0333 321 3021


More Effort than they're Worth –Tiny Grants

26 Feb 2018 - 15:44 by Nigel Rose

This blog is going to seem really ungrateful but I know for sure I am not alone in this view.

I am a bit fed up of seeing another fund that gives out tiny grants.

I’ve just had a look at the Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine Construction Fund which is £20,000 in all, and is giving out “small” grants of £500 and “large” grants of £2,000. £2,000 is not a large grant, it’s a tiny grant!

Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust is doing the same thing, though the overall pot is much larger, they are giving out lots and lots of tiny grants.

I suspect some people may object to me describing £2,000 as a tiny grant but it’s good to get these things into into perspective.

The overall budget of Central Manchester Foundation Trust (which now has a new name), was roughly a billion pounds in 2015/16. £2,000 is 0.0002% of their budget.

A nurse (worth every penny), gets about £30k, bit of a guess, but on-costs including pension are at least another 50% on top of that (need to include equipment and estate costs etc.), which leads to an overall cost of 45K. £2k represents roughly 2 weeks of work. For some of the rather better paid commissioners who come up with these kind of grant programmes £2k represents nearer 1 week of their time. I’d say that’s tiny.

I suspect most of the people who give out tiny grants have never applied for one and don’t realise how much time it takes. First you need to read the guidance and try and figure out what on earth they are getting at, then you have to fill in a form that is usually much longer than it should be for a small grant. That effort may, of course, be entirely wasted, if you aren’t successful. Then if you do get the money you probably have to send in some documents of some kind and then arrange for payment. Then when you’re carrying out the activities you have to make records to show what you have done and keep receipts for everything (the Construction Fund wants a film). After that you have to fill in a monitoring form.

Do the people who devise these tiny grants work out or even think about exactly how much money and time they are wasting which people in the voluntary sector could spend doing something more useful?

We still need tiny grants (with minimal admin), they are the right amount for some things, but it would be good if there were considerably more small grants (nearer 10k), medium grants (50k) or even large grants £100k or more.



Sign up for Policy and Influence Updates!
Do you want to receive the latest insightful and thought provoking blogs written by Mike Wild,  Claire Tomkinson, and Nigel Rose and members of the Policy and Influence Team direct to your in box?

Sign up to our Updates mailing list and receive these blogs as soon as they are published along with the new quarterly Policy and Influence bulletin - https://www.manchestercommunitycentral.org/policy-and-influence-updates


Shared Topic Areas: 
Nigel Rose's picture


Submitted by Rick Gwilt on

Spot on, Nigel. And sometimes, unfortunately, there can be ethical dilemmas for local infrastructure organisations like Macc, who may be offered funding to administer such grant schemes. From what I've seen Macc usually seems to get the balance about right between its own survival needs and the need to advocate for the wider third sector (as you have just done very forcefully), but that has not always been the case in neighbouring districts. As a front-line manager in the recent past I've found myself and my Board being pressured by the CEO of the local CVS to bid for tiny grants administered by the CVS even though I know it's not a cost-effective use of my time.

Submitted by Karen Mercer on

<p>Dear Nigel</p><p>I have been saying similar for as many years as I&#39;ve been involved in fundraising, which is many! We keep hearing that we as third sector organisations need to be sustainable but still the tiny pots and project pots remain with very little change in the time it takes to complete the applications and all the restrictions (no core costs, no salaries, etc, etc). If only grant givers would listen but few do. It is impossible to have a sustainable organisation delivering good outcomes on pots of &pound;2000.</p>

Add new comment