Every County Councillor in Suffolk has a ‘locality budget’ – a pot of money from which they can award small grants to causes that benefit their local area. A number of libraries and friends groups have successfully applied to County Councillors for this funding and the process for applying is fairly easy. There is no initial application form, with only a simple one page form required further down the line.
How much can you apply for?
There is no definitive limit as to how much you can apply for, but typical amounts awarded by County Councillors are between £500 and £1000. In some cases, you may be able to secure more than this.
What kind of things can you apply for?
The important thing to remember is that you can’t apply to cover running costs – the funding must be for something specific such as equipment or the cost of delivering some kind of project. It is important that the funding will deliver some clear benefits to the local community. Other than that, the scope is fairly broad and County Councillors have already supported a wide range of projects in our libraries.
Which Councillors should you apply to?
The County is divided up into 63 divisions with each division being represented by a County Councillor. 12 larger divisions are represented by two County Councillors. Therefore, there are a total of 75 County Councillors in Suffolk.
It is logical that the Councillor(s) representing the division that your library is in are most likely to be willing to support an application in respect of your library. However, it is also worth considering approaching Councillors in neighbouring divisions, as they will have constituents who use your library – particularly if that division doesn’t have a library in it.
You can find out who your local councillors are (district, county and parish) by visiting http://www.writetothem.com and entering the postcode of your library. Your MP details are also on here.
You can also find County Councillors details – including contact information – on the Suffolk County Council website http://www.suffolk.gov.uk/your-council/councillors/
Should the request come from the library or the friends group?
Although Councillors who provide funding don’t generally mind whether their funding goes to the library or the friends groups, there are some exceptions with some preferring to provide funding via the friends groups rather than direct to Suffolk Libraries. The library manager may already know the County Councillor well enough to know their stance on this but, if not,
it might be best for the request to come from the friends group.
How to apply
The easiest way to apply is to email the Councillor with the request. Within the email, you should:
- Explain exactly what you want to spend the money on
- Explain clearly how the funding will benefit your local community
- Request a specific amount and give a breakdown of the costs that make up the total amount
The Councillor should respond and let you know if your application has been successful. If it is successful, there will be a simple form for you to complete and submit.
Joint funding: You may want to split the amount that you are applying for between two Councillors, especially if you are requesting a larger amount. For example, requesting £700 from two Councillors is perhaps more likely to succeed than requesting £1400 from one. If you decide to do this, it’s important that you send separate emails to each Councillor, rather than one email to both, and also to make sure that you tell each Councillor that you are requesting an amount from the other.
Part funding: It may be that the amount that you request from a Councillor represents part of the cost of a project. Indeed, it can increase the chances of a funding request being successful if you are able to show that funding has also been secured from other sources. If this is the case, you should make it clear in your email to the Councillor what the costs of the project are and what the sources of income are, indicating which sources are confirmed and which ones you are waiting for confirmation on.
Repeat funding: County Councillors won’t fund the same area of expenditure for two consecutive years but they may be willing to fund different things from one year to the next. However, their budgets are obviously limited and the demand for funding is great. Therefore it’s probably a good idea to try and avoid asking the same Councillor for funding in consecutive years, unless of course you have a good relationship with them and you feel able to broach the subject with them. There should be more than one Councillor that you can approach for funding because your library will not just serve people in the division of your Councillor but also those in the neighbouring divisions.
Example email: Here’s an example email in respect of requesting locality budget funding.
I am the Chair of the Friends of ****** Library, a group which has been set up to support and promote the library. We are all passionate about our library and keen to help increase and diversify the range of events and activities that the library provides to the local community.
There are certain items of equipment that the Friends of ****** Library would like to provide for the library. We would like to request funding from your locality budget to provide a good quality, portable PA system for the library and library friends group to use. This would provide the following benefits:
– they will enable libraries to hold more events as many potential speakers / performers will expect a PA to be provided. This will increase the value of the library to the local community.
– some acts will be more willing to perform for free or at a reduced rate if they haven’t got to provide their own PA
– a good quality PA will improve the quality and professionalism of the event which will improve the audience experience
– they can be a source of income. Whilst we would not be keen on renting them out for external hire as this could make them susceptible to damage, they could be available for a charge to people who hire space at the library
The system that we intend to purchase is a Bose L1 Compact and the cost of this is £750+ VAT. The benefit of this particular system is that it is small, portable, extremely easy to use – yet it is also powerful and excellent quality.
We would like to request a contribution of £500 from your locality budget. The remaining £250 will be funded from money raised from fundraising events and activities.
[for more complex cases where you’re buying several smaller, inexpensive items using funds from different sources, you should list the items and the sources of income, including the locality budget contribution, with the relevant amounts – obviously, the total expenditure should match the total income!]
Thank you for taking the time to read this funding request. I hope you are able to support the cause and trust that you will contact me if you have any questions.
If you have any questions about applying for locality budget funding, please email Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org