Focus: Fundraising - How we got the grant - RSPB Manor Farm

Lou Doret, development manager, south west England

Why did you apply to this funder? An opportunity arose to purchase a farm between two of the country's most important areas of chalk grassland - a declining but essential habitat for certain bird, plant and invertebrate species. As it was on the open market, we knew we had to act fast. We knew the fund could urgently fund a land acquisition project of this scale and contacted its south west team to discuss the possibility of a fast-track application.

What did the application process involve? After discussing the project outline with the fund over the phone, we then submitted a pre-application form before meeting the fund's development staff. The meeting concentrated on the match of the project to the fund's criteria. We secured the grant in six weeks. However, we still have more to do to comply with the grant.

Is part of the money for infrastructure or training? Most of the grant is towards the purchase of land and buildings at Manor Farm. Further money will also be needed for conservation and habitat works, building works, equipment purchase, staff costs and other overheads. We hope to secure a mix of funds for the five- to ten-year project.

Did you apply to other funders? Yes. We have until Christmas to secure the land and raise the remaining £1.8m. We have applied to the Sita Trust for £175,000 towards the habitat restoration costs and await the result.

We have also launched an appeal to our members and to trusts.


Nerys Watts, south west manager, Heritage Lottery Fund

Few people realise that every lottery ticket has the potential to save and preserve our countryside as well as historic buildings. Wildlife havens such as Manor Farm are an important part of our heritage, and it's important to keep these habitats for future generations to see.

Sites such as this are very rare, and restoration of the grassland will have many benefits, such as establishing a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitat and enabling the re-establishment of a number of priority species. This acquisition offered real value for money relative to the site's heritage importance.

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