Protected: Assessment Process

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Application

Application forms are available online.

Potential applicants are advised to contact the Foundation prior to completing to ensure eligibility for funding. Where applicants are unable to submit electronic forms, staff will help either by telephone conversation or face-to-face. Applications are submitted accompanied by the following documentation:

– Constitution or set of rules

– Accounts or recent bank statements

– Child Protection and/or Vulnerable People policies, as appropriate

– Copies of written estimates or catalogue pages, if asking or equipment or services (e.g. tutor costs)

– On receipt of the application form, a number of key checks are made by Foundation staff to further ensure eligibility and clarity. Further help is available, if needed, to enable the group to make their application as clear as possible.

Preparation for the Panel

Packs are usually prepared and available for panel members at least 7 days in advance of the panel meeting. Generally, these are forwarded electronically and normally contain the following information:

– Meeting agenda

– Minutes of last meeting

– List of all applications to be presented

– Copies of application form and appropriate additional information

– Copies of any visit reports

The Foundation operates a number of grant panels, some which are geographically designated and others associated with separate funds (e.g. Comic Relief, EoN, EDF). Here

Guidance for looking at applications

The following list of questions is not exhaustive and may not be relevant to all applications. It is intended to provide general guidance on key areas for you when considering applications.

– Is the group a genuine community group or voluntary organisation?

– How does the group address the funding priorities? Do they work with a particular target group?

– How are beneficiaries involved in the project? Do they have any decision-making role or influence? If the group wishes to work with a particular group of people, how does it aim to reach them?

– How do the group ensure that their activities are open to the community

– What is special or different about this project? Does it duplicate existing services? If so, is the duplication necessary?

– Does it complement local initiatives or will any grant displace other services or individuals?

– What links does the group have with other organisations?

– Is the group up-to-date with good practice?

– Will this request support the main activity of the group or increase existing levels of community activity?

– Is there an alternative or more appropriate funding source available?

– Does the project represent value for money? Is the number of beneficiaries commensurate with the level of funding applied for?

– Is the project realistic? What are its lasting benefits?

– Is the project sustainable without funding?

– Are there any particular issues with running a project of this type that the group have not considered?

– If a grant is awarded, what will happen to the project when the grant ends?

– Is the project dependent upon the group obtaining funding from elsewhere? If so, can the project go ahead without our funding?

– Have the group submitted all the necessary information? If not, has a reason been provided by the grants team?

Decisions

All decisions on grant applications are made at and by panels.  Responsibility for decisions is owned by each panel with delegated authority from the Board of Trustees. As a panel member, you discuss and share your conclusions, based on your initial study of the application,  with the whole panel so that consensus can be reached.

Exceptions:

Occasionally, a Chair’s decision or an Emergency Grant Procedure is required for timely decisions on small amounts. The Chair of the panel will be contacted to discuss the suitability of an emergency or Chair’s decision.

Each application is decided upon its own merits. Decisions are based on your collective knowledge and experience in the light of the fund’s specific purpose and targets.

This might include:

– Information provided by applicant in the report or application form

– Any additional submitted information requested by staff

– Statistical information provided by staff about where funds have been spent and the amount of funding available

– Members’ personal experience of particular issues or areas of expertise

– Local geographical knowledge

The SYCF staff team will always aim to present eligible applications that clearly demonstrate a strong impact. However, local knowledge and expertise of the panel may bring to light new information that was not previously apparent or could not have been deduced from the application. Whilst the ultimate aim of a panel is to either approve or reject an application, there is a range of decisions that might be made.

Approved

The application is approved for payment and no conditions apply.

Conditional approval

The panel may decide to offer a reduced or partial amount in which case the applicant will be contacted to ask if they wish to accept the offer.

The panel may require specific conditions to be met as part of their decision e.g specialist or third party input, revised policy changes.

Deferral

More information or an assessment visit is needed – in this case the panel should be specific about the questions that require answering.

Rejection

The community needs and/or impact are not adequately demonstrated or new information comes to light in the panel meeting that invalidates the application.

Due to the need to supply full feedback to applicants, the basis of any ‘Rejection’ decision is recorded clearly, using one of the following categories:

Duplication of Services
This is wholly dependent upon local knowledge – this decision would arise if the panel felt that they didn’t want to threaten the existence of one group by supporting a rival in the same catchment area.

Issues with the project

– No evidence that the project is based upon an established demand i.e. the applicant merely wishes to supply the services being offered

– Lack of confidence in the people running the project

– The project is beyond the capabilities of the group

– Special training is needed to use equipment

– The project has not been properly evaluated by the group and risks are present that they have not acknowledged

– There is no clear evidence that the group or project are sustainable

– Not Value for money

– No evidence that group have evaluated the obtained quotes, i.e. not necessarily opted for the cheapest but assessed the quality of service of product/service

– The cost of the project is disproportionate to number of beneficiaries

Not poverty or disadvantage

– Unlikely in our region due to the high indices of deprivation

– The group may not serve a community whose needs arise from a status of being disadvantaged

Low Priority

– Separate from ‘Approved in principle’

– Panel perceive that the group have either received or have access to significant amounts of funding

Not beneficial

Group or project not providing services generating tangible benefits

Ineligible

Unforeseen circumstances that panel may bring to light

In all cases of ‘Rejection’, the Foundation will aim to advise alternative forms of support which will not always be monetary.

 

Assessment Visits

Visits to projects are as a result of the need for further information as decided by Foundation staff or as a decision of the grants panel. Visits are normally allocated to an assessor based on particular skills, experience and availability. The group leaders will be notified that a named volunteer will be contacting them to arrange a visit.

If you are allocated a visit to discuss and/or see a project then you will receive the following:

e-mail containing a summary of key areas requiring further explanation

copy of application form and appropriate additional material

deadline for report to be returned to Foundation so that they are available at the next panel meeting.

It is recognised that sometimes it is not possible for you to make a visit and it is important that you let the appropriate Fund Manager know as soon as possible if this is so.

Carrying out a visit

The Foundation seeks to be as supportive as possible to applicants and this should always be remembered when visiting. The degree of scrutiny is related to the complexity of the application.

Before visiting:

Arrange a visit in a suitable, safe and appropriate location (e.g. community centre, café or meeting space)

Notify a family member, friend or the Foundation of the appointment and estimated return time to ensure that appropriate action can be taken in an emergency. NB: ensure that that person knows that you have returned from the visit.

When visiting:

– Ensure that you speak to the person identified on the application form as having responsibility

– Agree an agenda for the meeting so that discussion is organised

– Agree how long the visit is likely to last

– Agree who will be present ; it is always useful to meet more than one person, say from management committee or service users

– Ensure that you explain that the discussion is to assess the application and to provide further information to the panel who make the decision regards any funding

– Promote a relaxed and non-confrontational atmosphere

– Ask specific questions giving enough time for the applicant to clarify and add to the information you already have

– Thank the applicant for their time

– Explain that you will now prepare a report of the visit for the panel who make the decision

– If the visit is interrupted or derailed or, if you feel intimidated in any way then you may wish to arrange another visit time. In situations where you feel particularly uncomfortable then politely leave, telling the applicant that you will be in touch, and discuss any serious concerns with the Foundation.
Lone worker policy >

Visits take between 30 minutes to an hour which is normally enough time to gain a better understanding of the background of the organisation and project.

After the Panel

Following a ratified decision, the applicant is notified of that decision by the staff team.  Where necessary, further information is obtained.  Unsuccessful applicants are provided with reasons for rejection on this occasion. Payment is made and the end of grant monitoring form is also sent to the applicant.  This enables the group to plan and evaluate throughout the project ensuring that relevant information is ready at the end of the grant period.  The form records both quantitative and qualitative data to feedback regarding the whole application process to the Foundation. End of grant monitoring forms are also a vital part of the quality assessment process of the Foundation.