Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Research File: Finding funding

Any project needs funding and companies and organisations, never more so when starting out with something new. WildeHeads is totally reliant on my own meagre means and is currently not seeking funding of any kind at this point. My aim at this point is to secure work to develop revenue, but I don't rule out the suggestions I making below at some point. So what alternatives are there for organisations with no capital at all?

Grant/Award funding maybe everyone’s first choice, but it isn’t the only option particularly when it comes to starting up a business. If the economic crisis has taught us nothing else, it has highlighted the pitfall of becoming too dependent on them. So loans, borrowing from friends and family, finding an investor, securing a sponsor (or many) and fundraising on the cheap are also options.

Be aware though, that you should only seek funding from sources that fit what it is you’re doing. As it says in the excellent little book of tips from SEEE 80 Enterprise Essentials “Be a train, not an octopus. The octopus organisation drifts with the funding tide, extending a tentacle in whatever direction will attract a grant... A train like organisation knows where it’s going.” (Go to if you want a copy). In effect what this means is that it is wiser to stick to your ethos, aims and direction and not be washed all over the place as that will only serve to confuse everyone, run the risk of stretching your resources to breaking point and push you into areas that are not your area of expertise. It could all too easily spell disaster instead of providing you with the lifeline you seek.

What follows (in no particular order) are ten ideas for creative and community ventures to get you started. As ever, I try to outline the basic principles and do not in any way attempt to cover all possibilities. I simply don't have the time! I try and retweet as many as I happen across, but as I say I am only one person... and am getting busier by the day!

Perhaps too, in a recession we should adopt the attitude of prioritising our needs and avoid being greedy so that everyone can benefit, although in my opinion some enterprises merit as much support as they can get in these challenging times. Those of you who have been following on Twitter will know that I believe money only works when it is moving. Therefore it follows that if we all act as a team to get it moving again then we will actively be doing something proactive and positive about getting out of the recession sooner rather than later. Additionally it can be annoying if a supplier we are used to and get superb deals from goes under, can't it?

Please always remember, I wish to remain impartial and therefore do not and will not endorse or favour any one source over another. You are responsible for your choices and decisions, not I. When I have encountered a good source of support, trust me, I will say so. Yes, due to my time at Trestle and SEEE (among others) I have a soft spot for them, but while I wish them all the best I do know there are other companies and organisations out there who are equally as good. Enough waffle though...

Here's just a taster of some of the links that are out there...

Ten Funding Links
(12 actually if you look closely!)
  1. Big Lottery Fund and Awards for All - the distinction being the size, nature and criteria for the grants/awards
  2. - a good guide on how to find a corporate sponsor
  3. UK Sponsorship -  - a free database to help link you to sponsors. Many sponsors are looking for specific projects to tie in with their own ethos... you might fit their criteria
  4. Find Sponsorship - - as above
  5. Arts Council England - and - for all things creative
  6. UK Business Funding Centre -
  7. The Directory of Social Change - specifically for the voluntary sector
  8. Company Partners - - if you are looking for an investor
  9. Angel Investment Network - - if you are looking for an investor
  10. The Social Investment Business Ltd - - specialising in social enterprises and projects

Criteria is key but so too are Terms and Conditions. For example a sponsor may only require you to place their logo on your marketing material and if their business ethic and activities tie in with yours that’s great. What if they are not a match though? A sponsor or investor may require more than that in exchange which could involve tying you up in all manner of knots - it could end up getting in the way of what you really want to do. The same can also apply for grants/awards and loans.

Research them thoroughly and ask them directly for clear answers. Only say "yes", when you are absolutely comfortable with the Terms and Conditions. Saying “no” to the wrong type of deal will at worst mean putting your plans on hold but will mean you retain control and keep you free for the deal that is the perfect match. Avoid signing up for even a loan without checking the Terms and Conditions thoroughly first. Be careful and read the small print! 

Further sources
The above is by no means the limit of the list of funding that’s still out there. Remember that it is up to you to ensure you meet the deadlines and that you meet the criteria set in all cases.

Simply by tapping in some key words and phrases into Google you can find many more sites (e.g.  “find a sponsor” to get more results). If you are unsuccessful with one source, don’t give up, go and look for another. The more specific you are with your searches, the more appropriate the results should be (e.g. "find a sponsor UK").

You can also make use of Linked In discussion groups, ask for help on Facebook and as I've already suggested post a Tweet asking for suggestions. If you don’t ask, how can you expect a favourable answer?

Please feel free to let others know how you get on by posting a comment here or just add more links particularly if you are unsuccessful as it may be of use to others. By sharing such things we can all help each other through these difficult times. Comments are moderated so I can weed out any abusive or slanderous content and their perpetrators so they don't hit the airwaves!

Good luck out there!

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