If you are involved with a community project that requires cash, Dorset Council could offer you up to £6,000 if your initiative addresses their areas of need.
Few Shaftesbury area causes have applied to the Dorset Community Impact Fund in previous years. That’s something that Grants Monitoring Officer Ian Wells hopes to address. “Shaftesbury is not an area of the county where we have had a huge number of applications,” Ian said. “There could be a number of reasons for that. We want to get more applications in from people in the north of the council area.”
Ian says that Dorset Council has set out the goals it hopes to achieve with its grants. “We are looking to support projects that target those with the greatest need, and which meet the Council’s ambition of reducing demand for its services by connecting people to the right help, support and early intervention,” explained Ian. “We’re trying to make sure that individuals or communities are safe, healthy, independent and prosperous. Applicants don’t need to meet all of those priorities, but they do need to meet at least one of them. It is basically to improve residents’ lives at the very local, community level,” he added.
Ian says that many organisations that cater for a range of age groups could all be eligible. “It could be to set up a gardening club on an allotment. It could be a group helping those with dementia or it could be aimed at families getting people active and out and about in the countryside,” he offered.
Previous grant recipients have generally been operating at the time of their application but that doesn’t mean that groups planning new projects are excluded. “If we have a local group that has a particular idea and meets our priorities, there is no reason why they cannot apply,” said Ian, but he added that some form of constitution and a bank account, in case the group was successful in their application, would be useful.
There is no average amount of grant award but there are two potential pots of cash on offer. “There is a micro grant for sums up to and including £1,000. The other grants fund is what we call the main grant and that is for awards up to and including £6,000. We’re trying to encourage groups to think about being self-financing, so we request that every applicant provides 20% funding for us to consider that application,” said Ian.
And he says the application process isn’t particularly onerous. “There is a degree of paperwork. If a local group is working with young people, we would need to see some evidence around safeguarding and protecting. In most cases, we would also like to see an equality policy that shows that the organisation is equitable and open to all people.”
The closing date for applications for this grant round is midnight on Sunday the 29thNovember. A second opportunity for applicants looking for funding of up to £1,000 will open on Monday the 2ndDecember. If you need that smaller amount of funding, you have until 9thFebruary to get your application in.
Ian says that an awards panel assesses bids for the larger fund, once applicants are shortlisted. “They are individuals with a lot of experience across the voluntary and community sector. We will then notify people to let them know whether they’re going to be invited to the assessment day, on the 6th January,” he said.
If you want to have a conversation about your eligibility or ask about the process, Ian says you can call 01305 22 4307 or email Ian.Wells@DorsetCouncil.gov.uk.