Advice for potential applicants – What Makes a Ragdoll Foundation Project?

1 May 2018

Spring 2018 marks two years since the launch of the Ragdoll Foundation’s Open Grants Scheme. In that time we have considered 396 applications, invited 57 organisations to submit for stage two, and given out 26 grants totalling just over £500k.

Our largest award in 2018 was £35,000 over three years to Citizens Theatre to support “Hear My Voice” a three-year drama and storytelling project working with 4-12 year olds in Glasgow school nurture programmes; our smallest grant was £1,500 to Cornwall-based CIC Drama Express to work with young people with complex disabilities to put on an inclusive summer pantomime.

How can applicants improve their chances of being receiving a grant?

Some figures for context – please skip if you don’t like numbers!  We invite approximately one in six applicants to submit a stage two proposal, and fund around half of these, meaning applicants have about a one in 12 (8.33%) chance overall of being funded. This might look discouraging, but once you adjust for ineligible and poor quality applications, the funding rate is closer to 25%.

To turn your application from “yes, that’s fine but not earth-shattering” to “wow, we must support this project,” we suggest that you:

Read the guidelines on the Ragdoll Foundation website and decide whether your organisation and project are eligible. This might sound obvious, but every month we receive proposals from organisations or for projects that aren’t eligible. We review our guidelines regularly and aim to make these as helpful and comprehensive as possible for our applicants – we don’t want anyone to spend time on a proposal that will be rejected straightaway.

Review our priority areas – our trustees are looking for innovative, high-quality arts engagement projects that put the voices of children or young people at the centre. Projects should also:

  • Be of strategic value for the organisation and / or the sector
  • Have the potential to become models of good practice
  • Include high quality evaluation and sharing of learning / outcomes
  • Listen to children and allow their perceptions and feelings to be better understood
  • Value children’s imagination and creativity
  • Involve children in their early years (0-10 years old), although we will also fund work with young people up to 18 (25 if eligible because of disability) in some cases
  • Take place outside of London, although we do occasionally fund London-based work

These aren’t in order of importance – but we are looking for projects that genuinely meet as many of these priority areas as possible.

Have a look at the funded projects on our website. Each of these has a quality that sparked the interest of our trustees. What will set your project apart from the others? What will it add to the Ragdoll Foundation Open Grants Scheme portfolio?

Answer the questions on the application form as fully and clearly as you can and make sure that your stage one budget can be read when printed onto one sheet of A4. It might be a good idea to ask a colleague to read through your application to ensure that your proposal makes sense to a reader who is several steps removed from your idea.

Good luck, and we look forward to receiving your application.

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