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General sources of funding

General sources of funding

To find out more about sources of funding, you can draw on a number of national and local sources of information on grant providers, such as NCVO’s Funding Central and your local community foundation. The Prince’s Trust has a great list of organisations who make a variety of grants, as does the Getting Funding website. The Rural Services Network has a monthly digest of potential funding sources.

A whole range of grants are funded through the National Lottery, with the The National Lottery Community Fund especially relevant to a lot of community rail projects. A full list of National Lottery grants is also available.

Many grant-giving bodies are currently prioritising or exclusively giving to support organisations get through coronavirus. NCVO has helpful advice on contingency planning and dealing with financial implications and Locality also has a regularly updated list of funding sources available.

Community Rail Network works with a number of organisations who are able to offer free advice and guidance to our members. The Plunkett Foundation is available to support people setting up or running community businesses.

If you are aware of other funding streams available that are especially relevant to community rail, send us an email and we’ll feature it.

Government Grants

Government departments often offer grant funds. Some of these, such as the Department for Transport’s community rail funds, are provided via other organisations such as Community Rail Network, but if you have a project that may be of benefit beyond just the rail industry there are often other sources of funding.

Find out more here

Local Funds

Although local authority funding has reduced in recent years, they usually still hold a number of grant schemes. Many councils also have staff who can help advise you on where to find funds for local projects. If your community rail partnership is hosted by the council there may be restrictions on what you can bid for, but it should also be easier to access advice from other council departments. Many councils also have ward, division or area committee funding pots that local councillors can direct towards community projects they support.

Check on the council website to see if they offer help to organisations to find funding or to help you write grant applications. Some councils (see this example from Derbyshire) have webpages outlining schemes they operate or are aware of.

All parts of the country have organisations that support the third sector, such as members of the community foundations network or ones that are purely local. They can provide advice, support and training on finding funding as well as other aspects of running a not-for-profit organisation. In many cases they may ask you to join them as a member, but this is often low-cost, and has the benefit of connecting you to other useful local organisations.

Tips on grant funding

  • Before you start looking at grants, be clear what you need the funding for. Usually grants are provided to specific projects that can be delivered over a given timescale, with clear and measurable outcomes. Make sure you are clear about what success will look like as well as what the project will look like.
  • Try to have some project ideas ready for grant applications. The deadline for some grants can be imminent, so if you’ve already done some of the work you’ll be less likely to miss out.
  • Many grants are targeted at specific demographics. Are there ways you can tweak some of your projects so they meet the specific group that funding is available for without losing the spirit of what you’re trying to do?
  • Read the criteria for grants very carefully. Grant bids are often rejected immediately if the information provided does not expressly show how it matches the criteria. Similarly, make sure you follow the process they specify such as forms, timescales and evidence required.
  • Many grant-giving organisations offer advice in advance of any bid to talk through your proposal and this is tends to be worth taking up.
  • No grant application is guaranteed to succeed even if you meet all of the criteria. Many are massively over-subscribed, so don’t assume you will get the money until they’ve confirmed it.