Hanneke de Bode, European Affairs Consultant, Euclid Network
EU funding - like the Union itself - is not the UK third sector’s most popular topic of discussion. Understandable as that may be, Euclid Network would like to make a case for trying to get Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) projects funded with European money.
As a consequence of the current financial situation and in a climate in which funding in general is getting more difficult to obtain, many of our members look to Europe for help. Where fundraisers used to complain about bureaucracy and endless paperwork, they now settle quietly for the extra work that completing EU templates brings. As the crisis goes on, obtaining grants is becoming more of a challenge than ever. And the competition for these grants will become stiffer, as the money being spent on civil society is not increasing. In other words: the number of applications will go up, but not necessarily the number of successful applications.
It is of course only natural that CSOs should rethink their attitude towards European funding – visit http://ec.europa.eu/grants/index_en.htm
for information on European grants. Yes, we know finding out about opportunities isn’t easy, read the Euclid Newsletter to see where we and others can help. And yes, we know the process is cumbersome, time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. However, it helps to give your organisation a clear idea of where it is heading, how to plan in detail and bring out your strategic qualities. That is knowledge and insight gained, no matter what.
How about co-funding, then? Admittedly, that is the hardest part. For applications to be submitted directly to the European Commission in Brussels there is no simple answer. But for the European Social Fund there is information and money available, visit www.esf.gov.uk
to find out about local agencies such as the Learning and Skills Council and the Department for Work and Pensions which has overall responsibility for ESF funds in England.
As Haroon Saad, Director of the European Regeneration Areas Network said “CSOs in the UK might want to look at new kinds of funding and funding cocktails. They could invest some time in researching these possibilities, revisit what they do and what they’d like to do. The big ones can obviously do this on their own, but for smaller charities it might be wise to join a European network for information, advice and support, especially for help with project proposals and partnership development.”
What else could be done? In general, and on the demand side, improving the quality of individual plans helps a lot. On the supply side, simplifying European grant procedures is another. Euclid Network has already started working on this with other partners, but it is not something that can be created overnight. And what we definitely need is an eye kept on the exchange rate and the statutory powers that provide co-finance. European funds for the UK are awarded in Euros, not UK Sterling and over a certain planning period. That means the UK is getting more pounds for these Euros, which will lead to under spending. That this money should be put to good use is a job for the third sector as a whole.
Hanneke de Bode
If you are interested in joining Euclid Network, please contact Jazzmin Farey at Jazzmin.Farey@euclidnetwork.eu