You’re the new manager for a new project…  you read the funding application that sets out what you need to deliver and achieve –  and your first thought is that there is no way you can make that happen.

Or, you’re half way through a project and the targets that were agreed with your funder just aren’t happening…

What do you do?  We’d always recommend that groups speak to their funder(s) to discuss these kinds of problems early on, but we find a lot of organisations don’t like doing this.  They are concerned that the funder will take back the money.

But put yourself in a funder’s shoes. How would you feel if you’ve paid for something and it isn’t available… so the shoes you ordered haven’t arrived.  Eventually you chase them up only to find that they were wrongly listed and the shoes aren’t available.  How do you feel?  Angry?  Frustrated?  BUT if the shop had contacted you and said, “we’re really sorry, we got it wrong and those shoes aren’t available BUT we’ve got these which are very similar – or these which you might like” – then how would you feel, and what would you do?  We’re guessing you’d be much happier in the second case and fairly likely to buy the alternative.

Funders are (ideally) a partner in your project.  They have bought into your aims and objectives for the project because it meets their own aims.  Talking to them early on when things can still be tweaked or amended is a much better option than waiting until it’s too late.

And actually, if you can’t deliver the project or anything similar then maybe the money should be used elsewhere?  Next time, make sure your applications are realistic in terms of targets and what you can achieve – delivering a fantastic service for 30 people is much better than trying to over-reach and offer an inferior service that doesn’t really change things for anyone.