How to get the most out of GrantTracker during COVID-19 and beyond

14 May 2020 Lynn Kennedy    Last updated: 18 May 2020

Probably the best funding database in the world....

We've been offering a month's free GrantTracker to everyone who needs it during these difficult times (i.e. all of us!)  This article explains how both ongoing and new subscribers can wring the most value out of GrantTracker.

NB If you haven’t yet joined over 200 organisations taking advantage of the opportunity to get GrantTracker free for a month, just click here, choose the £40 / month option and use the discount code INITTOGETHER20  below before 2nd June.  We want to help!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

To help you maximise the benefits of GrantTracker, here are the answers to some FAQs

Q1)  How do I start using GrantTracker?

  • The best starting point is to watch the webinar on using GrantTracker here.  It's a really good use of 12 minutes to help you get to grips with GrantTracker more quickly.
  • We recommend spending an hour or two at a time, searching for potential funders for both your work as a whole and for specific projects.  Then use the "MyTracker" function to track any potential funders.  You can then come back to them and narrow them down as your time allows 
  • Once you have been through all the potential funders, then just keep any eye on your inbox on Fridays around 11am.  An automatic email will provide you with all schemes that have been added or updated on GrantTracker for the week.  You can just scan this quickly to ensure you don't miss any new schemes that could provide potential funding. 
  • Keep an eye out as well for the "dates" update emails.  These emails ensure you don't miss any changes to closing dates for schemes to which you may be applying. 

Q2)  How do I find COVID-19 funding?

All COVID-19 funds can now be quickly located on GrantTracker in one of 3 ways:

  1.  Click into the “FILTERED SEARCH”, then click on “Topics” and find the Topic, “Coronavirus/COVID-19”
  2. Click straight into the, "For COVID-19 related funding opportunities please click here" section
  3. Sort the *(star) rating by clicking on the “Rank” button.  All COVID-19 funding schemes have been automatically ranked as 5* .  

Q3)  Are all 850 "Open or will open again" schemes updated in relation to COVID-19?

GrantTracker updating is carried out on a daily basis.  Updating is prioritised in the following way:  

  • We aim to add ALL NEW schemes (whether related to COVID-19 or not), immediately after their launch
  • All 1400 schemes (850 currently "Open or will open again") are updated at least once a year. 
  • Around 500 key schemes are updated much more regularly, i.e. monthly, quarterly or twice-yearly. 
  • All COVID-19 schemes are reviewed every other day.
  • Despite our income suffering the same severe downturn as everyone else, we are currently using additional internal and external resources to ensure GrantTracker remains as up to date as normal during COVID-19.  However, we don’t have the resources to update all 850 "Open or will open again" schemes almost simultaneously with regard to COVID-19.  Please bear with us as we work through all the funding schemes. 

Q4)     Why are some schemes listed as "Open or will open again" when they are currently closed to applications on the funder's website?

We always recommend that organisations start their search for potential funding for projects and services at least a year in advance.  We therefore keep all schemes which we know will open again within the next 12 months within our "Open or will open again" category.  This allows them to remain visible to all GrantTracker users.  It also allows users to use the "MyTracker" and "MyNotes" feature to keep them under ongoing review.  

Q5)      My searches bring up too many possibilities.  How can I limit them?

We deliberately don't overly limit the searches for you.  It's a balancing act.  Too broad and the list looks daunting.  Too narrow and you miss out on potential funding sources. A broader search may also spark ideas for projects which you don't currently run, but which might work well for your users AND fully fit a funder's criteria.  The best way to sort is using the sort categories.  The most useful way to sort is through the sub categories within areas of work, the amount of funding you need and whether it's capital or revenue.  

Top Tips for Using GrantTracker

Tip 1 - Look Ahead

If your circumstances allow, this is a great time to look ahead, beyond “lockdown” and strict “social distancing”.  Funders' main areas of interest are unlikely to change massively after the pandemic, so start searching now for the funders who best match your –

  • general mission

  • areas of interest/work

  •  type of project/core services

  • level of funding required, i.e. £500 or £500,000

Tip 2 - Use the "MyTracker" and MyNotes" features 

GrantTracker has bespoke features which allows you to co-ordinate your funding applications and keep your own notes. Use the “My Tracker" feature once you have located funders who are a good match for your work.  You can then keep track of these funders in terms of how their funding is changing as time goes on, e.g  AFTER the pandemic is over. Using "My Notes" will also help refresh your memory as to the key features of the schemes and why you were looking at them as potential funders.

Tip 3  - Use the Ranking system

  • With each scheme ranked 1* to 5* we've taken some of the work out of determining which funders are the most helpful, have the biggest funding pot, are the easiest to apply to and have the best success rate (5*) and which funders may be great but are very niche and only applicable to narrow areas of work or beneficiaries (1*).  And every rating in-between.  Don’t ignore 1*.  They may have scored 1* due to being extremely niche, but your project may perfectly fit that niche and it will then be a 5* for your particular organisation.  NB Remember - ALL COVID-19 funding schemes are automatically ranked 5*.

Tip 4 - Use the "Dates Page" to keep up with changing deadlines

  • Check the “Dates” page regularly to keep up to date with any amended deadlines.  COVID-19 deadlines are more changeable than usual funds, frequently closing earlier than the original date or being extended beyond it.

Tip 5 - Key Points for COVID-19 funding applications

  • For COVID-19 funding schemes, don't spend too much time “over-crafting” applications.  The turnaround times can be incredibly short.  You may find yourself sitting with a beautifully written funding application you can't submit as the scheme closed earlier than expected due to being massively oversubscribed. 
  • Read the guidelines extremely carefully
  • Double check the exclusions to ensure you can apply and aren’t wasting your precious time
  • Attach all requested documents. Where funders are oversubscribed, they are unlikely to give "second chances" to submit missing documents 
  • Keep your answers to the point.  All funders running COVID-19 schemes are generally doing so in addition to their usual work.  They won't welcome “War and Peace” applications. 
  • Keep your budget tight!  All COVID-19 funds are oversubscribed.  With so many organisations facing financial difficulties, only ask for exactly what you need.  Keep it minimal so that you don't antagonise funders with a "padded" budget.  It also means that others don't lose out due to your asking for more than you strictly needed.

Tell us what you think

We are always striving to improve GrantTracker.  Please let us know if there is anything you feel that we could do to improve it.  Just email [email protected] with any views, comments and suggestions you would like to share.

Finally, a big thank you to all our subscribers.  GrantTracker is subsidised by NICVA, as we believe it's an absolutely essential resource for our sector.  However, put simply, if we can't fund it, we can't run it.  Particularly now that our own income has been severely impacted by COVID-19.  So, a massive thank you to all those who subscribe to GrantTracker.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

Keep safe, keep well and keep searching for the funding you need now and in the future!

lynn.kennedy@nicva.org's picture
by Lynn Kennedy

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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