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Tips on closing a funded project

You have been delivering an externally funded project - here are some tips on things you need to think about towards the end of the project:

Key points

  • Think about the exit strategy for your project as soon as possible
  • Evaluation can be a useful tool, think about how you can use it in your project
  • Be aware of the funders and your organisation's requirements in winding up your project

Exit strategies

By definition external funding is short-term, and you need to give as much thought as early as possible as to what will happen to the project when funding runs out. You should consider:

Capital projects
Who will own the asset once the project is complete? You should identify how future maintenance costs and overheads will be covered.

Revenue projects
Most external funding programmes will not give you more money to do exactly the same project again. It is worth reviewing delivery and looking at some of the following options.

  • Stop delivering the project - as it hasn't worked or has been overtaken by events (or has been so successful it is no longer needed)
  • Stop delivering certain aspects of the project and seek external funding for certain elements from different funders
  • Seek to mainstream bits of the project by working in partnership, having other organisations fund bits of it or having other organisation enhance their deliver to take account of your project
  • Seek to influence how others deliver their projects by sharing some of the best practice that has come out of your project, and encourage them to take on some of your delivery.

Evaluation

Many funders will require you to undertake some degree of evaluation, even if this is not the case, evaluation is a good way to evaluate which bits of the project have worked well, which bits are worth continuing etc. Evaluation can be carried out in 2 ways;

  • By commissioning an external body to undertake an evaluation of your project.
  • By developing an evaluation framework, based on a series of questions, which you will need an answer on.

You should consider:

  • How has the project delivered overall? Was delivery different to the original plan? What are the reasons for this?
  • Did spending meet targets, was it necessary to change expenditure or income from those anticipated at the start?
  • Were there any delays on spending or outputs?
  • Have you met all of the outcomes for your project? Did the project achieve other outcomes worth reporting?
  • Is there anything you would have done differently?
  • What are the key lessons for future delivery?

Funder requirements

The external funder may well have specific requirements in terms of ending your project; they may require a project evaluation, a project report or a financial audit (including an external audit from your organisational external auditor.) Check your offer letter or get advice from the funder on what exactly they will need.

Many funders will need you to maintain project records for a number of years after the project has finished (this is typically up to 7 years.) Make sure the files are clearly labelled with the name of the project and how long they need to be kept for. You may need to go back to the files if the project gets audited after the project has ended.

Winding up the project

Capital projects
You should consider any issues of retention payments and any snagging on physical construction. All agreements/ arrangements for maintenance and ownership should be in place by the end of the capital project.

Revenue projects
If you have employed staff through the project, and no funding is available for them to continue, you will need to take steps to end their time on the project. Staff on fixed-term contracts should be given 90 days notice that their contract is to be ended. For council projects contact your Employee Support and Development contact for further advice.

For further information

Contact the external funding organisation. For council projects contact your relevant finance officer or external funding officer.

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