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Wee Grants for Wee Groups: Three months in

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

We are now three months into our Wee Grants for Wee Groups pilot and we're thrilled to say that the response so far has been great!

Over £114,000 has been awarded to 71 organisations across Scotland, with awards ranging from £500 to £2,000 for anything from data literacy workshops for young people experiencing disadvantage (the Datakirk) to a wheelchair-adaptive bike (Shetland Sport for All). The groups may be wee, but the impact has the potential to be huge, and we've really enjoyed seeing the variation in applications from the length and breadth of the country.

I'm pleased to say the pilot will continue over the coming months. We expect it will run until December. Further details will follow – please keep an eye on our website for these.

In the meantime, to help groups thinking of applying for a Wee Grant, I wanted to take this opportunity to look at some of the most common reasons organisations have not been successful with their applications. While the success rate for our regular funding programmes sits at over 70%, it has not been surprising to see this drop for Wee Grants, especially as we open up to smaller groups, many of which rarely apply for funding. I've listed the three most common reasons below:

No fit with funding strands
The most common reason for an unsuccesful application so far has been because the project or work did not fit with the Trust’s funding strands. If you’re thinking about applying for a Wee Grant, read up on our funding strands here, to see if your work might fit. We’ve noticed that sports groups and clubs in particular have been unsuccessful for this reason. Many have struggled to highlight how their work is tackling disadvantage and inequality, and targeted specifically at people experiencing these. In response to this, we produced Sporting organisation? What we won’t fund - and what we might!, a blog post which attempts to bring to life our funding priorities through offering specific examples.

Financial need
When assessing Wee Grants applications, we look at applicant groups’ finances to see whether they need funding from the Trust or whether they could potentially fund the project or work themselves. There are few points we consider, however, in general, we look to see if an organisation holds funds of close to or more than a year’s worth of running costs in the bank, which are not restricted for other projects. If this is the case for your organisation, we are unlikely to award you a Wee Grant. We prioritise funding for those groups who aren’t in as strong a position financially.

We are also seeing an increasing number of organisations whose constitutions don't quite meet our requirements. This is most commonly caused by a closed membership clause, which states that the management committee has the right to refuse membership at its discretion. Whilst we appreciate that it should be within the power of your management committee to manage membership of your organisation, we would want to see that membership could not be refused without good reason. This is because we want the services or activities our funding supports to be open to any individual in the community your group is serving.  We would advise potential applicants to take a look at our What do we look for in a constitution? document before applying. 

If you are interested in applying for a Wee Grant, you'll find all the information you need here. In the meantime, you can also check out our more recent awards here.