Expecting the Unexpected

Foundations Derbyshire

Learning from Awarded Projects

Every year we receive hundreds of end-of-grant reports back from awarded projects. One of the questions we ask in our end of grant report is:

What would you do differently?

This is a chance to look at the challenges and problems that arose, no matter how significant or minor. Alternatively, groups reflect on how the project could have been: better, bigger, or more effective in the future.

Whilst the answers that are provided by groups in this reporting space are incredibly varied, and of course project-specific, there are a few common themes that pop up time and time again…


“Next time we will approach clients earlier in the year.”

“It has taken us a little longer than we planned.”

“I would have started the process earlier.”

“Lead-in times have had an impact on the overall outcomes of the project.”

It seems so obvious but always give your project a timing buffer if applicable

Have a quick think through of what you will do if something does not happen / or materialise on time, developing some plan B scenarios right at the start can reduce stress, and offer reassurance to all involved.

Sometimes however timing issues just simply can’t be foreseen, take a look at our problems section below to see how to move forward should an issue arise.


“Try to reach more organisations and other charities, a concerted effort to reach those who would benefit.”

“We would open it up to the wider community.”

“Wider publicity to get the message out.”

“Think bigger and look at ways more organisations could join together to better serve the communities.”

We are huge fans of learning from others who have walked the path before you. We’re also advocates for sharing details about your project as widely as possible from the get-go (where appropriate).

If you would like to chat to a group in the County who might be undertaking similar work, let us know and we can arrange an introduction. Challenges, successes, and opportunities can be shared with those that are providing comparable services – it can really make a difference to your own plans and ideas.

As soon as funding has been secured, look at how to get the message out about your service. Print media, local news, community radio, leaflets & posters in high footfall areas, newsletters in schools, talking to existing community groups, and of course social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


“We would focus automatically on the online workshops. We have found that running the workshop sessions online gives more flexibility to different people’s situations.”

“Where possible we would like to gain more feedback from the parents/carers and how we could use simple tech / online surveys to achieve this is a consideration for the future.”

Increasingly (and exacerbated by the pandemic), groups are looking to see how to make best use of technology to deliver, share and gather information. It might not always be the best solution, but it is worth scoping out how new tech platforms could make your role easier or encourage more individuals to access your services.

What to do if a problem arises?

Whether the issue is timing, budget concerns, or an unforeseen problem, communication is key.

Foundation Derbyshire is a flexible and open funder, and we can often provide a sounding board, advice, and a variety of options to progress if things have gone awry.

Whether it’s an extension to the grant period, changes to the budget or connecting to others who have gone through similar issues, always pick up the phone (01773 525860) or drop us an email and we’ll be happy to help.

We can offer

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