What does a typical day look like?
First things first, I usually start the day with a nice cup of tea before checking my inbox. Although I work from home, I certainly don’t get lonely as I’m always on the phone or answering emails. Perhaps a church warden wants to update me on their project’s progress, or a charity CEO wants to talk about a potential application – there’s always something exciting to discuss.
The rest of my day can be extremely varied, although it largely centres on reviewing applications. Now that Covid restrictions have eased, I might be visiting a church that has made a grant application for a larger project and I’m often having virtual meetings with my lovely Benefact Trust colleagues. As a team, we work closely to support each other and discuss projects.
It’s great when I get the opportunity to attend a launch event or speak about the work we do at a conference, but of course I can’t escape the paperwork all the time – there’s plenty of that in my role!
Which grants programme do you lead?
Together with my colleague Usman, we take the lead on reviewing applications for our General Grants Programme. Every month, we review around 60-80 applications with our trustees, which takes time, but worth every minute when we get to share the good news with some amazing Christian organisations. After the approvals are made, I then liaise with our communications team so that they can work with our beneficiaries to shout about their successful projects.
What makes a good grant application?
Above all, a good application is clear, concise and complete! It pulls together a strong case for support and demonstrates the commitment and passion of those involved. I would advise any potential applicants to read the advice on our website thoroughly before applying, and if in doubt, ask us first!
What makes a good grant visit?
I visit around two to three projects every month (but this can vary). Grant visits are really valuable, as they give me the chance to delve deeper into an application, iron out any queries and get to know the people involved. Virtual grant visits were a real life saver during the height of the pandemic, but nothing beats the real thing.
When I’m on a visit, a quiet place to chat is essential, and it’s always good to hear from a range of voices if possible. There’s no need to be nervous as I aim to keep my visits friendly and open. I also like to find out about the local community from those who actually live and work there.
What are your top tips for potential applicants?
Our website contains fantastic resources and guidance to help you make a great application – so read, read and read again! If in doubt about the eligibility of your project, it’s best to ask us before spending hours writing an application. We’re a friendly bunch and aim to help you if we can. Keep an application clear and concise; make every word count and keep it relevant to the question being asked.
What types of projects are you most passionate about?
We receive such varied applications with some truly fantastic projects. The projects that particularly excite me look to support children and young people - a group of people who have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic. As a Grants Officer, you have to treat each application fairly and in the same way, but there is no harm in being passionate about a particular cause. It keeps you motivated and brings immense job satisfaction.
What do you love about your role?
Don’t get me wrong, my job has its challenges and there isn’t much ‘down time’ to speak of. However, I love the flexibility of being able to organise my own time and also the fact that I’m not just tied to my desk. My colleagues are really great too – so hardworking and kind. If I’m having a bad day, I can guarantee someone will check in on me.
But most of all, it is so rewarding to be able to support churches and charities to make a real difference – that’s job satisfaction for you.