External Funding

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by Emily Winch

A BJC can pay for itself .... JUST.

Some BJCs have made a handy profit. Some have made a few thousand pounds of loss.

Both BJC 2007 and BJC 21, Doncaster, 2008 were part funded by the Arts Council. However, there are some non-obvious drawbacks that teams should be aware of before accepting external funding.

Funding plus points[edit]

Hopefully this is obvious!

For BJC 21, Doncaster, 2008, some of the funding allowed the main organiser to take unpaid leave from her job to devote more time to the BJC.

Other money provided some paid workshops, (trapeze for example), from people who are not part of the juggling community and so wouldn't be coming to the BJC of their own accord.

Both of those things clearly made BJC 21, Doncaster, 2008 better.

Funding drawbacks[edit]

  • Funding is usually supplied for some very specific activity - usually one that has a benefit to the general public. But BJC normally has very little attendance from the general public, so it's easy to end up with the majority of the funded activity not being for the benefit of the core BJC attendance. Workshops in local schools, paid performers around the town on Saturday, etc, etc.
  • This means that you are promising not only to run a BJC, but ALSO a lot of other stuff. Remember you are a volunteer team, you will be extremely busy, and you have a finite amount of time in which to organise a BJC. You can end up with a real conflict of interest between your public events and your responsibilities to your core customers.
  • You have a moral and legal obligation to spend grant funds in the way you promised to - even if your circumstances have changed and (for example) your previous group of enthusiastic volunteers have stopped answering phone calls.
  • You have to specify up front what you will spend the money on and it's not easy to change your mind later. If this is the first time you've done something like this you may find yourself later wondering why on earth you agreed to do X, Y and Z, or realising that your plans and budgets were not as sensible as you thought... but now you're committed!
  • Funding can come through late in the day leaving you little time in which to spend it.

There is also some money available from previous BJCs to be used as a startup loan.

BJC 21, Doncaster, 2008 recommendations[edit]

Before you send in any funding application:

  • Have a detailed project plan in place showing how you will achieve the objectives. The project plan should reflect the fact that most of the work will have to be done between the date the money would become available and the date of the event. It should name the person or people who will do each part of the work, and those people should have read the funding application and the project plan and be happy with it.
  • Have a risk assessment in place. What could go wrong with your plans? What will you do if these things happen? For example, if you have promised town centre entertainment, what will you do if the council withdraws its support for your planned road closures?
  • Have detailed costings. Don't guess how much things will cost, find out!
  • Know what you will do if you don't receive the funding.
  • Put one single person in charge of implementing the funded elements of the project. That person doesn't have to do everything themselves, but they do have to be responsible for making sure it gets done. Both that person and the main project manager should be 100% happy with the funding application before it goes off.