The following learning points have been taken from previous grant rounds and may help you strengthen your application.

General feedback

  • When applying for project funding, ensure your answers specifically talk about that work and not generally about your organisation 
  • Be clear and concise - make sure it's clear what will be achieved with the funding and/or what the impact will be 
  • Clarify who will benefit from your work or activity (including their involvement, specific needs and evidencing those needs)
  • Have a clear mission statement/vision
  • Applicants who answered briefly and succinctly tended to score more highly; longer answers tended to be difficult to follow and scored lower 
  • Ensure your budget balances
  • Higher scores awarded to applications that were truly cross-sector 
  • Confirm what your risks are and have a clear mitigation strategy 
  • Don't duplicate activity already taking place in Oxford

Criteria-specific feedback

Equalities, diversity and inclusion

  • Using your organisation’s HR equalities policy is not sufficient to answer how your project or activity will address inequalities 
  • Ensure you support your answer with data/evidence
  • Those with an action plan and monitoring scored more highly (a baseline action plan and monitoring was the gold standard)
  • Those who were actively including those experiencing inequalities or showing particular customer care scored more highly

Environmental sustainability

  • This is an area that many applicants scored much lower on and an area for improvement
  • Not everyone understood the impact of their project or activity 
  • Many were not specific about how they planned to mitigate their impact, but instead wrote about general ways to be green

Partnership working

  • Those able to clearly demonstrate how they support organisations scored more highly 
  • Disconnect between delivery partners and partnership working; not as developed as it could have been 
  • Higher scores awarded to well-established partnerships, that were genuinely cross-sector 
  • Lack of awareness of other organisations working in similar fields 
  • Those adding in what their partners contributed scored more highly

Health and wellbeing

  • Be specific about how your work or activity will provide meaningful health and wellbeing benefits 
  • Those that were able to point to evidence of impact scored more highly 

Attracting other funding

  • Those able to attract/evidence greater levels of funding elsewhere received higher scores (including planned applications) 

Innovation

  • This is about going above and beyond business as usual (e.g. in most cases, the use of video calls isn't considered innovative) 
  • Could include implementing best practice from elsewhere, trying new ways of working or embedding learning from pilot schemes elsewhere

Inclusive economy

  • Applicants score more highly where they can demonstrate that resources are shared more widely within the local economy 
  • Payment of the Oxford Living Wage scores more highly