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Grants and funding - consultation

You will usually be expected to carry out a consultation before you apply for funding for your community group/project.

A typical consultation process can be broken down into five simple steps:

WHY – what you hope to achieve with your consultation

You should consider why you are undertaking a consultation and what you want to find out.  It could be to demonstrate support for a funding bid, or to illustrate the need for a community facility.  It is important that you are clear about this in order to avoid having to carry out further consultation unnecessarily.  Think about the outcomes and what decisions will be influenced because consultation with the public always raises expectations. 

Key questions to ask yourself and anyone involved in the consultation are:

  • What are the key aims?
  • What information or change is required at the end and what do we not have now?
  • What type of report do I need to produce at the end?
  • What will the information be used for?

WHO – the people and groups you should consult with

You will need to identify any people or groups who may have a view, or be impacted in some way (these are sometimes referred to as stakeholders) and plan how to get them involved in the consultation.  This will depend on what you are consulting on.  Think about who your key users are, the non-users and others who may have an interest.  For example, if you were consulting on making improvements to a community centre, you would need to consult with the existing users, the potential users, local agencies and voluntary groups and the local community including residents, schools and businesses.

It is essential that any consultation exercise reflects the diversity of the population.  Ensure that enough effort is put in to engage with members of the public who may find it difficult to be involved.

Some possible examples of those who may find it difficult are:

  • Minority ethnic communities
  • People with disabilities
  • Older people
  • Homeless people
  • People who travel or commute into the area

Once you have identified the members of the public, try to think of ways that could overcome any barriers that may prevent them from taking part.  For example you may need to use interpreters, visual aids etc.

HOW - the level and method of consultation needed:

Consultation methods include:

1. Focus groups - Group discussions to explore issues in depth and seek the views of interest groups.

2. Surveys - Consultation questionnaire, online questionnaires and telephone interviews.

3. Forums - Structured and regular meetings with interest groups.

4. Seminars and Workshops - An organised discussion group to exchange and gather information.

5. Public Meetings - Formal meetings to provide information and seek views.

WHEN - planning and delivering the consultation

Allow enough time for the planning, delivery and gathering of information for the results.  The tasks that will be required for the consultation are:

1. Preparation for the consultation

  • Decide on the subject for consultation
  • Decide with whom you will consult
  • Decide on the consultation method
  • Identify any costs involved
  • Build in time to feedback the results
  • Build in time for evaluation

2. Advertise the consultation

3. Produce consultation material

4. Run the consultation allowing sufficient time for all stakeholders to respond

5. Gather and analyse the information collected

6. Draw up a report of the consultation

Using the results

  • gather and analyse the data collected
  • draw up a report of the findings

The focus of the report should be on capturing whether or not the aims and objectives of the consultation have been achieved.  

It is important that you feed back the results of the consultation to all interested parties. 

This can be done in a variety of ways for example:

  • By e-mail to those whose contact details you have
  • Local media (newspapers, radio etc.)
  • Social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.)