The Covenant Fund: Is my project eligible
YES, NO and MAYBE
When the Covenant Fund was launched in 2015 there was a deluge of applications from a diverse range of organisations, all keen to maximise this new funding source. Previous programmes included funding for a parental support worker at RAF Benson, Road Safety campaigns at RAF Honington, development of a community learning centre at RAF Wittering and support for The Ripple Pond which helps the families of wounded, sick and injured personnel.
The Covenant Fund has also given grants to support Local Authority delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant by funding Armed Forces Covenant Ofﬁcer posts.
For the ﬁrst three years, the Covenant Fund was based within the Ministry of Defence, and in April 2018, following a decision that it should become independent, it moved to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
“grants are made of up to £20,000 for local projects that support community integration or local delivery of services”
Unfortunately there are always some projects who don’t ‘make the grade’ and fail to secure funding.
Whilst we navigate our way through the eligibility criteria and look at how we may increase the number of funding grants awarded to projects which will directly beneﬁt our RAF families, you’ll note that the question of whether your project will be funded or not can be answered Yes, No or Maybe.
The Covenant Fund has £10m per annum in perpetuity to fund eligible projects, their mission is to give all applicants a fair chance and want to fund a range of organisations, projects, geographical locations and beneficiary types.
Although there is no guarantee of being successful due to the competitive nature of the fund, your project is likely to have a better chance of being funded if you provide strong evidence of meeting the criteria set out in the guidance provided, it is therefore hugely important you read this guidance thoroughly.
The Covenant Fund has different priorities every year. You can check current priorities which are open to bids on their website. The local grants programme has been open for applications since May 2018 and will remain open until the end of 2018. Under this priority, grants are made of up to £20,000 for local projects that support community integration or local delivery of services.
Projects must show how they will bring the civilian and military community together to improve integration and understanding and awareness of the two communities or they must deliver an important service to support the Armed Forces Community in health and wellbeing, social or emotional support, ﬁnancial wellbeing, employment, education or training. In addition, successful applicants under this priority can receive additional support from the digital development programme which offers training and support to organisations to help them improve their digital capabilities and good practice in managing governance in the digital age.
There are lots of good examples of funded projects within the guidance document – it is highly recommended that this is studied at length before beginning an application.
Many applications have been rejected that would have been better served applying elsewhere. There are multiple funding streams which should be considered and it may be that grants can be awarded from several different sources. Familiarise yourself with other funding streams (e.g. Heritage Lottery Fund, Central Fund, Annington Trust, RAF Benevolent Fund) and consider carefully if the Covenant Fund is the right funding stream to apply for.
The most frequent reasons funding has not been granted are:
- Lack of evidence of need – if there is no real evidence that the service you are wanting to fund is needed, you will not get funding
- Duplication – the RDA Boards are made up of representatives from the military and charitable sector in the local area, they are aware of what services are already available so if the bid replicates what is already in place, you will not get funding
- Infrastructure projects – Local Grant bids from units are always very welcome however if it is a bid which is classed as infrastructure, it cannot get funded. We know there is areal need for repairs to many buildings but this remains the contractual obligation of DIO and external funding is not available for this purpose
- Lack of evidence of partnership working – some candidates have gone so far as to state they are working closely with the local unit when in fact there is no relationship at all! The best way to ensure your project is fully evidenced and supported by all keystakeholders is to build those important relationships and gain input and credibility by referencing them in the bid
- Sustainability – some projects don’t include any reference to evaluation or ongoing impact. The Covenant Grant Team need to be satisﬁed that, if held to account, the funded projects are able to provide evidence of impact and governance
Even if you meet all the eligibility criteria, have written the strongest bid possible and followed all the guidance to the letter, you might still not be granted funding. It could be that when the bid reaches the central London panel it doesn’t ﬁt in with the wider national picture and that there were many other bids equally as strong and eligible that meant that there simply wasn’t enough funding to go round on that occasion. It could be that the Trustees are unable to fund your project because it would mean too much funding going to one particular geographical area and it’s important that there is a good spread of funded projects.
There are no restrictions on applying again – there may be less competition in the next round but you should ensure you get detailed feedback as to why you were unsuccessful. There is no guarantee of course that if you re-apply, this will lead to success.
It is highly recommended to engage with your local Covenant Manager from the RAF Families Federation. The team all have a seat on their regional RDA panel and have much experience to share.
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