While many schools engage in fundraising for Children in Need, some are unaware that they can apply for Children in Need funding for projects at their own school

In 2006 the BBC Children in Need Appeal raised over £33m and, as a result of the way in which the charity is constituted, every penny donated to the charity went directly towards projects helping disadvantaged children in the UK, thereby supporting thousands of youngsters aged 18 and under.

The charity’s mission is to change the lives of disadvantaged children and young people in the UK. Its vision is of a society where each and every child and young person is supported to realise their potential. This is accomplished by the provision of grants to organisations working with disadvantaged young people. This is actually a very broad remit and examination of the grants awarded in recent years suggests that the trustees do take this breadth very seriously and that grants have been made to school-linked groups in the past.

The size and scale of the BBC Children in Need Appeal means that they are able to give grants to hundreds of different organisations, some of which are very small and lack the staffing and resources to fundraise on their own behalf. Contrary to popular belief, the charity operates all year round, not just the months leading up to the appeal night.

As a result of its high profile, the staff around the UK process thousands of applications for funding. All of them are carefully vetted to ensure that grants are targeted at areas of real need. The money raised by the 2006 Appeal was distributed to 1,350 different organisations across the UK. An impressive £18.3m was raised on the night in 2006, but the final figure was in the region of £33m by the end of the financial year. Final figures for 2007 are not yet available, but the actual figure on the night beat previous records by reaching £19,089,771.

How is funding allocated?
The money raised is split between two grant application rounds, the first in November and the second in March. Applications are submitted on a regional basis, with each one being scrutinised by an allocation committee. These are made up of members of the public and it is their responsibility to target the money to where it can have the most impact on the lives of children and young people who need help. All committee members are volunteers who are recruited on the basis of the skills, experience and knowledge which they can bring to the organisation. Every year the funding requests exceed the amount of money but all applications are considered to ensure that grants are targeted on areas of real need and funds are allocated geographically to ensure that all corners of the UK get a share of the money raised.

How projects are funded?
Funding for a project may be for a period of up to three years. These longer term grants are designed to ensure that the project can get well-established and be in position to have a real impact on the lives of disadvantaged children. The funding is released in yearly instalments, upon receipt of a report detailing the work that has been done to date. Other projects will be given a single one-off grant, depending on the nature of the request and the project itself.

Who is eligible to apply?
Grants can only be made to not-for-profit, properly-constituted organisations based in the UK needing funds to help with a project that aims to improve the lives of children and young people suffering disadvantage. In this context ‘young people’ refers to under-18s and the term ‘disadvantage’ relates to:

  • illness, distress, abuse or neglect
  • any kind of disability
  • behavioural or psychological difficulties
  • living in poverty or situations of deprivation.

Many schools that apply do so under the banner of their parent-teacher association or friends’ group. Others link with a local community organisation to submit a joint bid.

What is the application process?
Grant applications can be made either:

  • in writing via the application form
  • by completing the application form online
  • by e-mailing Children in Need for a full application pack.

In addition to the actual application form, you will be required to submit extra information detailing exactly how your project will assist disadvantaged children. You will also have to provide an independent referee who will act as the first point of contact for the charity. They therefore need to be able to have an external viewpoint on the work of your organisation and proposed project.

The guidelines state that the key section of any application form is the detailed description of how the project will actually make a difference to the lives of the young people, and so it is important to consider how your work will change things for the participants. You will also be asked to explain why you set up the project and how you decided that this was the best way to address the disadvantage which has been identified.

Following on from this, you will need to show how you intend to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the project – what will actually show that it is making a difference in the young people’s lives? It is vital to set clear and realistic targets and to be very precise about the kind of evidence you will collect to check your progress towards your goals.

What types of project are funded?
Children in Need makes grants to a very wide range of projects. Both long-term (up to three years) and short-term (one year) grants can be awarded and funds might be used for:

  • capital projects
  • seasonal projects
  • holidays, outings, equipment
  • welfare funds.

The charity advises applicants to be realistic about what their project is trying to achieve and how they hope to achieve it, recommending that the project focus entirely on the young people and should take into account their views and involve them in decisions which affect them.

Some school-projects and the awards they were given
Organisation Location Award Project
Bradford Study Support Network Bradford £19,330 Provide study support sessions to children in Bradford
Music 4 U Aberdeen £3,600 Provide weekly singing workshops to promote self-confidence for children who have experienced neglect in an inner city
Yipworld.Com Cumnock £21,946 Provide mobile outreach internet facility to support personal and social development of young people living in isolated rural communities
The Red Hen Cambridge £34,677 Working on overcoming barriers to learning based in three primary schools
Friends of Stanley School Wirral £12,850 Developing health awareness and increasing sports and social skills by providing a safe environment in which children can play and exercise
Dunclug Partnership Group Ballymena £9,900 Funding the salary of a child development tutor for an after-school project working with the children from four primary schools
Holloway School

London-

Islington

£89,108 Saturday School project to aid the transition from primary to secondary education for those children with poor educational achievement, learning difficulties, poor English and a risk of social exclusion
The Mile Project Worthing £9,668 Provide a breakfast club for vulnerable children aged 8 to12 years, to increase confidence, improve relationships and provide a calm, healthy start to the day
Bedlinog After School Club Treharris £9,078 Provide an after-school club for primary school-aged children in extremely disadvantaged South Wales Valleys

What about salaries and grants for individuals?
While many charities will not fund salaries, Children in Need does recognise that this is a key expense in a number of projects and a section of the guidelines is dedicated to this area. Importantly, they also advise that applications in this area should be realistic and offer salaries in line with similar posts across the sector; should take inflation into account in their costings; and that they prefer to fund posts for the full three years. Similarly, it recognises that grants sometimes need to be made for specific individuals in certain circumstances. Children In Need work with the Frank Buttle Trust in order to facilitate this. Details of how to apply for these grants can be obtained via www.buttletrust.org.

What is the timescale?
On receipt of an eligible application, an assessor contacts the applicant and their referee to discuss the application. For November applications this will take place between December and Feb and for March applications this will take place in April and May. At this stage the assessor might ask for you to forward further information on the project.

They will then make a full report to the national/regional committee who will consider your application. This committee will then make a recommendation to the board of trustees, who are responsible for the final decision. Applicants are informed of the outcome in the first week of April (for November applications) or the first week of August (for March applications).

Previously funded projects

Although the charity does have a very broad remit, a trawl of their website revealed some school-related projects that are listed along with their aims in the table above. It is worth examining those in your own local area in detail to get a clearer picture prior to submitting an application.

Five ways to raise funds for Children in Need

Schools across the country have staged a range of innovative events in order to raise money for the annual Children in Need appeal. Here is a selection of the more imaginative examples.

  1. Lay a line of coins from one end of a football pitch (or an indoor badminton court if the weather is bad) to the other. Invite pupils, staff and members of community to take part and photograph progress during the day.
  2. Stage a ‘Talk like a pirate day’ (probably best confined to lunchtimes and breaks), possibly linked to appropriate fancy dress.
  3. Stage an inverse talent show, with prizes being given for those who perform songs, dances or other performances poorly. This is especially fun if staff take the lead, with a panel of judges made up of pupils who hold up marks out of ten (Strictly Come Dancing-style) after the performances.
  4. Invite a speaker to come into your school to talk about a topical issue relating to Children in Need in your local area (eg a vicar, member of a local group), asking people to make a donation in return for an entry ticket and refreshments. A school music group could lay on additional entertainment.
  5. Organise a sponsored head or beard-shave for staff. These seem to go down especially well with pupils. One school got its head of PE to have a live sponsored leg wax, carried out by a beauty therapist who used to attend the school.
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