A Network of Regional Youth Work Units, in England, collaborating across regions to promote good youth work and young people’s voices.
In common with most charities and voluntary sector organisations, we find ourselves spending a whole lot of time lately immersed in the occupation of the completion of masses of paperwork. Other forms of written work we generate will never see paper, but circulate electronically, landing in the inboxes of partner organisations and followers until they have the time to consume the contents and, in time, hit the recycle button consigning them to the virtual afterlife.
Completing application forms of all sorts; reports of all sorts and the dissemination of information of all sorts keeps us busy and helps us to justify to ourselves that we are earning our salaries. At all times we must demonstrate that we are being uber positive. In trying to paint a picture for potential funders, we let them know that our relationships with our partners are deep, strong, and keen. When it comes to managing finances we are smart, lean and mean.
We have noticed a Twitter-like trend in many of the application forms we have been completing of late, to restrict the number of characters allowed in responses, to tiny numbers, which is driving us mad:
I am sure that this has never happened to you, but you know when there is an impending deadline for a particular application? A very, very, impending deadline. So, you agree with yourself to finish off the application at home. Later the glass of wine you have had with your evening meal seems suddenly to have turned into a bottle whilst you have been working on the application. You discover, back at the office in the morning, that the bits you thought you had cut and pasted, you have actually pasted and cut. Page seven seems to have migrated to page two. You don’t understand a word you have written. You have rambled completely off -topic and there is no logic or sense to any of it. However, you have no time to go over the text and put things right because the deadline is 10am and it is now 9.50am. You have no option. So you just attach the Frankenstein document you have created and press submit. And that’s the application which is successful. The one you did two weeks ago to different funders, for a different project, which you spent weeks and weeks meticulously developing, checking and double checking and which you then got everyone you know to give you feedback on before submission, is the one that sunk without trace.
If you are taking an application home tonight, please don’t read the above. Have a good weekend.
Youth Work Unit – Yorkshire and Humber