Funding story: The Princess Royal Trust East Ayrshire Carers Centre

Despite its small size, the Scottish carers organisation has expanded its scope and the funding it receives.

Big organisations employ dedicated fundraisers, but the really big ones employ dedicated trust fundraisers, whose entire jobs involve developing and handling the relationship with donors. Small voluntary sector groups, by contrast, are at a well- recognised disadvantage.

That does not prevent them from securing funding from a whole range of sources. It does, however, mean they have a juggling act on their hands, both in terms of getting the funding in the first place and in allotting different funds to different projects. So how does it work?

The Princess Royal Trust East Ayrshire Carers Centre is a good example. Its most recent grant was for £80,000 from the Scottish Power Energy People Trust for its Eliminating Poverty project. It also receives funding from 20 other donors.

"When I started here 11 years ago we had three funders - the local health board, the local authority and a one-off setting-up grant from the Princess Royal Trust for Carers," says Laura Bennie, project development worker at the centre.

Since then, the centre has expanded from one base to four, from an annual budget of £75,000 to about £700,000, and from two and a half members of staff to about 20.

"That statutory money remains our core funding," Bennie says. "All other funding, from foundations and trusts, varies hugely in the amount given and its purpose. My jobshare, my manager and I spend a large proportion of our time looking at funding."

Given that funders have a tendency to opt for the new and the innovative, this inevitably leads to problems in securing ongoing support for a project once the initial grants have been spent.

"The problem is that when funding runs out for a project it's not new any more, and the funding runs out accordingly," says Bennie.

"We've identified about 5,000 carers in our area, but we estimate that we still have another 10,000 to find. We try to find new ways of tracking down the hard-to-reach ones.

"We usually think of an initiative and then look for the funding, although sometimes funding comes along and we look at how we can fit an initiative into it."

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