Hi. I’m Sam Hawkins ( s h )

My Story

The first grant application I worked on was for £2500. It was an Arts Council England National Lottery grant for a one-man-band festival at a venue I worked at in 2006. I wrote a couple of hundred words about marketing for it. I had been working mostly in live music and festivals since 2000, first in Glasgow at university, then in London.

Not long after that first bid, I co-founded the London Word Festival (LWF), which ran for four years. I found myself needing to work out how to raise funds regularly and creatively to try and put on interesting events while keeping a company going. LWF won a Paul Hamlyn Breakthrough award in 2008. I learned some great foundational stuff from that about forecasting, evaluating, and balancing projects across multiple funders, as well as how trusts work and how funding schemes evolve.

I started advising and bid writing for my first clients in 2011, shortly before I moved to Brighton in 2012. I qualified as an FE teacher and ran vocational courses for six years, including some cool youth-led projects such as the first-ever under-20s run Brighton Fringe Venue and the first under-20s run Great Escape Alternative Escape venue. I got a feel for more statutory funding there and got to know some education charities, and I got hands-on with government funders for the first time. Running European Social Fund projects set me up well for future funding work, while having the tightest of budgets taught me a well-timed crowdfunder could make the difference between a project happening or not.

I worked in skills until 2020. COVID was then a real turning point for me. Crazy, horrible times for the type of companies I work with, but also 24 months where I could put my grant skills to real use, and where I honed the approach I bring to fundraising now. I worked on a range of COVID Recovery Funding schemes, particularly working on high-speed grant reviews that I could turn around on demand. It turns out my experience working within all sorts of grant criteria, plus a background in teaching and learning, meant I got really good results helping talented professionals navigate grant writing often for the first time. It showed that detailed, bespoke, support is what I can do fast and do well, and is a key to help all types of applications get better, regardless of the experience level of those writing it. I was delighted to work with some great trade bodies, helping a large number of their members, including the Associations of Independent Festivals and the Music Venues Trust, who I still work with today.

2020 was also when I went to work with the consultancy always possible, learning and working on a lot of business development, strategy, evaluation and theory of change work for all sorts of fascinating clients. A job all about measuring and communicating impact has been invaluable in building skills that help balance business case with funding case. It is also where I managed a two year project supporting small businesses across East Sussex to access £1.3million of capital growth grants as part of the very tail end of the European Regional Development Funding.

I love talking about grant funds and how they work. My starting point is I assume I don’t know everything going into a bid. It keeps me curious to always learn something new and improve through the process of whatever I’m working on.

This has all added up to Hush. Here is where I will develop fast, high quality, clear fundraising support in affordable packages. If my services allow innovative and energetic businesses and charities to spend more time and money on helping society and the economy grow, then things are going in the right direction.

Stats

355

Total number grant applications I’ve worked on

£ 19,290,374

Value of all the grant applications I’ve worked on

£ 14,642,654

Value of successful grant applications I’ve worked on

75.9%

Success rate by value of grant applications

Funders

  • Arts Council England
  • National Lottery Community Fund
  • Forward Foundation
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation
  • PRS Foundation
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
  • Youth Music
  • The Jerwood Foundation
  • BFI Development Fund
  • European Regional Development Fund
  • Creative Scotland
  • Arts Council of Wales
  • Mayor Of London
  • Brighton & Hove City Council
  • East Sussex County Council

Clients

  • The Great Escape
  • Music Venues Trust
  • Association of Independent Festivals
  • Chivaree
  • Vision 9
  • Secret Sundaze
  • Pathways into Music