Funding Central: growing to 50,000

Olof Williamson was a Senior Consultant at NCVO, looking at the latest thinking on funding, finance and public services. Olof has left NCVO and his posts have been retained for here for reference.

Just about everyone working in the voluntary sector has to have money on their mind. Whether it is bringing it in, looking after it or finding the best way to spend it, funding is an everyday concern.

Well for 50,000 of you it is a little bit less of a worry thanks to Funding Central.

Growing up quickly

We reached a milestone of Funding Central registered users last week: 50,000 people who are benefiting from weekly funding updates, tailored information on grants, contracts and finance opportunities, all from an easy to use website specially designed for the voluntary sector.

We have also reached a milestone of another kind – agreeing an extension of Funding Central’s financial support from the Office for Civil Society, part of the Government’s Cabinet Office. This means that free access to quality funding information for the voluntary sector will continue until at least 2014.

Learning from the sector

And gaining this extra support from Cabinet Office also gives us the opportunity to improve and develop the service to help even more people get the most from Funding Central.

I’ve been responsible for project managing the site since 2011, and it has been a really fascinating experience. I’ve learned about the importance of making an online service easy to use, how accuracy and timeliness are all important, and which funding opportunities capture people’s attention and which do not.

Above all it’s been really great to connect with all the voluntary organisations and funders who use the site, and to see what motivates them. There’s a huge passion for making a difference on both sides, and the more accurately we can match up the right opportunity to the right delivery organisation, the better.

For example, earlier this year Karyn Johnston of Age Concern Cheshire East told us that Funding Central helped them to find £150,000 for their project helping disadvantaged older men support each other. Karyn said, “I’ve only been a fundraiser since 2008 and Funding Central has been my trainer and guide in that time”.

But even for those who haven’t yet been successful in getting funding via Funding Central’s database, it is saving them time and money as our impact infographic showed. More and more organisations are finding that they have to work harder and harder to bring in new income, so any help they can get is welcome.

What next?

So we will work closely with the Office for Civil Society and our technology and research partners Idox Information Solutions to keep improving Funding Central.

In the autumn we will be developing online training for people looking for funding, and we will be continually widening the number and range of opportunities available to our users. We will also continue to plug Funding Central into our wider work, researching the changing funding environment, and linking our services to the sector’s changing needs.

Thank you!

Finally I want to say thanks to all you 50,000 Funding Central enthusiasts for your continuing support and how you spread the word and help the whole voluntary sector to benefit from the latest funding information.

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