Turning good ideas into great projects

Julie Hughes, Swyddog Datblygu yn nhîm CDL Cymru
Julie Hughes, Swyddog Datblygu yn nhîm CDL Cymru
Feeling inspired but not sure where to start with your HLF grant application? HLF Wales Development Officer Julie Hughes offers some insight on bringing your ideas to life.

We all know how it feels to have a good idea, while at the same time having absolutely no idea what to do with it! From writing essays at school, through to cleaning the house or tackling that ever-growing jobs list – getting started is always the hardest part. 

[quote]“We know that applying for a National Lottery grant can seem a daunting process, but it’s worth reminding yourself that your project can get there - even if right now it really is only the vaguest of thoughts.”[/quote]

Yet once you’ve leaped over that first hurdle and creativity is flowing, the world can seem like your oyster. 

In the last two years, the HLF Wales team has received nearly 450 applications from people wanting a National Lottery grant to get their heritage project off the ground. That’s 450 individual ideas that we’ve helped coax and tease into shape ready for submission to our Board and Committee, where over half of them received financial support.

But remember - each one of those inspiring projects started out as nothing more than a simple thought. A thought that became an idea, that became a plan, a researched proposal – finally, a fully funded project. 

We know that applying for a National Lottery grant can seem a daunting process, but it’s worth reminding yourself that your project can get there - even if right now it really is only the vaguest of thoughts. 

In Wales we have a team of three people whose job it is to help you get started, turning that thought into something more. And because we’re passionate about heritage, we love hearing your suggestions. There really isn’t any idea too small, or complicated, or obscure – throw ‘em our way and let’s see what we can come up with together!

I want to dispel some of the myths around getting your heritage idea funded, and that getting started is the scariest part – because with HLF, it really doesn’t have to be...

I have an idea – how should I get the ball rolling?

You can always phone us for a quick chat, but for most of our grant programmes we have a Project Enquiry Form for you to fill in first. This enables us to get to know your idea and then give you some written feedback on your ideas before working on a full application.

Do I have to submit a Project Enquiry Form before meeting a Development Officer?

Yes. We don’t want to waste anyone’s time – ours or yours.

If you use the wealth of information on our website to develop the basics of your project via the form, we can then spend quality time with you afterwards strengthening that idea and sharing tips on what decision-makers are looking for, rather than simply repeating information which is easily found online.  

Is the Project Enquiry Form an essential part of my application?

For most of our programmes, the form is not essential but it is strongly recommended. Most applicants find it a good way to get feedback on their initial ideas, meaning your final grant application is stronger and more likely to be funded.

What does the form ask?

As well as basic information like your organisation and contact details, the name of your project and when you envisage it would start and finish, the form will ask you:

  • What heritage will your project focus on?  (This is your chance to tell us why the heritage is important)
  • What will your project do?  (Describe what will actually happen during your project - how you will engage with people, what are the outcomes/benefits?)
  • How much is your project likely to cost?  (It’s also useful for us to know how you’ve come up with this figure)
  • How much money are you likely to ask for from HLF? (Would we be your sole funder, or are you also applying for grants elsewhere?)

How much information should I include in my Project Enquiry Form?

The more detail you can give, the better feedback you will receive - but the form is limited to 1,000 words. You can also add attachments and photographs are always helpful and interesting for us to look at!

How do I submit it? Can I email it to you?

You need to submit the form through our online portal – please do not email it to us. You do this by creating an account, following the ‘apply and manage my application’ link and choosing ‘add project.’ Press ‘submit’ once you’ve filled in the form.  

When should I submit it?

We aim to respond within ten days of receiving your enquiry, but we recommend submitting the form as soon as you can, if you are working to a deadline. That way you will have plenty of time to strengthen your application following our feedback and further discussions with us, before submitting your final grant application.

What feedback can I expect?  

At this early stage we can tell you if your ideas are well matched to HLF, and if you are looking at the most suitable grant programme (we have lots of them, and your project has a better chance of getting funded if it’s in the most appropriate one). 

We can also suggest ways your application could be strengthened, by identifying possible partner organisations and other similar projects as well as providing information on budgets and average grant requests.

If I receive negative feedback, can I still apply for a grant?

Yes - our process is designed to strengthen your application, not scare you off!  

We will be honest with our feedback to save you wasting time on an application that we do not think will be successful, but it is ultimately up to you whether you want to take on our feedback, or ask more questions, or simply continue to submit a grant application regardless. 

What happens once I’ve had this feedback?

The Development Officer who has given you that feedback will be your main point of contact until you submit your grant application, should you continue to do so.  We can talk to you via phone or email and it is often possible to arrange a meeting in order to answer any questions that you have on how everything works, or on your specific project idea.  

When you think your application is strong enough, you can then submit your grant application.

So, what are you waiting for? We’re ready when you are!

If you've got any questions about submitting a Project Enquiry Form, or anything else related to an HLF application, drop into the Online Community and ask us.