Voluntary Action Camden

Case study

Progressive Stages
One-to-One Support with Fundraising and Bid Writing

VAC delivered two bid-writing sessions to help 15 civil society organisations embed social value into future funding bids.

Violet Oruwari-McCabe, of Progressive Stages, talks about how important this training was to help her with future fundraising.

I am always boasting to others about the things VAC does: how good it is, how it trains, what it does compared to similar services I have experienced elsewhere – it’s amazing.

I came on VAC’s Bid-Writing course as I wanted to learn the best approach towards bid writing: what to focus on and how to deliver the information in our application to sell the project.

We learnt about the key performance indicators that are of most interest to the funders, the best way of presenting the organisation or your project, how to demonstrate the potential likely impact of the project, or how to show the value for money, or social value, of the benefits coming out of the project that are not necessarily financially quantifiable.

It is really useful to make the funders aware that project outcomes provide a social benefit, a benefit to society and the community overall, which in fact can reduce the overall cost to society of other forms of deprivation. The trainer knew how to teach, he could deliver and I learnt a lot. I’ve gained a great amount of knowledge now. The learning was really very valuable and will be applied and used in the next year for sure.

In the past I have also been on VAC’s Better Governance course. From this I got handouts about the duties of the management committee as opposed to the day-to-day running of the organisation, and I developed a portfolio of work in relation to governance. I then attended the Introduction to Teacher Training: a Peer-Mentoring and Coaching course. I am now a peer mentor and volunteer coach so I will be taking what I’ve learnt from VAC to prepare a short workshop to assist small community groups with bid-writing.

I am always boasting to others about the things VAC does: how good it is, how it trains, what it does compared to similar services I have experienced elsewhere – it’s amazing. Other similar service providers that I have used could really learn from VAC, for example, in terms of how to prepare trustees to be responsible Management Committee members.

In my experience, other places are more concerned about getting money out of VCS organisations rather than purely helping them. Even when VAC themselves were struggling financially, the emphasis was always on the voluntary organisation. VAC charges for some courses – and I started paying for them – because it’s clear the emphasis is on the community organisation and the learning. The charge was reasonable and good value for money given what we got out at the end.

If VAC wasn’t around I think there would be a huge impact for VCS groups as it’s a one-stop-shop that everybody, every VCS group will know or come to know in Camden. In terms of training and support, VAC also sets the learning at the right level for small and new community groups. VAC knows how to explain how to do the business plan, or sales forecast or budget. These are the things where the support provided by VAC bridges the gap for those that are new to this sort of thing, or that struggle with the concepts from some of the more complicated training out there that isn’t necessary targeted to small community organisations.

The support VAC offers is a great entry-level learning to help ensure that staff, trustees and volunteers have the necessary skills and knowledge, especially when groups have no idea where to start. VAC has years of knowledge which gives you an understanding of what is the best way to help try and translate these very complicated difficult concepts, like corporate governance, into something that can be understood by those who are new to these concepts.