Getting Started with Commissioning: a toolkit for arts and culture organisations in the South East

Getting Started with Commissioning: a toolkit for arts and culture organisations in the South East

By Creative Future


Creative Future shares advice for adapting to the shift from traditional grants to tendering and commissioning.

More and more Local Authorities and health funders are shifting from traditional grants to tendering and commissioning. As competition for arts funding increases - and statutory arts funding is cut - your organisation needs to get 'commissioning ready.'

What is commissioning?

Commissioning (also called tendering) is different than traditional grants funding. Rather than offering grants around a range of themes or priorities, funding bodies are:

  • choosing specific services they want voluntary sector bodies to provide
  • setting specific outcomes and outputs they expect will be achieved
  • paying close attention to value for money via unit costs

Find your local commissioners

  • Do try and meet local commissioners and sign up for relevant email alerts or opportunities
  • Don't cast your net too widely by looking too far afield geographically or at services beyond your area of expertise

Align with relevant strategies

  • Do review relevant strategies to help show how your work directly relates to commissioners' priorities
  • Don't overly stretch the definition of your remit to fit a priority or change your work to fit priorities unless it is fully in line with your beneficiaries' needs and organisational development plans

Evidence your impact

  • Do establish strong, concrete evidence of the impact of your work on your audiences/areas/beneficiaries
  • Don't stretch credulity by trying to prove inconclusive impact. Stick to a few concrete, causal outcomes rather than too many that overreach

Find supporting evidence

  • Do focus in on statistically significant data which directly relates to your beneficiaries and services
  • Don't hoover up huge amounts of information which doesn't directly correlate to what you do and who you do it for

Show value for money

  • Do put some background work in to show the economic value of what you do
  • Don't overstate your value or make unprovable claims

Partner up

  • Do make links with relevant partners
  • Don't get into unequal partnerships where you're getting crumbs from the table... or with partners who can't carry their weight

Keep an eye out

  • Keep up to date with commissioning opportunities
  • Don't miss the deadline - it might be three years before you get another chance!

Download the guide for more valuable advice and South East contacts:
Getting Started with Commissioning (PDF)

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Commissioning Fundraising Income Tender
Resource type: Guide/tools | Published: 2017