How to avoid common mistakes on a Volunteering Projects application

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When processing funding applications, the European Solidarity Corps UK team has observed common mistakes made by applicants when completing the webform and submitting their Volunteering Projects proposals.

To help you out before the 1 October 2020 deadline, we share common pitfalls and our top tips. Read on and be ready to prepare a strong application.

Common pitfalls within the application form

1. Volunteering activities: description of activities is vague and/or inconsistent

  • Make sure you describe and give examples of the non-formal and informal activities and methods involved in your project;
  • Link the activities to the objectives, learning outcomes and theme(s) of the project;
  • Ensure activities are consistent in the application form and in the activity timetable;
  • For example, if your project aims for inclusion through community activities, what community (non-formal/informal) activities will you be doing? How are these activities meeting the participants’ learning objectives? Are community activities reflected and consistent in the activity descriptions, timetable and learning outcomes? 

Describe and give examples of the non-formal and informal activities and methods involved in your project.

2. Logistical aspects: lack of adequate detail 

  • State how mentoring and monitoring will take place, how often and by whom. What experience does the mentor have? What will monitoring involve? Will the volunteer have support to complete Youthpass? 
  • Provide detail about accommodation and travel arrangements. Who is arranging this? Where is the accommodation? Will participants be close to the place they will volunteer? Will participants live together and why? 
  • Explain how the health and safety of participants will be ensured. Will they undertake heath and safety training during an induction period? What organisation procedures are in place? Which staff will support participants’ during activities?
  • Detail how your organisation and partners will support participants’ employability and integration into the labour market during the activity and upon return. For example, completion of Youthpass, support with CV writing, information of any training modules.
  • Think about your Quality Label or European Voluntary Service accreditation and how you will uphold these standards.

3. Budget: incorrect or ineligible costs requested

We provide advice and examples in our application guidance and webinars on competing the budget section. If you are unsure if an activity of budget request will be eligible, why not email us to check? Most common errors are in the following categories:

  • Exceptional costs: make sure you justify, give sufficient details and break down the costs needed to support your claim;
  • Travel costs: simply use the European Commission’s calculator to select the correct distance band.

Make sure you justify, give sufficient details and break down the costs needed to support your claim.

Key advice

Take feedback on board. Are you resubmitting a previously unsuccessful application? You can do so, if you have made significant changes before you resubmit. Have a look at the initially received feedback and improve the quality of your application. If you are unsure about any aspects of your feedback, simply send us an email for support and we will get back to you within two working days, either by email or telephone.

Do your homework: in order to avoid unnecessary admin work, we encourage you to get a good understanding of the correct application process first. Understanding the administrative formalities and application requirements is essential to ensure smooth project implementation.

You can build this understanding from the application stage by making use of the resources available on our website and YouTube channel. You can complete a Project Outline Form by 14 September 2020 to have a one-to-one discussion with a member of the European Solidarity Corps Team at the UK NA too.

Be clear and consistent in every aspect of your application. Make sure you provide clear and complete information as quality will be prioritised. To know how much information is enough, simply ask yourself if the provided information would sufficiently support the stated claim in your application.

Avoid unnecessary admin work by getting a good understanding of the correct application process first.

Before clicking the ‘submit’ button

The first step when the UK National Agency start to process your application is to check you have adhered to the deadline and that all the necessary documentation has been provided before we send your application to be assessed by external assessors – required annexes are provided online with the application, but not always completed in full or accurately:

  • Provide a full completed Declaration of Honour: ensure all parts are completed, it must be signed by hand by your Legal Representative named in the application form, scanned and attached to the application form. You will be reminded of this before submitting your application. 
  • Provide a completed timetable: a timetable must be completed for each activity and attached as an Annex to the application form. Remember to be consistent with your application form and give examples of activities!
  • Finally, submit before the deadline (11am, UK time): don’t underestimate the importance of the application deadline. Unforeseen circumstances like digital errors could mean you miss the deadline and your application will then be ineligible. Don’t wait until the cut-off point to submit your application – submit your application hours before the deadline, if not the day before.

Unforeseen circumstances like digital errors could mean you miss the deadline, so don't wait until the cut-off point to submit your application.

In summary

  • Take time to get a full grasp of the formal requirements. This will be the kick-off for a smooth project implementation process. 
  • Be consistent and clear on your application. Your project can be scored lower due to inconsistency and ambiguity rather than ineligibility. 
  • Upload all the annexes.
  • Don’t forget the activity timetable, which is mandatory and important in the evaluation process. 
  • Check the latest European Solidarity Corps Guide (2.3 MB), check our tutorials on YouTube and do get in touch with UK National Agency if you still have unanswered questions. 
  • For support in the validation process in respect of an organisation’s eligibility to receive funding, read our previous blog post.

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