Rocket Science has a track record of grant-programme design, management and evaluation on behalf of different funders – statutory bodies, charitable trusts and foundations, as well as private companies (in the form of corporate social responsibility initiatives) - to help them achieve maximum value from investments in a range of community-based programmes.
In addition to our role as the managing agent of grant funds, Rocket Science brings experience of programme evaluations (from small community grants to multi-million pound ESF initiatives); of providing support to enable organisations to deliver projects, as well as assisting organisations to bid for grants. We work with the funding community to promote “intelligent giving” and facilitate learning networks between funders and among grant recipients to identify and share best practice.
We are currently contracted as the Managing Agent of four different grant funds – the £850k Mayor’s Mentoring Fund; the £2m London Schools Excellence Fund (small grants); the £500k Mayor of London’s FreeSport programme and the £2m pa Newcastle City Council Newcastle Fund. No two grant funds are the same. We are continuously seeking ways to apply lessons from our grant management in order to enhance our services to both funders and applicants/grantees. The experience and learning we have had from managing FreeSport in Rounds 1 and 2 are now being applied to the administration of Round 2, not least in our web-enabling of the application form, the grant administration and projects’ monitoring. We always look to take on board feedback from our client (i.e. the funder) and customers (i.e. applicants and grantees) in order to identify how we can further improve the efficiency and accessibility of our processes and ultimately the impact of the funding.
FAME: Fund - Assess - Monitor - Evaluate!
We have developed tried and tested processes which together comprise a full grant-management service, from the inception and co-design of a fund, through to its evaluation and impact assessment. Our support for funders goes beyond ensuring effective grant-making, and includes services which are increasingly described as being “funding plus.”
In the current economic climate, funders are under considerable pressure to ensure that they make the best use of resources in pursuit of clear but realistic goals. We support grant makers to articulate their objectives, designing a fund’s eligibility criteria so that funding particular inputs and activities has every chance of translating into relevant outputs and sustainable outcomes.
Funders need to be confident that they are selecting grantees and funding projects which have the best chance of meeting particular needs and desired outcomes. Over the years, Rocket Science has developed our highly accessible, but increasingly intuitive on-line Bid Assessment Tool (BAT) which gives grant-makers confidence in their decision making and funding awards.
Monitoring is often regarded as the least exciting part of the grant making process. Yet, our design and application of an appropriate and proportionate monitoring regime is often critical to ensuring that grants are deployed as effectively as possible, minimising the risk of fraud and waste, whilst building the capacity of a programme’s grant recipients.
Evaluation is not just an end-of-grant report, but should be an ongoing process of learning that adds value and insights throughout any grant programme, as well as contributing to an evidence-based assessment of a fund’s overall impact. We work with funders to co-design evaluation frameworks and tools which bring together project and programme-level information in highly-accessible formats.
- Designing the fund’s prospectus and/or guidance for applicants, as well as application processes that are user-friendly and proportionate to the funding available
- Providing pre-deadline advice and support on-line, over the phone and/or via applicant workshops
- Marketing and promoting the funding opportunity to attract an appropriate range and quality of applications.
- Assessing applications efficiently and transparently against agreed criteria and weightings using our highly regarded Bid Assessment Tool which enables our team of trained assessors to apply a consistent, objective and rigorous scoring process which differentiates good potential projects from merely well-written applications.
- Proposing grant allocations which are transparent whilst providing a clear audit trail both to evidence decisions and demonstrate value for money.
- Generating high-quality management information which underpins recommendations to the funder and enables us to provide feedback to both successful and unsuccessful applicants
- Conducting appropriate Due Diligence on prospective grant recipients prior to negotiating the terms of their grant agreement.
- Administering the grant awards (holding monies on trust where required) in a timely and efficient manner, introducing monitoring arrangements which are proportionate to the level of grant and give confidence to the Funder
- Ensuring recipients’ compliance with the funder’s grant agreement and preparedness to cooperate with any financial audit requirements
- Supporting projects with a range of management tools and support services to enable them to maximise the impact of their funding
- Supporting recipients to measure the impact and effectiveness of their grant award, by identifying appropriate baselines, defining their intended outcomes, measuring and recording their progress
- Reporting and disseminating aggregated information on the impact and effectiveness of the grants to the funder as well as to wider stakeholders and strategic-level partners
- Facilitating a community of practice among grant-funded projects, both on line or via social media as well as through “learning and sharing” events.
- Ensuring that individual grant recipients’ management information and performance data can be used to inform any programme-level evaluation