Fundraising: How we got the grant - RSPB Environment and Education Centre

Zoe Jones, project fundraising manger.

Why did you apply to this fund? We have worked with the fund since its inception and regularly meet the heritage grants programme's senior grants officers. We successfully applied for a £335,000 grant in 2000 to help us buy Rainham Marshes from the Ministry of Defence, after the area had been inaccessible for more than 100 years. The centre, which will offer a lifelong learning community programme, will be built by mid-2006. Standard Heritage Lottery Fund conditions apply for this grant, such as acknowledging support through PR and with an appropriate plaque at the centre. We have also been assigned a grants-monitoring officer, to whom we must submit quarterly reports.

What did the application involve? After initial meetings with the fund to discuss plans for the reserve, we completed the 30-page form. There is a six-month assessment period during which a fund adviser makes a site visit, asks helpful technical questions and offers the chance for an ongoing dialogue. The whole process is very user-friendly. The project has involved many months' work, stretching back to a piece of extensive market research which identified the desires of the local community. The fund paid for this with £19,717 before we applied for the main grant.

Is part of the money for infrastructure or training? About 7 per cent of the grant will fund field teachers and visitor information staff. The majority will be used to build and design the centre and create nature trails, adventure play projects and discovery zones.

Did you apply to other funders? The total project cost is £3.9m. We have applied to many funders for match funding, with success from two last year: Bridge House Trust gave us £150,000 and the Fidelity Foundation gave £50,000. We are now waiting to hear from about 20 other trusts, the Sustainable Communities Fund, the Landfill Tax Credits Scheme and local businesses.

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