Children in Need - What's Changed
by Amy Appleton
Earlier this year, Children in Need closed their programme whilst they updated their application process. Now they are accepting applications again, I have summarised the main differences and what they mean for your organisation.

Firstly, what is the same?

The core aim of the programme remains the same – improving children’s lives. To achieve this, Children in Need focus on seven key pillars to keeping under 18’s safe and happy, and to ensure they reach their potential. These pillars are that children:

1. Are physically safe

2. Are physically well

3. Are emotionally well

4. Have strong self-belief

5. Build positive relationships

6. Have essential skills

7. Are positively empowered.

Grants are still expected to be for between £10,000 to £40,000 per year for up to three years. The website states that occasionally grants are for more, but I definitely recommend that you apply within their recommended threshold.

Unfortunately, the new process still does not support core costs. The website states: “we do not adopt the full cost recovery model. We will not fund any overheads relating to the wider organisation, and will only fund direct project costs”. Whilst this will be disappointing for many applicants, at least they make their policy clear and you can prepare your application budget with this in mind to give you the best chance of success. If you are interested in finding funding for core costs, check out our article ‘The battle for funding core costs’.

What has changed?

Focus on smaller charities: The first significant change is the criteria for which organisations can apply. Now, the grant-maker has made it clear that they are prioritising smaller, local organisations. As a result, they state that they will rarely fund organisations with an annual turnover of more than £2 million in the most recent, complete financial year.

Hope is not lost for those with a larger turnover, as applications will be accepted from Hospices, Housing Associations and applications to deliver nationwide work.

Application form/s: The complex two-stage application form that you may have been used to has been swapped for a single form process. Like the National Lottery Community Fund’s revised process (launched in 2018), the focus is now on making applications simpler to reduce the amount of time organisations invest in the application process.

The first step to apply to Children in Need now involves a one-off ‘Organisation Registration Form’ that will not need to be completed for subsequent applications. This form asks for organisation information, including trustee details, registration information and detailed safeguarding information. There is also an opportunity to include a brief proposed project outline at this stage.

By completing this step, Children in Need aim to filter out ineligible applicants before they waste time on an application form. If your organisation is accepted, you will be asked to fill in a ‘Project Application Form’, which they hope is simpler and easier to use.

The application process will still involve assessment calls with your regional Children in Need team, however, these will focus on their three priority areas – i) the role of children in your project, ii) planning and, iii) safeguarding.

National and Regional Plans – it is unclear how these will change, however, Children in Need say they have plans to roll out during 2020 to help charities to understand where they will prioritise their funding decisions.

What is next?

If you are eligible and encouraged by the new process, what is next?

Registration is open and the first deadline is 13th January 2020 with a decision expected by mid-April 2020. It is worth noting that they expect registration to take about three weeks once an Organisation Registration Form is received – so ensure that you leave yourself enough time for your project application! Registration forms submitted after 20th December may not be processed in time to meet the application deadline.

When describing how your project will make children’s lives better, it is imperative that you focus on:

- The disadvantages faced by the children you support and how their lives are affected.

- What your project will do and how its activities will help make a difference to children’s lives.

- The three most important differences your project will make – your outcomes.

- Using the language of change in your descriptions, e.g. improving life skills, increasing self-esteem, reducing distress.

- How you will involve children in every project stage, including design, delivery and evaluation.

Good luck with your application, I would be really interested to hear your experience of the new process, so please do get in touch. If you would love to apply to Children in Need, but you just don’t have the time – consider seeking external support. Get in touch to see if we could help you to apply by emailing me at amy.appleton@kedaconsulting.co.uk.

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