Social Value in Grant Management: Amplifying Impact Beyond Funding

April 10, 2024

Grant funding transcends the mere disbursement of funds. Its social impacts take myriad of forms, from community development to environmental stewardship to the empowerment of disadvantaged individuals and communities.

This article celebrates the far reaching social benefits of grant funding. It also gives a few suggestions to help funders leverage their position for greater impact.

Community Development

Grants that focus on community building strengthen the very fabric that binds local communities together. Communities serve as the backbone of society, making their strength and cohesion vital for its overall resilience.

Funders that focus on this area empower local populations, foster community engagement, stimulate local economies, and improve individual well-being.

In fact, a report about the National Lottery Community Fund’s (the largest community fund in the country) states that individuals experienced the following benefits due to their initiatives:

  • 78% mentioned improved mental health and wellbeing
  • 77% reported more social contact
  • 72% mentioned improved confidence and self-esteem
  • 66% said they felt less lonely

Here are a few examples of possible community grants:

  • Community infrastructure grants: Funding the development or improvement of facilities like parks, community centres, libraries, and public transportation, these grants enhance the physical and social infrastructure of a community. They provide spaces for learning and social interaction, improving the overall liveability of the area, and they may create a sense of belonging and pride amongst residents.
  • Funding local organisations: Supporting local enterprises or cooperatives can generate employment opportunities and nurture local talent, reinforcing the community’s economic foundation.
  • Educational grants: Grants can support educational initiatives that promote lifelong learning and skill development, enhancing community members’ employability and personal growth.
  • Health: Funding health, wellness and social services programmes can address critical local health issues, improve quality of life, and reduce healthcare disparities within the community. This could involve funding community clinics, mental health services, substance abuse prevention projects, and so on.
  • Affordable housing: These grants support the development and maintenance of affordable housing units, helping to alleviate homelessness and housing insecurity, critical issues in many countries at the moment.
  • Arts and culture: Funding arts and cultural programmes enrich community life, preserve cultural heritage, and promote creative expression, again fostering community cohesion.

How Can Grant Funders Work Best with Communities?

There are various strategies to consider in order to create the maximum impact. For example, grassroots initiatives play a crucial role in community development by enabling localised, community-led projects that directly address specific needs or challenges.

Funders of such projects can create significant impact by working closely with community members, understanding their unique contexts and needs, and supporting solutions that emerge organically from within the community itself. This approach not only empowers local stakeholders but also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the project’s success.

Small value grants support such initiatives as well as underrepresented groups that don’t have access to larger funding opportunities. Such grants can also help smaller organisations to stay afloat during challenging times. Also consider the value of thematic vs. place-based funding.

Environmental Stewardship

With environmental concerns becoming ever more prominent, grants that support conservation and sustainable practices play a pivotal role in protecting the planet.

Even when funders aren’t involved in projects that directly address sustainability, they can integrate environmental considerations into other projects.  

How to Ensure Sustainability in Funded Projects

Funders can incorporate sustainability criteria into their grant management processes to ensure that all projects contribute to broader sustainability goals. Here are some examples of how this can be achieved.

Environmental Impact Assessments

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) reviews the possible environmental consequences of a project. Steps can also be outlined for mitigating the risks involved and optimising resource use.


Funders can raise beneficiaries’ awareness of sustainability issues through training, and this may form part of capacity building activities. This way, grantees can learn more about best practises, which can underpin their activities into the future, creating long-term environmental benefits.  

This might include workshops on sustainable practices, resources on reducing environmental footprints, and guidance on implementing green policies within organisations.


Funders can incentivise the implementation of sustainable practises within funded projects. This could be through offering additional funding for qualifying awardees, recognition programmes, or providing platforms for sharing best practices.

Integrating Sustainability into Evaluation Criteria

Funders can include sustainability as a criterion within applications, ensuring that funded projects not only meet the grant’s objectives but also demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. For example, an education grant might favour programmes that use digital resources efficiently to reduce paper waste.

Sustainability Reporting Requirements

In some cases, it may be appropriate to include sustainability considerations in project reports. Grantees may be asked to report on how they minimise waste, reduce energy consumption, or encourage sustainable practices within their operations, regardless of the project’s primary focus.

Encouraging Green Procurement

Funders can encourage or mandate that grantees procure goods and services in an environmentally responsible manner. This could involve selecting suppliers that have strong environmental credentials, opting for recycled or sustainably sourced materials, or choosing energy-efficient equipment.

Promoting Sustainable Infrastructure

Even if a project is not environmentally focused, its physical infrastructure can still be sustainable. Funders can require that any construction or renovation work associated with the project meet certain green building standards, or they could encourage the leasing of office space in energy-efficient buildings.

Education and Empowerment

As mentioned, education plays a vital role in both individual and community empowerment, and grants that support educational initiatives can unlock immense social value, providing individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in our evolving world.


Funders can make an impact through targeted funding strategies that address key areas of need and opportunity. Here are some examples.


Providing scholarships or financial aid can empower individuals from underprivileged backgrounds to access quality education and opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach. This support can change the trajectories of beneficiaries’ lives forever and break cycles of poverty.

Capacity Building for Educators

Funders can invest in the development of educators to help them become more effective in their roles. This can have a multiplier effect, enhancing the quality of education for numerous students thereafter.

Supporting Lifelong Learning

Funders can support adult education, vocational training, and re-skilling programs that help individuals adapt to changing job markets, pursue new career paths, or simply engage in personal development.

Promoting STEM Education

Given the increasing importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in today’s society, funders can play a pivotal role in promoting STEM education, particularly for underrepresented groups such as women and minorities.

Case Study

British Science Week Community Grants

British Science Week provide funding for communities across the country, with several benefits: educating residents with new skills, improving collaboration and cohesion within communities, and stimulating interest in science.

One example is the 2021 project in association with the North Ronaldsay Community Association. North Ronaldsay is the northernmost of the Orkney Islands, with a population of just 65 residents.

The funds contributed to their annual Science Festival but also helped participants learn new digital skills including video production and editing, as part of the project was to make videos about the event, which helped connect the small community with the world.

Participants commented that these skills later came in handy for other community events. In addition, further funding was secured for conducting shore surveys, while Science Week stimulated interest in setting up a Wildlife Watch group on the island.

How Does Grant Management Software Maximise Social Impact?

Grant management software can be instrumental in maximising the social value of grant funding. First of all, it helps grant managers to streamline their processes and work more efficiently, helping funds get to those who need them as quickly as possible. But that’s not all.

EDI features facilitate the equitable distribution of funds, ensuring that diverse groups and communities have access to grant opportunities. Advanced platforms such as Flexigrant offer such tools.

Finally, software lets grant managers accurately monitor the impact of their funding, identify areas for improvement, and make informed decisions that enhance social value into the future.


The pursuit of social value in grant management extends far beyond financial transactions. It involves a deep commitment to community development, education, and empowerment, all of which are essential for developing a just and prosperous society.

Through strategic funding and innovative tools like grant management software, funders can amplify their impact, transforming grants into catalysts for social progress.

Many prominent funders in the UK and beyond use Flexigrant to manage their entire grant management lifecycle. To discover first-hand how your organisation can do the same, contact us today to request a demo.

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