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Learning Needs Analysis for Funding Advice

Jonny Gutteridge
Funding Advice Network Manager
Regeneration East Midlands
25 January 2010
Learning Needs Analysis for Funding Advice
In November 2009 Regeneration East Midlands conducted a survey of the learning needs of
funding advice workers in the region. 111 people responded to the survey, giving us a rich and
valuable source of information about who funding advisors are and what their needs are in terms of
knowledge, information, skills, and training provision. This document summarises our findings.

Thank you to all those who responded to the survey and who forwarded the survey to colleagues.

If you would like to make further comments on what the learning needs are around funding advice,
or to suggest appropriate learning activities please contact the Funding Advice Network Manager.


Summary............................................................................................................................. 3

Section 1: Skills and training........................................................................................... 4

Section 2: Knowledge and Information ........................................................................... 7

Section 3: The changing funding advice environment .................................................... 8

Section 4: Delivery of training ....................................................................................... 11

Section 5: Meeting needs across sectors and roles ..................................................... 13

Section 6: Next steps.................................................................................................... 14

Section 7: Additional information .................................................................................. 14

Section 8: Contact details ............................................................................................. 14

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Aims of the report
With this report we aim to support the personal development of paid workers and volunteers who
provide funding advice services for voluntary and community groups. By identifying key skills and
knowledge and trends in the sector we hope to help individuals and their managers to make
choices about training and other learning activities.
Secondly the report’s analysis will guide the development of a programme of learning activities
delivered or promoted through East Midlands Funding Advice Network. We have identified core
subjects for EMFAN’s own funding advice training as well as additional learning needs that we
hope to meet through events and discussions and through promoting training from other providers.

Key learning
There is a reasonable level of training in key funding advice subjects for a good proportion of
respondents but still a significant level of need: nearly half of funding advisors appear to be
working with only quite limited training. See pages 4 and 5.
Client groups for funding advice training include those new to funding advice, general development
workers who give funding advice, and those seeking accredited training to support their continuous
professional development. See page 6.
We identified support for the current OCN level 3 accreditation for training but a significant
proportion of advisors do not see it as valuable for them. No clear alternative has emerged yet.
See page 6.
Business advice and the use of web sites and email bulletins are important new areas of skill and
knowledge for funding advice workers. See page 6.
EMFAN has support from the Big Lottery Fund to help provide funding advice training but we need
to help advisors identify alternative sources of learning to address areas not covered by that
support, particularly web skills, business advice, project management and marketing. See page 6.
Even advisors who have participated in a lot of training still need the latest information about
funding and fundraising trends, so we need to supplement training by ensuring that advisors have
access to information services. See page 7.
Training is being delivered in a difficult environment, with advisors reporting change that is having
a negative impact in terms of funders’ expectations, the type of income available from funders, the
changing local economy and most of all the amount of income available from funders. Some
advisors are facing uncertainty about their own future and concerned about their own continuing
professional development. See page 9.

Next steps
The EMFAN project will develop a training programme for 2010/11 in line with the
recommendations in this report and work with other infrastructure projects to identify a range of
alternative training opportunities for funding advice workers.
The detailed recommendations of this report will be integrated with EMFAN’s project plans.
The project will also share this analysis with the Network membership, with stakeholders including
East Midlands Funding Forum and with training providers with an interest in funding advice training
and related areas.
The EMFAN project will continue to research and respond to the learning needs of funding advice
workers over the course of the project (until 2013).

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Section 1: Skills and training
The most important skills for funding advice
We asked people to indicate the essential and desirable skills required to deliver funding advice
services, based on a list of subjects. We ranked the results and this gave us five distinct bands as
below, from “absolutely essential” elements which lots of people said were essential, to “additional
skills” which were scored as desirable by some respondents.

Understanding Diagnosing Absolutely

funding criteria group needs essential

Analysis of project Researching funding

Providing feedback
outcomes streams

Working with Successful project Understanding trends in

partners management fundraising

Working with diverse,

Business Marketing the
marginalised or excluded
strategy advice service Highly

Fundraising Organising Using

strategy events databases

Coaching Desirable

Writing printed Developing online Developing Additional

publications resources websites skills

1.1 A few additional skill areas were named in comments including the ability to influence
funding programmes; public speaking and presentation skills; jargon busting and enthusing

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Filling the gaps and getting the level of training right
To assess the extent to which respondents had the right skills for each subject area we asked
them what training they had had, and what training they would like. We broke the answers down
into introductory, advanced and accredited training. 81 people responded to this part of the

1.2 Over half of respondents had already had training in five or

more skill areas.

However that means nearly half of funding advisors are

delivering their services with only quite limited training

1.3 Introductory training

A quarter of respondents stated that they need introductory training in at least five
elements of funding advice.

People needing introductory

training in at least five subjects
related to funding advice.

1.4 Advanced training

Nearly half of respondents would like advanced training in at least one area. However only
a few want advanced training in five or more areas.

People needing advanced

training in at least five subjects
related to funding advice.

1.5 Accreditation
We asked, “How well does current OCN level 3 accredited
funding advice training suit your personal development?” Prefer
different Very
system well
The data indicates a problem around recognition of the
value of accredited training. While 41% of 83 respondents
are happy with the current accreditation, 37% just don’t Don’t OK
know what use it is to them. know

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1.6 Comments from those who would prefer different accreditation show they fall into two
camps: those who are looking for a higher level of accreditation and those who are looking
for accreditation from a sector-specific body like the Institute of Fundraising.
1.7 Across the range of skill areas four in ten respondents were interested in accredited
training for one or more areas, with one in eight people interested in the top five areas (see

What people want, by subject area

1.8 Survey respondents were asked what training they would like to have at introductory or
advanced level, and what accredited training they would like. This enabled us to identify
the top five subjects in terms of overall demand and in terms of demand at different levels:

Top five for all training

1. Understanding trends in fundraising
2. Business strategy
3. Project management
4. Analysis of project outcomes
5. and a tie at five for Fundraising strategy, Developing online resources and Marketing
your service

Top fives forF

Introductory training Advanced training Accredited training

1. Developing online resources 1. Outcomes 1. Fundraising strategy
2. Web development 2. Project management 2. Understanding criteria
3. Fundraising trends 3. Marketing the service 3. Business strategy
4. Business strategy 4. Trends in fundraising 4. Outcomes
5. Marketing the service 5. Tie between researching 5. Project management
funding and diagnosing

1.9 We looked at the subjects where most people had already had training, and those where
least training had been given:

“Had training already” “Not yet had training”

1. Funding criteria 1. Developing online resources
2. Project management 2. Websites
3. Outcomes 3. Marketing service
4. Researching funding 4. Diversity
5. Providing feedback 5. Trends in fundraising

1.10 Finally we identified the areas where most people said training isn’t the answer:

“Training not the answer” top 5

1. Working with partners
2. Providing feedback
3. Diverse communities
4. Researching funding
5. Online resources

1.11 In comments about the demand for training numerous respondents highlighted the
importance of on the job experience in developing funding advice skills and knowledge.
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Some felt that hands-on work is much more important than training, others that training
has a part to play. They also cited lack of budget as a reason for not stating their training

Skills and training recommendations

1.12 Promote core funding advice training while supporting access to training on special skills
like web development and business advice.
1.13 There is a need for provision of an OCN level 3 or equivalent level course covering core
funding advice subjects, suitable for new funding advisors or those seeking accredited
training to support their on the job experience. With no clear alternative to OCN level 3,
which has a fair level of approval from those who are aware of it, this training should
remain at the core of the programme.
1.14 Work with trainers, accrediting bodies and national infrastructure organisations to improve
the value and awareness of accredited training for funding advice.
1.15 Support access to training on subjects where few have already had training including
marketing the advice service, working with diverse, marginalised or excluded communities
and understanding trends in fundraising.

Section 2: Knowledge and Information

2.1 We wanted to know how best to provide information to funding advice workers and
websites and email bulletins came out clearly on top, then one to one contact with funders,
and then network events. Comments showed that that we could have included contact
with co-workers and links to head offices or colleagues in other English regions as useful
sources of information.

Preferred information sources

Email bulletins


One to one communication with funders

Networking events

Informal networking


Funding fairs

Printed funding directories

Paper bulletins

0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350

Total score (5 for most preferred, 1 for least)

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Knowledge needs and expectations Specialist
2.2 In general respondents reported that they are expected to funding
have general community development knowledge including General
funding information, not just knowledge related to funding development
advice. knowledge General
2.3 The questions about knowledge showed 56% agree with the advice
statement “Every now and then there are gaps in my
knowledge and I improvise” and a further 17% say they are
regularly challenged by gaps in their knowledge.

2.4 Asked about their knowledge of local or county networks, 56%
knew of a network specifically for funding advisors and 25% Know of
knew of a development worker network that includes funding no local
issues. More than a quarter of respondents knew of no such network
2.5 43% of people who know there is a local or county network
relevant to funding advice do not participate in it. Know of a funding
advice or development
2.6 Voluntary sector respondents were slightly more likely to be work network
network members than their counterparts in local authorities.
2.7 Nine out of ten respondents working in Leicestershire, Rutland and Lincolnshire were
participating in funding advice networks, compared to three or four out of ten in other

Knowledge and information recommendations

2.8 Learning and development around funding advice needs to target a wide range of
development workers, not just funding specialists.
2.9 Improvements in the availability of funding information and resources could address gaps
in knowledge for a significant proportion number of advisors. The EMFAN project should
review regional Internet information services, identify and respond to any gaps and
promote the services to funding advice workers. It should also ensure that its events and
other activities provide information about new funding and resources for advisers.
2.10 The EMFAN project should promote engagement in networking by communicating the
existence, activities and successes of networks across the region.

Section 3: The changing funding advice environment

Our survey asked people to tell us how change is impacting on their work in a range of areas
including their relationship with and income available from funders, their job security, and the
needs of groups and their communities. We wanted to understand how a new learning
programme would fit with the reality of funding advice across the region.
3.1 Looking at the quantitative data we gathered showed that overall respondents had mixed
views about current change in the funding advice environment, with few clear trends
emerging. However the data did give some significant results.
3.1.1 Almost nobody felt negative about use of technology and the Internet for funding
advice and more than half felt positive about it.
3.1.2 The scoring around funders’ expectations, the type of income available from funders,
the changing local economy and most of all the amount of income available from
funders showed significant pessimism about change going on in these areas.
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Green show POSITIVE change, orange and red show NEGATIVE change

Events/changes in

Changing local economy

Resources to support funding

advice work

Your job security and job role

Your organisation's

Use of technology & Internet

for funding advice

Funder application processes

Amount of income available

from funders

Type of income available

from funders

Funders' expectations

Groups' needs

Groups' fitness for funding

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%

Significant positive change Some positive change No change Some negative change Significant negative change

3.2 The comments gave a much richer picture of what is going on. 59 respondents made
comments, some commenting on several different issues.
3.2.1 Comments about beneficial change were spread across a range of issues. The only
positive area which showed consensus was around the usefulness of the Internet in
informing groups about funding, either through websites or e-bulletins. There were
some positive comments about web-based application processes but also some
negative ones about their accessibility. Similarly there were positive comments about
improvements in the support available to groups but these were matched in number
by negative ones. Other positive comments were isolated so perhaps not
demonstrating anything significant.
3.2.2 Comments about harmful change were mostly around two areas: (1) changes to
availability of funding and the economic situation for groups, with a third of these
linked explicitly to the recession; (2) challenges around the way funding is structured
(not just grants) and funders’ expectations of groups seeking funding. There were
three comments about competition and blurred lines between the public sector and
voluntary organisations, with detrimental results for voluntary organisations.
3.2.3 Without doubt the subject that drew by far the most comment was the general
economic situation regarding access to funding. Respondents also had plenty to say
about funding structures and funders’ expectations.

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Analysis of comments by subject
Funding structures and
General economic situation funders’ expectations.
regarding access to funding. 20 comments (20 negative)
30 comments (28 negative, 2 positive)

Internet information
Support available to improve group resources.
capacity to access funding. 8 comments (7 positive,
one general)
7 comments (3 positive, 1 general, 3

agenda. Barriers to successful
2 comments (1 positive, 1 applications.
general) 5 comments (2 positive, 3

Other application
innovation. Funder and infrastructure
1 comment (1 positive) organisations’ capacity to
Loan finance and
understand community needs.
enterprise. 4 comments (2 general, 2
3 comments (3 general) negative)

Other changes to
group needs. Sense of community.
3 comments (3 general) 1 comment (positive)

Recommendations around change in the funding advice environment

3.3 Recognise that training is being delivered in a difficult funding and funding advice
environment, with some advisors facing uncertainty about their own future and concerned
about their own continuing professional development.
3.4 The learning programme should provide advisors with the skills and knowledge to address
key issues of funding accessibility, funding structures and funders’ expectations.
3.5 Identify and promote opportunities for funding advisors to improve their ICT skills to help
adapt to, and benefit from, the trend towards more use of technology for funding advice
and funding applications.
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Section 4: Delivery of training
Location of training

The East Midlands is a large region so we wanted to know how people felt about the distances
they need to travel to training. We asked them how far they would be prepared to go if (a) the
training looks just OK or (b) the training looks great.

Travel distance for different quality training






0-10 10-25 25-50 50-100 100+

4.1 While some people would be ready to travel over 50 miles for training that looks OK, most
definitely would not go as far and would prefer to travel less than 25 miles. For training
that looks great everybody would be prepared to travel further, with more than half being
prepared to travel over 50 miles.
4.2 We also surveyed people’s access to transport and over 90% of respondents reported
good access to a car, with nearly three out of four having good access to a train service.

Equality and diversity

4.3 We wanted to identify any barriers to accessing training due to a failure to address equality
and diversity issues. Seven of the 85 people who answered this question reported an
experience like this.
4.4 A majority said that the issue was related to their group’s ability to afford the time and cost
of training, with one respondent saying this is particularly the case for BME groups. Other
issues that impeded access to training included visual impairment, phobia, family-
unfriendly timing and part-time working.

Online or ‘e’ learning

4.5 Our question about the usefulness of online or ‘e’ learning that people had experienced
before drew 37 responses, with two thirds saying that they thought it was either fairly

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useful or very useful. On the other hand 12 of the 37 thought it was only barely useful or a
complete waste of time and money.
4.6 It looks as though there is some reason to explore the contribution of e-learning to funding
advice training, but with only a minority having experienced it and a minority of these
having scored it low we would need to be cautious in developing this area.

Paying for training

The EMFAN project needs to decide a fee structure that best meets the need for training across
the region so we asked people to indicate what they would expect to pay for half and full day
training sessions.

Average fee data across all sectors










Half day min. Half day Half day max. Full day min. Full day Full day max.
average average

4.7 The rate people expect to pay for half a day is less than half of what they expect to pay for
a whole day. In other words it appears as though full days are more valuable – on the
whole people would pay more for a full day than they would for two half days. However
this does not exclude half-day trainings as a possible solution for those with limited time or
4.8 The results supported the practice of charging more to funders, private sector and local
authority organisations, with voluntary and social enterprise sector respondents expecting
to pay only 70% of the fee paid by other sectors for a full day of training.
4.9 Workers on permanent contracts expected to pay £30 more than temporary workers for a
full day of training. Similarly, full time workers expected to pay a little over £10 more than
part-time workers.
4.10 Several comments related to this question focused on the general inaccessibility of training
for small voluntary and community groups with little or no training budget, and several said
that current training budgets are severely restricted due to the unusual economic
circumstances. Other comments focused on the need for quality training that genuinely
facilitates learning and demonstrates value for money.

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4.11 The EMFAN project’s training should consider people’s travel preferences when identifying
locations. Locally delivered training might make a real difference to take-up.
4.12 Training providers should proactively identify potential accessibility problems for training
participants, seek feedback and consider the affordability of training for small groups.
4.13 Online learning should be considered as an additional source of training rather than as the
core of the programme.
4.14 Any difference between fees for voluntary sector trainees and others should not exceed
the difference in expectations between sectors that is indicated by the data. In other
words, voluntary sector fees should be no less than 70% of fees paid by others.
4.15 The EMFAN project should make careful use of the data about fees people are willing to
pay to set prices that maximise take-up of the courses offered.

Section 5: Meeting needs across sectors and roles

To get the training right we wanted to understand the range of organisations and individuals
delivering funding advice in the region.

5.1 Almost all of the 101 people who answered a question about their role in giving funding
advice are directly involved in advising groups.
5.2 In terms of geography, at least 15 respondents served each of the region’s counties, apart
from the smaller county of Rutland with five. Twenty respondents worked across the
whole region rather than just part of it.
5.3 Asked how best to describe their organisation, respondents were mostly from the voluntary
sector (43%) followed by local authorities (22%) and funding providers (15%). Very few
respondents were from social enterprise organisations or the private sector.
5.4 Almost all respondents are paid workers with just three responses from volunteers.
5.5 Nearly a third of paid workers were on temporary contracts. In voluntary sector
organisations 40% of respondents were on temporary contracts, compared to 25% among
funding providers and 17% among local authorities.
5.6 A quarter of local authority funding advisors who responded and two fifths of those from
the voluntary sector are part time.
5.7 20% of respondents manage staff or volunteers as well as providing funding advice
5.8 When we asked people about the aims of their organisation the leading answer was
improving the sustainability of the third sector, with a lot of support for developing the
sector’s skills and knowledge as an aim as well. People also identified strongly with
focusing on specific geographic areas, with roughly half of respondents naming this in their
top three aims. However additional comments made showed that the respondent’s aims
were diverse. They represented particular sets of beneficiaries or areas of interest: faith
groups, youth, sport, or green issues. And they didn’t just advise external VCS groups: a
few supported small enterprises, others gave a significant proportion of their time to
advising internal colleagues or fundraising for their organisation.
5.9 Over half of respondents said the organisations they serve are in a mix of urban and rural
communities and nearly a third said their beneficiaries were predominantly in rural
communities. Clearly there is a strong need for training that develops skills and knowledge
relevant for both rural and urban communities.

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5.10 We need to ensure that professional development options are available to the significant
proportion of people who have a shorter working week and to volunteers (often in small
groups) and temporary workers.
5.11 Develop new learning activities around the activity of managing a funding advice service,
as distinct from the activity of giving advice.
5.12 Managers of funding advice service should ensure that they have strategies to build and
retain organisational knowledge to counter the effect of having a high proportion of
temporary staff.

Section 6: Next steps

6.1 The EMFAN project will develop a training programme for 2010/11 in line with the
recommendations in this report and work with other infrastructure projects to identify a
range of alternative training opportunities for funding advice workers.
6.2 The detailed recommendations of this report will be integrated with EMFAN’s project plans.
6.3 The project will also share this analysis with the Network membership, with stakeholders
including East Midlands Funding Forum and with training providers with an interest in
funding advice training and related areas.
6.4 The EMFAN project will continue to research and respond to the learning needs of funding
advice workers over the course of the project (until 2013).

Section 7: Additional information

To save paper we have opted not to include appendices which could have doubled the size of the
document. Additional information from the survey available on request includes:
7.1 Breakdowns of statistical data by county
7.2 Breakdowns of statistical data by sector
7.3 A summary of over 50 comments made about the current external challenges for funding
7.4 A copy of the survey questions

Section 8: Contact details

Please direct your feedback, questions or comments to Jonny Gutteridge, Funding Advice Network
Manager,, 0115 979 2333, 07917 088 286

Please note that Jonny’s email and telephone details will change after March 31st 2010 because
EMFAN is moving to a new host organisation.. Unfortunately at time of writing the new contact
details are unknown however emails should be forwarded automatically by Regeneration East
Midlands’ server until 30/06/10. If you have difficulty contacting him you will find up to date contact
details at or by contacting the Big Lottery Fund’s
East Midlands office on 0115 872 2950.

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January 2010

The EMFAN project is

supported by Big Lottery Fund

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