Funding Accelerator - A Retrospective

Putting the FUN into Funding

Bidding for project funding can seem a lot of hard work (and it is) however there is no reason you can’t have some fun while you’re doing it.

The HEIF funded Funding Accelerator program aimed to make creating ideas and developing them into funding bids an enjoyable process that brought together people from various organisations and different backgrounds in order to collaborate on co-design projects to benefit the health and wealth of the community in and around Blackburn with Darwen.

The Numbers

6 months

8 workshops

46 attendees

15 bids currently being developed

Over £3 million of new funding applied for

Considering our initial goal was at least 6 bids being developed and submitted for funding, 15 isn’t too shabby a number.

Working in Workshops

Often getting people together in one place at one time can be a daunting task in itself, however we made sure that people saw and understood the benefits of what we were doing. That by bringing people together to collaborate their projects would be stronger and their likelihood of being funded greater. Many grant-making institutions are now looking at teams rather than sole project developers so we created an ideal situation to facilitate that.

People need to want to collaborate and we were fortunate to have that type of ethos from the organisations who attended our workshops. Of course, trust is a factor, however as Blackburn is such a tight-knit community in some ways, many people already knew each other even if they hadn’t worked together before.

Where creating a ‘bloom’ of projects can fall down is at the point of time and commitment – many people from the public and third sectors can struggle to find time to even think up another wafer-thin project amidst the day to day work hours they already put in. However, by creating new projects and receiving more funding, organisations can do such good work in their communities. Our workshops gave them the time and space to do so (and included cake). We aimed to make the workshops productive – because nobody has time to waste nowadays – yet we wanted to make sure that there was excitement and anticipation for those attending, and fun activities which helped ideas to flow.

As they were all at the workshops because they were invested in improving life for their communities we found the group dynamics to be very positive, everyone wanted to do good, take ownership of their idea and run with it, or at least a fast walk.

All in all the workshops worked. They were the right people in the right place, at the right time to create that connection and spark ideas which grew into a veritable garden of projects.

Satisfying Successes

One of the most satisfying things about these bids is their diversity, the creative collaborations that became innovative ideas, that then grew into bids beneficial for the people of Blackburn with Darwen. Through connection and commitment these people generated a stream of ideas, the growth of partnerships led to the expansion and development of those ideas, which moved everyone and everything forward as their confidence and knowledge grew.

It was also rewarding to see how this group of people came together to share their expertise for the greater good. They became a team of bid writers; they may have been working on different projects, but they were always a team.

Watching everyone working hard at the two-day retreat (pictured above) showed us just how dedicated these bid writers were to their projects and their communities.

Forward to the Future

Our bid writers are currently being supported through the HEIF Funding until the end of July 2018. They have all reached that tipping point where they have put in so much of their time and effort that to stop now would be foolish. Due to the nature of funding, deadlines for submission rarely coincided with the lifetime of this short project. However, it is hoped that the support the bid writers have received so far will stand them in good stead to get them to completion and submission. All their projects are well thought out and deserve to be fully funded.