Council Funding On The Doorstep?

Clubs and Fisheries are sometimes at a loss when it comes to available funds for improvement projects. Angling Improvement Fund Manager, Andy Petch is an expert in knowing what can be available from the many programmes in existence. In this blog, Andy discusses one specific option that can sometimes be overlooked.

Raising funding for projects at Clubs and Fisheries is a challenge that many Anglers face. One source that can provide pots of money in both small and large amounts is our local councils.  This can come in the form of various Community Funding schemes or from the money provided to compensate for the impact of new housing.  This is called Section 106 money or Community Infrastructure Levy depending on your local authority.

I have been successful in securing large grants from these sources and have also worked directly with local developers to deliver projects with clubs.  I have also sat on panels awarding substantial amounts to public groups and consider there to be 10 key points when approaching councils for funding. With bills increasing and causing greater pressure on council’s budgets, it is vital that you present your organisation and its requirements in the best way possible.

Whatever your pitch is going to be, preparation is key. Councils are busy organisations and time spent on poorly presented propositions is time wasted. You don’t want to be beaten before you start……

Hopefully, some of these points will be helpful in your efforts to accumulate money to make improvements at fisheries.

  • 1 – Deliver a presentation at your local Council meeting
  • Ask the Clerk for a 10–15-minute slot to talk about your organisation
  • Practice your presentation and ensure you run to time
  • Dress smartly, or better still wear an Angling Trust campaign top such as ‘Anglers against pollution’. It might just be something that council members will relate to.

2 – Explain the many positives of your organisation

  • How large is your membership? – it’s probably one of the largest club in the area if not THE largest. Usually far bigger than other local sports clubs. This can be a surprise to many people
  • Describe your junior section and explain how this is helping to move young people off indoor computer games and be active outdoors instead.  Many councils have targets for getting people active
  • Wildlife photos taken at your sites are particularly impactful
  • Research the aims and objectives of the respective council and highlight how your project or organisation meets those objectives
  • Ensure they know the significant contribution of volunteers to your organisation, including total number of hours contributed
  • If you have a development plan, be sure to let them know about it

3 – Link your organisation to projects run by the Angling Trust or other national bodies

  • Use Angling Trust videos to demonstrate the great work of Anglers.  Love Fishing Love Nature is one great example, as is Anglers Against Pollution. These are available on YouTube
  • Really expound that your organisation wants to be a part of the local community
  • Share how Anglers are at the forefront of tackling litter and pollution, testing water quality, baliffing rivers, experiencing nature and also that this is predominantly achieved through the efforts of volunteers
Love Fishing Love Nature is a campaign that showcases the fantastic work clubs, fisheries and individual anglers do for angling and conservation

4 – Invite them to find out for themselves

  • Invite councillors (and their families) to come to an open day and try out angling for themselves
  • Invite the Chair or Mayor to present prizes and say a few words is often a suggestion that’s well received
  • Ask to put a poster or leaflet in council buildings or on council noticeboards and consider putting an article in the local magazine. Councils are often keen for fresh content with pictures

5 – Ask about local groups that the club could potentially become involved with

  • Do they have links with disabled organisations, ex armed forces, schools, or less well represented groups they could put you in touch with?
  • There may be groups interested in ‘balsam bashing’, water quality testing or even becoming bailiffs on your waters.  They could assist in linking you with a local volunteers’ register
  • This would be a good time to show that you have health and safety, safeguarding and risk assessment policies in place

6 – Now is the time to tell them about your projects and explain the positive impact they will offer the local community, not just your organisation specifically

  • If you purely approach asking for money, it is far less likely to be met with a favourable response.  That’s why the previous 4 points are vital as part of building your case
  • Make it known that your projects are costed, well planned, deliverable, and genuinely needed.  An ‘oven ready’ project is far more appealing to fund than a ‘pipe dream’ with little detail.  It also provides them with the ‘get out’ of saying; “come back to us when you are clearer about what exactly it is that you are asking us for”
  • Tell them about any other funding that you have secured, including what your organisation will contribute from its own funds
Promote community initiatives like junior coaching
Prove community spirit – ‘Anglers Against Litter’

7 – Ask about funds you may be able to access

  • Does the council have community funding pots that you can apply for?
  • Will they consider match funding your project?
  • Can your organisation be considered for funding from the section 106 pot?
  • Explain why your organisation should be taken into account when neighbourhood plans are compiled.  Remember, you may well be the largest membership organisation in the town/parish/district.  That’s a lot of voters!
  • Could you become involved in partnership working with other interested organisations? For example; toilets, improved footpaths, balancing ponds, and environmental projects.  For instance, canoeists, paddle borders and free swimmers all have an equal interest in water quality 
  • Combined voices make your appeal for help far more difficult to ignore

8 – Avoid straying into anecdotes and stories

  • Remember you need to maximise your impact, not voice your opinions and irrelevant personal experiences.  If talking to a committee structure, it’s possible that some are not remotely interested, and others may not even like Angling.  Don’t give them any ammo or worse still, bore them!

9 – Show zero political allegiance

  • Many councils, particularly the higher tiers, consist of members of political parties. The difficult truth is that funding your organisation may prove unpopular with others on the panel who have ‘pet projects’ of their own that they would rather support and see succeed
  • Be aware that if funded, it is likely they will mention your organisation in any literature they distribute, and this could be by a political party

10 – At the end of any presentation

  • Praise them for the work they do in your community (even if you don’t mean it!)
  • Say thanks for the opportunity to address them, and for listening to you
  • Invite any questions
  • Listen to what they ask, make notes if necessary, and ensure that you respond to them swiftly with the requested information

And if all else fails, you could pack up the rods, and stand for election yourself! 

Good luck.

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