Frequently asked questions


How can I improve my chances of getting funding?

Overall, there are two key strands to improving your funding routes:
  • Be clear about *who* and *how* your project is benefiting others and how it may help others achieve their aims. Most environmental projects can have multiple benefits, not just environmentally but also economically and socially. If you can clearly show the range of benefits you stand a better chance of getting better funding.
  • Have a wide network of partners, beneficiaries and stakeholders. This makes it easier to find potential funders and to demonstrate value in more than one dimension. Even if you are not partnering closely on a particular project, you can still help each other find funders or create a better proposal.
Working with partners may not be the easiest approach in the short term as you will probably have to find compromises that meet all of your desired goals and the communication in early days may seem to be slowing you down. However, in the longer term, by having more outcomes from your project, more stakeholders involved, you should find that your project is more resilient to changes around you (i.e. portfolio approach) e.g. if a change in political climate means a different set of ecosystem services are likely to be funded, then your project is already in a place to approach this. Or even if your new partners can’t work with you on this project, together you can share address books and advice on how to improve your schemes and your bids.
Elsewhere in our Funding and Investment Toolkit we outline a few ways in which you can build a strong business case.
  • Identify your local eNGOs/Local Nature Partnerships
  • You can use our opportunity maps to see what large scale/strategic plans exist for your area and whose areas of interest cross yours.
Working with partners may not be the easiest approach in the short term as you will probably have to find compromises that meet all of your desired goals and the communication in early days may seem to be slowing you down. However, in the longer term, by having more outcomes from your project, more stakeholders involved, you should find that your project is more resilient to changes around you (i.e. portfolio approach) e.g. if a change in political climate means a different set of ecosystem services are likely to be funded, then your project is already in a place to approach this. Or even if your new partners can’t work with you on this project, together you can share address books and advice on how to improve your schemes and your bids.
There is good advice out there from other sources too, often more specific than here. For example, the Valuing Nature Network offers three top tips:
  • “Create a ‘pitch book’ and ask financial experts to comment on it. Language and presentation are key.
  • “Focus on the green aspect and the distinguishing factors: do they require a particular treatment / support? What are the particular challenges?”
  • “Combine your project with other projects into a ‘package’ that is sufficiently big for finance and has a spread of environmental, financial and other risks.”

I’m doing good things already. How can I get paid for doing these?

We know many NGOs, farmers and land owners are already doing a lot for the environment – because we know how important the environment is for us and for society – so how can we help you find funding for what you’re already doing?
Firstly, businesses with CSR funding may be interested in helping you maintain the benefits you are providing. In these cases getting funding may just be about approaching local businesses and making a better business case, or it may help to seek partners and widen the scope of your scheme (e.g. including forest schools or getting local communities involved in opening up a scheme for more recreation).
Secondly, if you are currently doing good things, then some companies or eNGOs may be willing to pay you to keep providing them, using a framework known as Payment for Ecosystem Services. Your local LNP may be able to connect you, or look at our case studies to see if a scheme exists near you.
It is important to understand that Nat Cap approaches are not just about identifying areas for improvement, so if you are already managing natural capital in ways which provide multiple benefits (multiple ES) then that is really helpful and perhaps can be captured in case studies to help others do the same. And we certainly wouldn’t want to see any degradation in the natural capital so we would want to identify areas of quality natural capital to support their state.
With this in mind, you may also find it useful to think about framing your good work as helping counteract the pressures on the environment. Our Risks and Issues report outlines these pressures and how they may impact the area.

Who should I talk to about getting funding and investment?

A lot of work has been done to help identify important sources of funding for environmental projects. As this website outlines, there are many different routes of funding, investment and resourcing so not all are relevant.
Some places to start are:
Website with lists of funding sources, national and local. You can set it up to email you updates for the funding sources you are interested in. It also has training and guidance on completing applications and leveraging funding.
Funding central
Website to search for local grant opportunities. Requires registration - free. Limited number of grants listed and not as thorough as funding central.
Grants online local
Website which you can register your project, and it will match it up with funding sources and partners who may also be interested in the project
Space Hive
The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) has refreshed its online platform to intelligently connect you to relevant events, funding, thought pieces and specialist staff to help your business innovate and grow.
Environment Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network
National website for looking for funding sources and partnerships.
Green Funders website
Website to search for funding sources. Subscription fees apply to some of these sources.
Directory of Social Change
Grant finder - subscription and payment required
Grants Online website
Other sources of information include:
Other sources of information include:
  • The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation are a significant source of funds. Their  report on funding opportunities for the natural environment  is aimed at other funders but is a very useful overview of the UK’s situation.
  • The Catchment Based Approach are about helping a wide range of groups help improve the water environment and have a recent report on funding that is focussed on water issues but could be useful for other projects and issues. Their website has a large knowledge base that covers funding and other aspects of their approaches including a guide to finding funds for urban schemes.

I represent a business – how can I help my local environment?

Wonderful! There are many ways to help, including encouraging volunteering or raising awareness, through to funding and resourcing local schemes. Across the country we will see large changes to our environment from a wide range of pressures, including building homes and infrastructure, through to climate change – so the quality of the environment that we appreciate now needs to be managed carefully.
In our Story of the Arc document and our Natural Capital Account we show the ways Natural capital is already providing you with benefits and also how any changes to it (good or bad) may affect you, your business and your workers.
Our opportunities map shows some of the broader/strategic projects across the area. You can find out more about these schemes and how you can get involved here.
Our Risk and issues report outlines the biggest pressures facing the region’s environment and how these are likely to affect us. Many businesses are thinking through how exposed they are to risks from climate change and supporting local schemes to mitigate these risks is a good form of risk management.
Our list of local nature partnerships is another place to start. LNPs are in most counties and exist to help link local environmental NGOs, businesses, people and local authorities. These partnerships have priority lists of schemes they would like to deliver, and we advise you contact your local partnerships to find out more.
Catchment Partnerships always have a pipeline of projects that they are looking to implement, see who is the catchment host for your local area here. Catchment partnerships are groups who coordinate actions around the water environment, helping improve water quality and reduce risks of drought and water supply.
If you want to fund a specific outcome because it impacts on your business, for example food security or climate change resilience, then some organisations help you to link with those people and groups that can provide ES for you – for example, see our case studies with 3Keel in Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire.
Local Enterprise Networks and Growth boards also have a strong commitment to improving the environment so should be able to help link businesses.
How does the environment affect my business?
Obviously that depends on the nature and location of your business, but we do know that many businesses value the quality of life that our environment provides. From the countryside, to green spaces in cities, to rivers, canals, fens and reservoirs, we all appreciate the environment for our leisure and recreation; but we also know that many businesses depend on agriculture and the rural economy. The carbon sequestration of nature, and the air quality benefits, are really important too, even if we don’t notice these. And the clean and plentiful water supply and flood risk management from nature – and of course, how the countryside and cities look is so much shaped by nature and that in turn affects our sense of identify and place.
The Natural Capital Coalition are an international body that encourages the private sector to engage with natural capital approaches and have produced a number of useful products for business. Their Business Case for Natural Capital Assessment describes ways in which the private sector can be affected by changes in the environment and how to assess this for yourself (a natural capital assessment)
Some links between your business and the environment are:
  • A major impact the environment can have on businesses is flooding. This risk varies widely from place to place but the impacts of flooding can be very high, not just if your own property is flooded, but from impacts to supply chains, transport links and your employees
  • You may be looking into carbon offsetting, where you pay an organisation to manage the environment in such a way as to capture carbon that compensates for your own carbon footprint. This is often seen as planting trees, but it could be wetland restoration or other environmental options. You may prefer to find local schemes which combine carbon offsetting with other local benefits such as a community orchard, local water and flood benefits, biodiversity, heritage and recreation.
  • Nature provides us with a lot of wellbeing, particularly if we have good access to it. This is great for your employees, and can also improve productivity and make your business more attractive to potential employees.
  • You and your employees probably place a high value on the environment being in a good condition
  • Our natural capital accounts give a high level view of how environmental assets are providing benefits to people, businesses and society
  • If you are a landowner, you may wish to use natural capital accounting to understand better the wider values of your land. A number of “how to” guides are available, summarised here

How can I get the most from my investment/from my resources?

Environmental projects may be very different to investments you are use to. The following are a few points that may help you navigate through an environmental investment.
  • Be patient. Often environmental outcomes can take a long time to mature – such as tree planting which often takes over 20 years before trees are mature enough to generate their full benefits (of carbon storage, water filtration, air quality, amenity, biodiversity etc). Some schemes can generate benefits straight away, and depending on how they are managed, different benefits over the lifetime of a project.
  • Be tactical. Think about what you want from the scheme, and who else may benefit from this; this may be sharing the same outcome, or benefitting from a different outcome from the same activity. For instance, you may wish to plant trees for carbon sequestration, but these trees could also help lower air quality, improve water quality, improve local biodiversity and reduce flood risk. Depending on how they are ran, a carbon sequestration project could engage local communities and provide recreational, educational and wellbeing benefits. Not only does this provide much more benefit, it spreads the risks of any one benefit stream failing, it also brings in more partners and can also spread the benefits over time better.
  • Be strategic. Many environmental schemes and natural capital approaches may have a relatively small impact on their own but are needed as part of a wider network of schemes – habitat corridors, NFM. Ensuring your projects have a part to play in strategic plans is a good way of maximising their impact. Also, you may need to compromise a bit on one outcome to see multiple benefits from your scheme and the wider landscape.
  • Risk management is needed as with all investments. You need to work with your partners to make sure that the risks are understood and mitigated and managed in a way that understands the environmental risks as well as financial and other project risks. For example, tree planting schemes can be affected by a dry summer in the trees’ early years. Staggered planting and active management really helps but is obviously more expensive. Planting a range of species may be more expensive but lowers the risks of tree losses and helps with biodiversity targets.
  • Adaptive management because of the long-term nature and potentially higher range of risks. This means being flexible and building into your approaches the ability to change, adapt or otherwise respond to emerging opportunities and risks
  • Partnership approaches help by diversifying the outcomes and a wider pool of those managing the risks. A project with multiple outcomes should have less chance of failing to meet them all, than a project with a single outcome.

What do I need to be aware of when working with others?

Environmental projects are usually run by eNGOs or small companies. Their point of view can be very different from the funding organisations. It is really important to see where each side is coming from so that you can work together better. The following sketches out some broad differences:
  • Most day to day focus is working to meet a charity’s specific aims. Fundraising has to be for projects that meet these (e.g. for a species or particular location; or for biodiversity or education)
  • Often staff have background in ecology or related disciplines and have a vast technical knowledge of environments, ecosystems and how they function in different ways, but less training and experience in paperwork and fundraising.
  • Usually value the environment very highly, and can dislike having to justify this in economic terms.
  • Projects often don’t deliver results until 10-25 years
  • Project funding often £10k to <£1M
  • Needs to show owners/shareholders that spending funds appropriately.
  • May have a wider range of CSR projects to choose from.
  • Appreciates the environment but not knowledgeable about details and specifics
  • Very aware of risk management issues – both for the business’ own risks and for the risks involved in any project they invest in or fund.
  • Looks for returns to investment usually over 3-5 years.
  • Financial investments often in the multiple millions of pounds