Tips on applying for funding for CBR

Planning and Applying for Funding for a CBR project

Community-Based Research can require a lot of money, resources, effort and time. More collaboration and capacity building activities equals more time, and more time means more money.

The following checklist is useful for planning and securing CBR-specific funding. You may wish to use this checklist in conjunction with generic funding resources. At the same time, it is important to identify your internal resources as well as in-kind resources and supports that your partners are willing to provide so you can assess how much external funding you require and a better picture of all your in-kind/internal resources and external project funding.

  • First step as always is to do some research about funding opportunities. What funding bodies have funded other CBR projects in your field, city or province? Keep an active and updated list of all potential funding sources. What kinds and how much funding can a project potentially get? (Click here for some ideas.)
  • Talk to other agencies that have been successful in getting funding for their CBR projects to learn and adopt successful strategies. (If your project is related to HIV/AIDS in British Columbia, get in touch with the CBR Manager at PAN!)
  • Don‘t hesitate to look outside conventional research/CBR funders. If a foundation is new to Community-Based Research, become an advocate and try and convince them to begin funding Community-Based Research.
  • Don‘t ask for too little or too much. Knowing how much funding to ask for is both a science and art. Create a comprehensive project budget that captures costs for all stages and activities in your CBR project. Also, demonstrating that your agency is putting in internal resources and your partners are contributing in-kind resources is often viewed very positively by potential funders as evidence of strong agency commitment and partnerships. If you get more funding than you expected, you can always cut back on the internal and in-kind resource contributions.
  • Secure minimum amount of funding before commencing the project. Stay away from grants for $10,000 and under (there are many of them around). Unless, you have significant internal and in-kind resources, these grants do not provide enough money to implement a full CBR project. This amount is usually enough to cover project planning phase or a small component of the CBR project (eg lit review, printing costs). If you did secure another larger grant, then small grants like these can complement the larger grant. In other words, you can apply for small grants as long as they are not the only grants you are applying for.
  • Apply for and secure multiple grants. As noted above, it is a good idea to apply to many funding opportunities and try and secure multiple grants for your CBR project. If you get multiple grants, then the funds can complement each other. For example, you can get one grant to cover your capacity building activities and another one to fund your research activities.
  • Be transparent and strategic in your communication to your funders about changes. Funders will generally agree to changes as long as you can show that these changes are still within your project goals and that they actually can enhance the quality of project deliverables. We have found that having multiple funders also gives you flexibility to negotiate more flexible timelines or extension of timelines for your project.
  • Be clear about deliverables for funders. Funders have their own funding priorities. Balancing your CBR project priorities and expected outputs with those of your funders can be a tricky and sensitive process. In order to maximize the chance of being successful with grants, you may need to adjust some of your CBR goals and outputs to capture the priorities and expected deliverables identified by potential funders. For example, funder may require a number of academic publications as part of the deliverables or require that certain percentage of funds be used for a particular purpose (eg hiring graduate students). As a team, assess whether funder priorities and expected deliverables are doable and can be included in your project plan without creating excessive workload. In some cases, you can strategically negotiate with a funder about the deliverables so they are mutually beneficial.
  • Some funders do not fund administrative costs. This is usually the case of funding agencies that fund research as they agencies assume that these grants are for academics, who usually have adequate administrative support from universities to manage the funds. As a community agency, you can try and negotiate with funder for administrative costs. Alternately, you can also absorb administrative costs within other budget lines. For example, you can include a budget line for a general research support staff but use this line to cover for administrative functions (secretarial, finance, human resources support etc).
  • Budget adequate resources to complete reports and specific deliverables to funders. Writing reports to funders can take a long time. Make sure you budget adequate staff time and other supports/resources (eg editor to review the report; finance person in your agency to produce financial reports for funders) to write these reports and deliverables.

Adapted from the Community-Based Research Toolkit: Resources and Tools for Doing Research with Community for Social Change, Developed by Community-Based Research Team at Access Alliance in Collaboration with Sarah Switzer and Matthew Adams, January 2012