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Cornwall Museums Partnership

Getting to Grips with Grants: A Funders Perspective

Delegates from across the South West gathered for the first session of the much-anticipated Firm Foundations Programme to learn from expert speakers and share valuable information and advice about how best to approach capital projects.

Setting the scene for the day, and in fact the programme itself, was keynote speaker Kelly Spry Phare, Development Manager for the Heritage Lottery Fund in the South West.  Kelly gave an invaluable insight into how to secure HLF support, outlining the fundamental principles for developing HLF capital projects.  Although this may sound obvious, many organisations fail to consider the must haves, the must do’s and the what if’s. Some of the main topics Kelly discussed in her talk were:

Setting the scene

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded £7.6 billion to over 40,000 projects since 1994, and will continue to award £300m a year in new grants through to 2019, however the pot is shrinking in real terms and as a result competition is increasing.

What are your outcomes?

HLF is looking for projects that focus on heritage, people and communities, and are actively engaging with people.

Accessing the right grant

A range of HLF grants are available, from £3,000 up to £5 million.  Most relevant for capital projects are Our Heritage; Resilient Heritage, Heritage Grants and Heritage Enterprise: each has a different application process with different timescales attached.  Regardless of which programme you choose, you must focus on the outcomes of the project – for people, heritage and communities.

What is assessed on making an application?

Before you even begin writing your application, think honestly about the following:

  • What is the heritage focus of the project?
  • What is the need or opportunity that the project is responding to?
  • Why does the project need to go ahead now and why is Lottery funding required?
  • What outcomes will the project achieve?
  • Does the project offer value for money?
  • Is the project well planned?
  • Is the project financially realistic?
  • Will the project outcomes be sustained?

Your answers will inform – and strengthen- your application.


How long will it take?

The application process itself will take longer than you think, and its important that you plan for this.  By looking at the diagram below, you can get an insight into how long a typical Heritage Grant application can take.


Partnership funding

HLF will ask you to make a contribution towards your project. This is described as ‘partnership funding’ and it can be made up of cash, volunteer time, non-cash contributions, or a combination of all of these. More information on this is available on the HLF website.

Getting help from HLF

If you are interested in HLF funding, the first step is to have a look here – ‘looking for funding’.

Then take a look at the guidance notes as this sets out what HLF fund, the outcomes HLF is looking for and advice about how to make an application – it’s really surprising how many people haven’t done this before they make an application.

If you think your project is a fit, then seek early advice from HLF.  Submit a project enquiry form and start the conversation – you don’t have to have everything fully formed!

For more information on how the Firm Foundations Project can help your capital project, please contact the Cornwall Museums Partnership Office on 01209 500750.

Our Funders