At the Food For Thought workshop in February we were lucky enough to have a presentation from Janet Herniman looking at both what grant funding is currently available and also sharing some of her top tips for making funding bids successful.
BREXIT has undoubtedly introduced uncertainty in the grant funding landscape, but the government is expected to continue supporting investment in our business performance one way or another both before and after March 2019, largely because it’s good for our economy.
Janet is in a rare position as she works closely with several of the grant awarding authorities in Devon and so in in an excellent position to give us the most up to date information about what is available in which area.
Also, this experience gives her detailed knowledge on what makes the difference between a fantastic application and one that is turned down.
She had four points to consider when writing an application:
Work out exactly what the project is; how does it help your business? Does the investment create cost savings, waste reduction or extra employment?
Grants are available to support investment that would otherwise not take place – there is no slush fund for “white elephant” projects.
A successful application will illustrate that there is an opportunity to make profits and grow your business. However if you can use hire purchase funding to finance the investment, or if you are lucky enough to already have the cash to pay for it, then you don’t need a grant and are unlikely to be get one.
When it comes to explaining why the plan you have should be backed by grant funding you’ve got to have more than vague ideas for what the benefits will be. Grant assessors want to see specific proof in terms of:
– what new sales you can generate?
– who will buy your new product or service?
– how much more profit will you make?
– how many jobs will you create as a result?
– what about benefits for your suppliers?
– how do you know all this?
Any successful grant bid is potentially subject to an audit to prove that the grant was spent as described in the application. This means that you need to keep records (or at least notes with your accounts) to be able to provide evidence.
Obviously it is easier to do this while the project is going on, instead of four years later when you’re told about an audit.
In rounding up, Janet stressed that while a successful application took a lot of work and preparation, the benefits of getting 40% (or more) of the cost of your investment back is well worth it.