Charities are spending £1.1billion a year applying for grants – but almost two thirds of them fail in their bids to receive more cash, new research has found.
Researchers from the University of Bath as well as Brevio, an organisation which aims to put an end to the “huge wastage and inefficiency in grant making” by streamlining the procedure have published data exposing the “inefficiencies” of the grant application system.
They found that registered charities are spending an average of £1.1billion a year applying for grants, with an average of 63% of applications resulting in failure.
Dimo Dimov, an entrepreneurship professor at the University of Bath, said that the figures do not reflect badly on individual charities. Instead, he told The Telegraph, “it’s more about the inefficiency of the whole system”.
“It’s full of inefficiencies, with charities applying for different funding from different places. It’s unfortunately just the way this sector works. There’s no individual entity which is responsible for this, it needs technology to help make it more efficient.”
The figures were announced at the annual conference for NPC Ignites – which supports charities to maximise their social impact – in London on Thursday.
The organisations founder and chair, Marcelle Speller OBE, gave the presentation. The former founder of Localgiving.com Ltd, the UK’s leading web platform for community groups and small, local charities.
The research also found that grant application forms contain between 21 and 193 questions and an average of 1,622 words are required per application.
Furthermore, on average a charity applies for 22 grants a year and spends 18 hours completing each application.
Researchers asked respondents for data on a typical year, for example how many grants they would apply for in a typical year, in order to reach their conclusions.
Brevio is an independent organisation which aims to create one standardised application form with only eligible applications being submitted to funders. The funders will then decide what to fund and can alter criteria to manage supply and demand.
Philip Hodgson, the company’s CEO, added: “It’s certainly not the charities fault. It’s not even fair to blame the funders. The system has grown to become what it is, and it’s the system that needs to change.
“We always knew there is huge waste and inefficiency in the current grant application process. But if we are to successfully change the system, we needed to quantify that waste.”
“Brevio is extremely lucky to have the support of world-class academics at University of Bath. Their research has quantified how bad the situation is. The results prove how much change is needed, and that Brevio’s solution of grant standardisation and digitisation is needed so much.”
Max Rutherford Head of Policy at the Association of Charitable Foundations said: “We know from our Stronger Foundations initiative that there are various ways to improve the funding process for charities, ensuring the right applicants reach the right funders, and that funders are as clear as possible about the projects and causes they are most likely to support.
“But it also reflects the limited resources available – demand is always higher than supply – and the legal due diligence that Charitable Foundations must undertake when they receive an application, to ensure that money requested will be well spent and that it aligns to their own charitable mission.”
Paul Winyard, finance policy manager at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which represents charities, added: “Charities often tell us that funders have unduly complicated application processes which cost them a lot of time.
“Everyone knows not every application will succeed but the risk is that good charities are dissuaded from applying.
“Good funders are aware of this and they’re trying to be more proportionate about what they ask for, but many still have more work to do to.”