Tuesday, October 29, 2013

what’s worse than not getting a grant? – having to pay it back...

I've always held that grants are probably the riskiest type of money you can try and get – not just because of the time you need to spend researching and writing applications, then waiting for trustees to read your submissions, then responding to requests for more information, and eventually being awarded it (only to find that you can only spend it in certain ways), but for the reason that no-one ever tells you about: CLAW-BACK...

Within any grant awarded, you, the recipient, will sign an agreement and somewhere in the small print of it will be a clause that says if you fail to keep all the paperwork you’re supposed to, or don’t spend it on the things you said, or fail to engage with as many people as you thought you would, then you have to pay it back (after you've already spent it...)

And in my experience, advisors, grants officers and others will never stress upon you how real this risk is. And that’s a real concern as I know of several charities and groups over the years who've gone to the wall because they've been found wanting by the funder when it came time to file their reports and paperwork, and they've had to wind up in order to clear the arising debt.

From time to time, I'm invited to support various grant making programmes and initiatives – and I currently find myself having to serve notice on some local, fantastic groups who didn't keep their admin up to date and so now have to find a way to repay thousands of pounds. At its heartbreaking. So please, if you’re applying for grants – make sure you have proper admin systems in place to keep all the paperwork up to date that you’ll need as evidence for the funder. It may be glamorous or sexy or exciting, but it’ll mean you can keep meeting the needs in your community and stay credible in the eyes of everyone.

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