Top tips on applying for Community Emergency Funding

21 May 20

No fewer than 29 sailing clubs and organisations – 55% of those that have applied - have been awarded Sport England Community Emergency Fund grants since it was launched in April.

Part of a £195m package to help community sport and physical activity organisations experiencing short-term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to COVID-19, the fund is temporarily paused to new applications. But the message is clear - prepare your application now so you’re ready the day it re-opens.

Plymouth Youth Sailing is one successful OnBoard club. PYS Founder and Commodore, Adrian Kemp, has some sound advice for clubs thinking about applying.

“They say ‘He who hesitates is lost’. We had our application in two days after the fund opened. We had heard it was coming so had already been thinking about and calculating the costs around what we would need. We knew it would be popular so wanted to get ahead. On 1 May we received a letter confirming our award.”

In total £131,816 has been allocated to sailing clubs and organisations, at an average of £4,500 each. PYS will be receiving £7,000 to help cover the costs of facilities, insurance and professional fees during this period.

Alistair Dickson, RYA Director of Sport Development, said: “The funding could be extremely useful for clubs who have ongoing financial obligations they are struggling to meet. Organisations who work with underrepresented or disadvantaged groups in their community are also likely to be looked upon particularly favourably.”

So what can you do to give your Community Emergency Fund application the best chance of success? Adrian, an experienced funding applicant, gives us his top tips…

Do the maths

Although PYS keep their own budget and expenditure records, Adrian found the RYA’s Financial Planning Toolkit extremely helpful in filtering out what costs were operational and identifying the big numbers.

“Immediately it stood out that facilities were our biggest cost in the six-month period Sport England were asking for. 80% of our income is typically generated during those six months too so we could show how hard the crisis would bite.

“The Toolkit also prompted me on other things. For example I’d have forgotten to include that we have had the auditors in this quarter if the spreadsheet hadn’t mentioned ‘Professional fees.’

“Read the guidance, read the guidance then read the guidance again!”

Adrian highlighted that a key factor in this particular fund is applicants must have exhausted all other Government sources before applying. This helped PYS filter out what they could and should target their application towards.

“We had furloughed staff, but even though we were topping up the 20%, it meant we couldn’t include anything related to staff costs in our funding bid.”

PYS also asked a ‘critical friend’ to review their application before submitting it to ensure they hadn’t missed anything in the guidance that might affect their bid.

Be realistic

Sport England clearly state themselves “Given the enormity of the current crisis, we're likely to get more applications than we can fund so we’ll direct funds to where they’re most needed.” That guided PYS thinking on how much they should apply for.

“Once we had done all the number crunching, and taken off the things we weren’t eligible for, it came to over £10,000. But there was no point pitching it at the top end as we knew we wouldn’t get that. We brought it down to £8,660 and were awarded £7,000, so still not the full amount but a very welcome sum to cover core costs.”

Know your audience

In this application you have to clearly state your target audience. For PYS that was easy; they work with young people from the top 30% depravation wards in inner city Plymouth, who would not reasonably expect to have access to sailing opportunities.

However, if, for example, you’re a club that runs OnBoard but not as core activity, yet you choose to tailor your application towards grassroots youth sailing, your application might not transmit the energy and passion needed to make it stand out.

You don’t have to provide evidence of impact but you do need to be convincing that any funds you are granted will make a genuine difference to your club being able to continue to support the audience you’ve stated.

Prepare for the process

This fund largely follows the standard Sport England application format. The only differences are delivery plans are required to a less in-depth level and electronic signatures are accepted. Bank statements are required too, so an application from club or organisations holding big reserves might not be viewed so favourably.

Still want more advice?

Check out this guide with advice and guidance for clubs planning to apply.


Where else can we get support?

There are a few other funding options open for clubs and centres.

Sport England are working with Crowdfunder to provide another £1m support for sports clubs and community activity groups affected by coronavirus. Full details here - £1 million crowdfunding support for clubs and organisations

The Government has issued Guidance for the Local Authority Discretionary Fund following its announcement of this further support package on 1 May. Full details here - Detailed guidance confirmed for the Local Authority Discretionary Fund