How to apply for peer support funding
Applying for funding is one of the most effective ways to make your peer support group more sustainable, but it can be time consuming. This page offers some advice on applying for funding.
Before you apply for funding
There are often some hoops to jump through to meet your funder’s requirements. You may have to do some reporting afterwards to explain how the money was spent.
Before you start applying for grants, take time to establish your group’s needs and aims, and identify the most relevant sources of funding. The clearer you are about these, the more likely you are to find relevant sources of funding, and be successful in getting it.
Working out if you're eligible
Once you've made a list of potential funders, you need to find out if you're eligible for their grants. Funders often have specific eligibility requirements. For example, they may only fund groups of a particular size, in a specific geographical area, or supporting certain issues – such as women, mental health, or young people.
Alternatively, they may offer funding for specific resources, such as equipment for activities. Application forms often come with guidance notes. Read through these carefully and consider whether your group meets the eligibility requirements.
It's also worth considering how you could make the group eligible. For example, if a constitution is a requirement, you could look into creating one. Often, once your group meets the eligibility requirements for one fund, you find that there are other, similar grants that your group is also eligible for.
Funders often provide accessible information about how to apply for their funding. They may offer events for applicants to find out more and to ask questions.
It's a good idea to take advantage of any opportunities like this. Or, you can contact the funder before you apply.
We suggest reading the whole application form before you begin. Read what the funder’s priorities are and what impact they'd like the money to have.
Be clear about what your group needs, what this will cost, and how the money would benefit the group. You can be creative with this. For example, if your group already pays costs such as venue hire through a subscription, you could apply for funding to ‘block book’ the venue for a year, freeing up income that the group can use in other ways.
It's also important to remember those extra hidden costs that don’t become obvious until they're needed, like translation or childcare costs.
It can be worth including some extra material with funding requests or applications to give the funders a ‘feel’ for your group in terms of who you are and what you do.
Even if this is not explicitly requested, it can help your application to stand out to funders. For example, you could include:
- Results of a survey that your members have filled in, as evidence that you are applying for what they need
- How the funding would help ensure that your group keeps running
- Evidence of how your group benefits its members
- Your aims and goals for the group
- A personal story or case study, in which a group member shares their experience of participating in the group
- A photograph of any creative work done by the group
- A letter of support, signed by group members
- Evidence of engagement with marginalised communities
Getting support for your application
One of the most common ways an application fails is not being written the way a funder needs. If you've never written an application before, see if you can:
- Get support from a group or organisation who has been successful
- Get someone to read it for you
- Get examples of previously successful applications.
Remember, the more support you can offer with your application, the better chance it will have.
An example funding application process
Alex runs a music-based peer support group. They meet weekly and everyone brings their own instruments. They play together, have refreshments, chat, and listen to music.
The group has been growing, with lots of new members, and not everyone who joins has their own instrument. Alex decides to have a chat with the rest of the group about getting some instruments so that people who do not have their own can fully participate in the group.
One of the group members suggests that she check the local authority (city council) website to see if they have any funding available. She finds a small Community Groups Fund which is open to applications. Alex downloads the application form and guidance notes and brings these to the next group meeting.
The group realise that the grant will only support infrastructure costs and not equipment. They discuss this together and decide to apply for funding for the existing cost of their venue hire, in order to free up money for the new instruments.
They complete the application form and include a photograph and case study of their group with the application. The group recognises the money will not fund enough instruments on its own, so Alex also writes a letter to the local second-hand music shop who donate some instruments to the group.
Reporting to funders
If your funding application is successful, you'll probably need to report to the funder afterwards about how the money was spent and how this benefitted the group. Usually, this just means filling in a short form, but it can be more.
Funders should let you know whether a report is needed when they send you an acceptance letter. They should tell you what information you'll need to keep and include (such as receipts or photographs).
If your application is not successful, try not to be disheartened! Ask for feedback from the funder so that you can learn from this experience and keep the information for when you're ready to start another application. Get the group together and review the experience.