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SAPCA update: Delivering a successful project - Part 2

This year, Sports Management is featuring a series of quarterly articles in which experts from SAPCA outline the steps you need to take to ensure a successful facility project. In this second part of the series, we speak to funding specialist Karen Woolland

Published in Sports Management 2019 issue 2
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Many projects can benefit from producing a funding feasibility study before applying / © shutterstock/jacob lund
Many projects can benefit from producing a funding feasibility study before applying/ © shutterstock/jacob lund

S ecuring funding is a critical aspect of any facility project. It can also be one of the most challenging. The good news is that grants and other means of funding may be available from a number of potential sources – depending on the type of project. The bad news is that obtaining them can be an arduous process.

GETTING STARTED
Karen Woolland, SAPCA member and director at funding specialist WCTD, says that the process of finding funding sources should begin as soon as the facility project’s exact details have been confirmed by agreement with key stakeholders – and preferably when planning permission has been sought.

“An ideal time to start looking is when a fully compliant design – ie, based on Sport England guidelines or national governing body guidelines – has been created,” she says. “Otherwise funding from these sources would not be available.

“Many projects at this stage would benefit from producing a funding feasibility report which reviews the plans for funding compliance and highlights any issues that need to be looked at, prior to making any applications. It also provides information on which funders to approach and the likely amounts that could be applied for.”

Woolland adds that the timing of a funding application can be crucial to its success.

“Some funders ask for expressions of interest at key times, some have closing dates, others are open all year,” Woolland says. “A lot of funders now have a two-stage process that allows applicants to make a short application in order to provide basic information about their project, mainly focusing on outcomes – and then funders will advise on their initial thoughts.

“This change in approach over the last few years has been welcomed, especially by volunteer-led projects, as less time and effort – and usually lower costs in professional fees regarding designs and surveyor estimates – is required.”

GETTING IT RIGHT
For all projects, regardless of size and the amount of funding needed, Woolland advocates a targeted, focused approach to ensure the application fits the bill – not least because the competition for funding is intense.

“There are many well-known funding options that most projects approach,” she says. “The key is to ensure that the project meets the criteria for the fund and is eligible for it,” she says. “Lots of funders are oversubscribed, with funding pots being reduced, so it’s a very competitive process.

“Each project needs to be approached in a different way. Many projects take a scattergun approach, firing off standard information in lots of applications.

“There’s such a demand for the pots of money these days that it’s vital, that your project meets the funding criteria. Otherwise it’s a waste of everyone’s efforts.”

PRIVATE INVESTIGATIONS
As competition for Sport England and other public funding intensifies, it’s important to remember that not all funding comes from public sources.

“A lot of projects now are reliant on taking on a loan to ensure the project goes ahead,” Woolland says. “This is where the business plan and cashflow forecast are really important.

GETTING A LOAN
“Some NGBs – such as The Lawn Tennis Association and Bowls England – offer interest free loans. Other NGBs, including The Rugby Football Foundation and England and Wales Cricket Board, offer a mix of grant and loan investment. There are also opportunities to seek private funding through local sponsors or commercial organisations in project areas or through local authorities or building societies and banks.”

TOP TIPS
Karen Woolland shares her top tips for securing funding

1. Don’t rush an application. Always take time to compile the answers and information, work as a project group to review submissions together.

2. Ask the question. If you are not sure about making an application it’s a good idea to give the funder a call, explain what you are trying to achieve and see if they feel it meets their funding objectives. It’s an ideal way to know whether your submission would be considered or not.

3. Fundraising for sports projects is a tough task and has been made harder recently as budgets are cut and priorities change. It’s important to work as a team and to not give up. Invariably facility projects take a lot longer to come to fruition than people think, but if it’s the right project it will get support.

SAPCA member

For more information on SAPCA, its Technical Programme or safety at sports facilities in general, contact us at: [email protected] or 024 7641 6316 www.sapca.org.uk

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