This page offers some tips and advice around fundraising and sustainability if you are thinking of setting up a singing for health group or initiative.
A great advantage to this work is that it can align with many agendas; music, arts & culture, physical and mental health & wellbeing, social cohesion, skills development and employability. This means that there are many sources of funding available to you to establish and maintain a group or initiative.
It is useful to take advantage of as many income streams as you can, including participant contribution, public and private funding. Try not to rely on one source, but seek a range of options for fundraising.
There are many options under which to begin your enterprise. Consider the best legal set up that is best for you. If you work freelance you may already be registered as a sole trader, but you could consider setting up a group as a Community Group or Constituted Association, or Community Interest Company as a first step. Useful links:
Funders are more likely to fund projects that involve more than one body/organisation and attracting matched funding/in kind support. This could be a local healthcare provider, arts venue, community organisation, charity or even business sponsor. In kind support could mean reduced or free venue hire, access to booking systems, admin and marketing, or training.
Some funding streams are only available to not-for-profit organisations such as CICs, CIOs and charities. Going into partnership with a CIC, CIO or charity can be an advantage if they allow you to submit funding applications through their organisation. However, if you go down this route, please note;
Have a clear partnership agreement in place so there are no surprises (credit, ownership/copyright, roles and responsibilities)
The organisation will want to draw down a certain amount of admin/management/core costs – this should not exceed 20% of the grant applied for (this may vary according to funders)
PILOTS & TASTERS
Taster events and pilot schemes are a really useful way of testing the water for your activity, both in terms of raising awareness for potential participants and collecting evidence to support your funding applications. There are various funds that are designed to support tasters and pilots that offer small sums for you to try out your ideas. Remember to gather as much evidence as you can from your taster events so that you can use this to build a case for future funding, support and marketing.
Applying for funding
EVIDENCE OF NEED
All funders will require you to tell the story of why your activity needs to happen. Demonstrate clear evidence of need and how your activity is going to meet that need (use statistics, consultation with stakeholders including participants, family members, health care professionals). There are some helpful websites where you can find this data including:
Define the values, ethos and aims of your initiative, group or activity. Keep these at the heart of your application but be prepared to present them creatively and flexibly. Focus your application towards the targets set by the funders.
Be clear about what you are setting out to achieve, and how you will measure this. Funders like a combination of qualitative and quantitative evidence. Show how you plan to use the most useful data to show that you are meeting your intended outcomes (changes/effects) – see links below to several guides on using outcomes:
Show how you will promote your work through as many avenues as you can, from managing initial recruitment to ongoing PR. Use consistent messaging – funders like a good track record and clarity of message. Case studies are useful for this - use your evaluation data to create case studies and promotional materials. Volunteers and advocates can be effective spokespeople for the work – often their voices are more compelling that yours. https://vinspired.com/and local Volunteering Centres/Job Centres may have resources http://www.volunteernow.co.uk/supporting-organisations/funding.
PLANNING & BUDGETING
Funders like to see a proven track record in terms of delivering targets and managing finances/reporting/audited accounts (some funding pots are not available for organisations less than a year old). If you don’t have this experience, then enlist the help of someone who does – they can be named in the application even if just in an advisory capacity. Make sure you consider the full cost of your activity, taking into account any overheads, planning time, expenses, costs associated with performances etc. Many of these things are overlooked and can eat into your time, especially as a freelancer. You should be aiming for ‘full cost recovery’ - be realistic and show the true costs.
This doesn’t just mean financially sustaining the activity exactly as it is. When funders ask about sustainability, they want to know about the potential wider impact and legacy. How will the group be funded going forwards? Is there training that means more people can deliver the activity? Do people in the group pass on their knowledge to others? What are the ripple effects?
How to make yourself more ‘fundable’
The funding environment is tough and extremely competitive. There are many more demands on organisations and service deliverers to be more accountable for their work. You may want to consider issuing a statement, or having an ID badge/lanyard which provides evidence of the following;
DBS check & update service - To find out more follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service
PAT Testing for any electrical equipment
First Aid training
Safeguarding policy (working with adults at risk)
A statement/policy about your commitment to equality and diversity
Adherence to a relevant Quality Standard or Framework (e.g., the Youth Music ‘Do, Review, Improve’ framework)
It’s worth putting in the time to establish your reputation and position by joining as many networking organisations as you can, both locally and nationally. You can do this by:
Joining your local Voluntary Sector Forum/Organisation
Seeking out relevant Facebook groups in your area which might cut across arts, music, health, community sectors
Seeking out music/arts organisations which may or may not have a health strand to their work
Connecting with your local Music Hub/s and other choirs/community singing groups
COMMITMENT TO CPD
Demonstrate this through accessing as much training and CPD as you can (some may be free via the Voluntary Sector Forum or equivalent or though the local authority). The more you can work in partnership and maximise resources the better – can your work help another organisation reach its targets…? If so, they might be willing to invest or at least provide in kind support. If you are planning to deliver your activity digitally, you might like to check out this guide produced by the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance.
Where to find out more
NATIONAL FUNDERS & FUNDING DIRECTORIES
LOCAL FUNDING SOURCES
Your local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
Local Councillors/Town Council/Rotary Clubs
Local Authority Community Funds
Chamber of Commerce
Care allowances from care homes
University/colleges community funds