Empower Your Community Digitally!

Looking for support to improve how your business uses digital to develop and grow?

Powering Up is a programme for community businesses who need support shifting from an emergency mindset to investing in future planning. Our ambition is to support you as community business leaders, and your teams, as you embark on developing or growing your organisation. Powering Up supports community businesses in the key areas of digital growth, zero carbon and sustainability, and financial resilience, with a cross cutting theme of diversity, equity and inclusion.

The initial phase of the programme focuses on community businesses looking to learn how digital skills could help their business develop and grow. Other support areas will be included in the programme during 2022. The Powering Up programme will run for a total of four years with multiple rounds of funding.

The tailored support package for community businesses is worth up to £20,000 in total, and includes:

  • Paid access to support providers (up to £9,000) who are brokered in to meet the specific needs of your community businesses over a 12-month period.
  • Professional development and wellbeing support (up to £3,000) such as leadership coaching, peer mentor, and mental health support. This support can be drawn down over the 12-month period of support.
  • An £8,000 unrestricted grant to support you as a community business leader, and your team, to engage in the required support of the programme. This could be to cover your time, back fill a post, purchase essential equipment, or cover other expenditure that enables growth of your community business.

Who Can Apply
Locally rooted community business that are operating and registered in England can apply.

To be eligible, applicants must be:

  • Incorporated. This could be as a company with Companies House, a society with the Financial Conduct Authority, or a Charitable Incorporated Organisation with the Charity Commission.
  • Trading for at least 12 months and provide accounts as evidence.
  • Able to dedicate a minimum of 12 days (over the next 12 months) of their time or a team members time to engage with the support being offered in this programme.
  • Seeking support to improve how their business uses digital to develop and grow.

Priority will be given to community businesses in the most deprived areas of England, as well as organisations that are led or predominantly working in communities with a high percentage of minoritised ethnicity.

Organisations can also use the Powering Up eligibility checker to see if they are eligible to apply.

Eligible Expenditure
The support package will be tailored to each community business depending on the needs of their organisation.

Successful applicants will be allocated a Community Business Connector to start initial conversations and complete a diagnostic or undergo a discovery phase to understand their specific support needs. Together they will co-produce an initial business development support plan (including professional development and wellbeing support) and start to broker in the relevant support providers.

Community businesses can expect the following digital support:

  • Support to develop their approach to digital to help make the services their business provides for the community more efficient, effective, widely available and profitable.
  • Support to transform any and all aspects of their business and the experience of the users they serve, as well as the people and facilities that help them do that.
  • Help to use design-thinking techniques which enable them to move to a new digital offering, including moving service delivery and income streams online.
  • Website optimisation and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) improvement.
  • Support to improve or embed booking, resource management, event or relationship management systems.
  • Support with systems and processes to improve Knowledge and Information Management.
  • Learn from peers and others on how to use digital tools in order to repurpose (elements of) this for their own community business for a quick and cost-effective solution.

The financial and business support offer includes:

  • Business skills advice.
  • Human resources advice on topics such as employment, redundancy, working arrangements, etc.
  • Health & safety advice on topics such as Covid-19 compliance, safe and secure buildings, staff and visitors management, etc.
  • Financial planning support, including managing cashflow and debt within the business.
  • Business planning in changing times.
  • Change/crisis management.

The professional development and wellbeing support offer includes:

  • Coaching for personal and professional development.
  • Leadership team coaching and support.
  • Peer to peer mentoring – provided by community business leaders.
  • Resilience and wellbeing – provided by partners such as Bird.

Apply today for the First Round HERE

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