Accessing external funding
How to go about accessing external funding for public engagement
Public engagement remains a key priority for many funders including those inside and outside academia, which means that there are a number of funding avenues available. For those supporting engagement within their institutions, it is critical to understand the funding landscape.
There are currently three main sources of funding to support public engagement:
Public engagement specific funding
There are many sources of public engagement funding that you may wish to apply for, or signpost to your staff and students. Many of these are from higher education funders, however there are a significant number of other places where you can look to gain support for your work.
UKRI expects researchers to generate societal impact through their research, and public engagement is promoted by them as one ‘pathway’ through which such impact can be achieved:
- The REF: Public engagement is encouraged in the Research Excellence Framework.Given the value of having 4 star impact case studies, those supporting engagement within their institution can use this as a basis for championing investment into engaged ways of working from their QR funding.
- UKRI no longer require Pathways to Impact statements, but they do encourage applicants to use the case for support to describe the impact and engagement activities they are planning as part of their proposal, and to include costs for this in the budget they submit
- The KEF: Public and Community Engagement is featured as one of the seven perspectives in the Knowledge Exchange Framework. Although the KEF is not currently linked to funding, many HEIs use KE funding (like the HEIF fund in England) to invest in public engagement.
Institutions have a range of funding sources that could be used to support engagement. For example:
- HEIF: The Higher Education Innovation Fund is administered by UKRI to many English HEIs to support knowledge exchange activity, including public engagement. Some universities use this funding to support their engagement work.
- Civic Mission: HEFCW have a fund to support civic mission activities in HEIs in Wales, and many draw on this funding to invest in their public engagement.
- ISSF: some institutions receive funding from the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund which encourages institutions to invest in areas of strategic importance, which could include embedding effective public engagement into the fabric of the institution.
- Alumni: institutions often fundraise from their alumni – some universities have chosen to use this income to fund their engagement work.