance, so it is important to develop a project which does exactly that. The future of the game in your local area is important, and you need to show how your project will bring about lasting benefits.


5. Communicate your objectives clearly in your application

Once you have developed your project concept, it is essential that your application communicates clearly and accurately how the funding will bring about improvements in participation and performance. The language you use must be intelligible and concise. Above all, it must quantify what you will do and how you will do it. This means providing numeric evidence - how many more people will become involved, when and for how long? What will you do to achieve your objectives, and how will you sustain that improvement?


6. Value for money

As ever, obtaining value for money is an essential part of any fundraising effort, and you must demonstrate that your project represents good value. This is likely to include obtaining two or three quotes for capital expenditure, and your application should illustrate how the funding will secure performance and participation benefits into the future.


7. Volunteers

Again, many funders want to see increased participation in the development and implementation of your project, so it helps if you have lots of volunteers to help deliver the project. This is likely to include coaching juniors and organising local fund-raising events.This sends a positive message within your local community and shows that you are willing to put in the effort to achieving your objectives.


8. Delivery Plan

It will help to develop a delivery plan which sets out what you want to achieve and how you will achieve these objectives. Development of this plan should be a collaborative effort, perhaps by your committee or a project working group. Again - increased participation is the key! It is essential that critical tasks are designated to nominated individuals (best to ask them first!) who are happy and competent to carry out that activity. At the end of the day, it is the effort of individuals which will make this happen.


9. Persevere

Fundraising can be a painstaking process: do not expect success at the first attempt. If your initial application is unsuccessful, take careful note of any comments and feedback, re-read the guidance notes, and have another go - it is worth the effort!


10. Summary

In summary, it is essential to remember that funders will rarely provide you with capital to buy equipment or carry out improvements to your facilities unless this investment will bring about long-term improvements in participation and performance. Sport England, for instance, won't provide funds simply to replace a worn-out mower or other equipment without those key long-term benefits. You must demonstrate the impact their funding will have on the number of people, from all sectors of society, who will take up the sport and improve their performance levels.


Further information is available on the Sport England website