Impact for Growth – What makes a successful application?

At the end of November we held the second meeting of the Impact for Growth Investment & Commissioning Panel. Our task was to decide which applications should be awarded grants. This was my first panel meeting and it allowed me to get an insight into what the panel look for and what makes an application stand out from the crowd. For those that were successful there were some common threads.

  • Who’s driving the work? The panel is keen to see that the work the grant will fund will be driven by the organisation applying rather than the provider they’re working with. The successful applications demonstrated strong internal buy-in for the work and an organisational wide commitment to impact management that will help embed the learning beyond the work the grant will pay for.
  • Will changes be made if needed? A question that come up several times was whether the panel felt an organisation had shown that they were open to change. Basically, would they be willing to stop delivering a service if the evidence showed it wasn’t working? The best applications clearly showed a desire to understand their beneficiaries and what works for them
  • Can the learning be shared? One of the key outcomes for the programme is shared learning - for applicants as well as investors and commissioners. Good applications showed clear opportunities for sharing learning. For example, using the outcomes of the project to help others improve their relationships with commissioners and integrated approaches with partners.
  • Have you been here before? If you have received previous grants for impact or investment readiness work it’s vital you explain what you learnt from that process. We also need to know how this funding will be different and build on what is already happening. Many unsuccessful applications failed to explain what they’d do differently.
  • Do you know what else is going on? The last thing we want to do is reinvent the wheel or duplicate work that is being done elsewhere. Make sure you have taken account of what is already happening in your sector and know about other work on measuring outcomes for the people you work with.
  • Remember the training. The panel is looking for applications that reflect the principles and the approach discussed in the training. You need to show a clear narrative thread to the building blocks of impact management – target population, outcomes, programme design and performance management, and project learning. Use this as your framework and you’ll stand the best chance.

There are now two more grant application deadlines for the Impact Management programme – 15 January and a final closing date of 29 January. Remember you can only make an application if you have attended one of the Impact Management training days. Best of luck!