If you have a great idea for a project in your community, why not apply for a community grant? Many organisations offer money, and you won't need to pay it back.
What's a community project?
It's an initiative in your local area which directly benefits others. It usually involves giving up your time for free. For example, 18-year-old Ceri Staplin is involved in a project called Holiday Hangout, travelling to villages around Dorchester and running free activities for kids who are bored when school is closed. The project has raised in excess of £10,000 in grants over three years thanks to all the volunteers helping out with the application process.
"The first few applications were hard work because they're pretty serious and you don't want to mess it up, but it gets easier," says Ceri. "You basically need to provide the same information every time, so we get everyone on our youth board together and take it in turns to fill out the different sections."
Skills and benefits
As well as the benefits to your community, you will pick up key skills from taking on so much responsibility. Being able to demonstrate your new-found abilities on your CV will also work in your favour when applying for jobs.
For Georgina Hurcomb, 25, being involved in a film project for elderly people in Bournemouth has been educational. "The project's taught me a lot about budgeting and working with other young people. It's fun and I've made a lot of new friends," she says. Called Bridging the Gap, the project was set up using money from V Cashpoint and has made a big difference to the lives of the people involved. "We managed to change perceptions of what young people think about elderly people, and vice versa."
"I'd tell other people who want to get involved to go for it," adds Ceri. "Before I didn't have a clue about planning and running events, but now I feel very confident in my leadership skills. I'll be running a youth musical festival in the summer. Job applications are also now easier because I've filled in so many forms."
The donor can be a charity, a business, a local council or the Government. In each case, you'll need to apply for the money formally, usually by filling in an application form followed by an interview.
How much is a community grant?
Community grants can range from £25 to several thousand pounds. You tend to receive the money in different stages. You'll need to tell the donor how you plan to spend the money beforehand, and show receipts for all your expenses afterwards.
How do I apply for a grant?
Each fund has a slightly different system, but it's common to send off an application form and, if chosen, have an interview to explain your plans in more detail. The process will be more difficult if you're applying for larger sums of money.
You'll usually need to state:
- Where the project is taking place (funds can only cover initiatives in certain areas)
- How many people are involved (some schemes set a minimum amount of volunteers that have to be involved)
- How the project will benefit your chosen community
- How long you expect the project to run for
Managing the money
Once your project has been approved, it will be down to you to manage and spend the money. You'll have to present a detailed budget during the application phase and the donors will help you during the running of the project.