Including Volunteering in Funding Bids

Question: What aspects should be considered when writing a funding bid for a project that includes volunteers?

Answer: This is a timely question, as the Mayor’s Community Grants Programme should be opening for applications in April 2023. Many organisations have volunteers helping to deliver services, but fail to include all the necessary volunteer programme costs in fundraising applications. This can lead to difficulties in delivering the project, if the bid is successful.

It is crucial to include volunteer expenses in your budget, particularly travel expenses. If volunteer shifts are longer, you might reimburse or provide refreshments or lunch and should consider the cost of any equipment volunteers need, such as mobile phones or protective equipment. Now is a good time to review any expense caps to take into account the rising cost of living. If volunteers need training to carry out their roles, include the cost of external training or developing an in-house course in your budget. Training may be on safeguarding, mental health first aid, customer service or other topics relevant to your volunteer programme. Your volunteers may need DBS checks (depending on their role), so the administration fees for these need to be covered. You might also include costs of recruiting volunteers, such as printing leaflets or placing advertisements.

Involving volunteers successfully also requires paid staff time to recruit and manage them, so you should allow for this in your project staff budget. If it is a new project, build in some set-up time to recruit and train the volunteers before they are expected to start delivering services.

In your bid, emphasise the benefits of involving volunteers, such as knowledge of, and connections to the local community. Utilising volunteers can enable you to reach and help more people. Recruiting volunteers from the community or within your service user group can enable people to connect with others, learn new skills and gain confidence. It often helps them find routes to employment and can improve health and wellbeing.

To learn more about developing outcomes for your volunteer programme, and evaluating its impact, VCTH is hosting an online training session on ‘Measuring the Difference your Volunteer Programme Makes’ on Wednesday 26 April 2023. Book your place on this training session.