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Finding the Funding

Financial and staff resources are important components to maintaining successful twinning links. Where there is no dedicated twinning budget available, local authorities and community groups need to be creative and innovative in finding the resources to support an international partnership.

With pressures on local government budgets, twinning activities must be able to demonstrate clear benefits, for example, linking to statutory services such as social services or education.

Resources can be found in a variety of ways.

Legal limits

In relation to overall local authority expenditure, most international projects are low cost activities. However, it is important to be aware of the legal guidelines relating to expenditure. The Local Government (Overseas Assistance) Act 1993 sets out the maximum an authority can spend. For town twinning activities, the limit is set at twice the amount spent, or budgeted for, in the previous financial year.

European Commission funding programme: Europe for Citizens

The main source of funding for town twinning is the European Commission twinning programme, established in 1989. In 2007, a radical change has resulted in the grant becoming part of a wider funding programme entitled Europe for Citizens.

Contributions in kind

Although a blank cheque is helpful in funding activities, contributions in kind should not be underestimated and may be easier to obtain than hard cash. They can include the use of premises and venues; administrative help, including photocopying and postal services; refreshments; transport; speakers; tours of local businesses; reduced entrance to museums and entertainment venues; and discounts in restaurants and shops.

Sponsorship

For many businesses, small and large, contributing to the local community is important and some businesses already have their own community strategy. To attract sponsorship for a twinning link, it is necessary to provide information about activities in a clear, concise format. Promotional material shouldn't be too long and it should be eye catching and interesting. The aims and objectives of the project should be explained and the benefits and beneficiaries detailed.

Businesses need to understand what they may gain by providing sponsorship. This may include increased publicity through the use of the corporate logo on the twinning association's printed materials, sports shirts, banners etc or the opportunity to publicise this support in promotional materials, in-house magazines and the local press.

Fundraising

Although fundraising requires imagination and effort, the rewards can more than outweigh the input. In addition to providing financial resources, activities can promote the partnership, helping to attract more participants. Events can also increase knowledge about overseas partners and bring different groups of people within a community closer together. Popular fundraising activities include wine tasting, themed dinners, quizzes, language classes and selling related produce.

This is the fifth of a series of articles about twinning published by the Local Government Association (LGA) on their website. The original can be found here Copyright in this article belongs to the Euoropean and International Division of the Local Government Association who have very kindly given us permission to use it, for which we thank them.