Lunch at the Launch

Lunch at the Launch

Today saw the first public day of the NI Open, on our doorstep here at the Galgorm Estate, so the LEXXER Team took a break to soak up the spirit of the event, and to meet potential new clients. Mixing business with pleasure we got into the swing of it, as minds were focussed on the best course for local golf clubs to take to up their game. In the run up to the NI Open we have been looking at the Golf Tourism market for a client and realised that local clubs were missing out in millions of pounds of funding and support. 

The research we conducted looked at the policy frame work surrounding Northern Ireland Golf, as well as the plans for the future. The official  Tourism Strategy sets the ambitious target as

To grow the value of golf tourism from the current estimate of £33m p.a. to £50m p.a. by 2020

Central to this strategy is the objective to – Develop stronger clubs, however there is little guidance to show how this will be done. 

LEXXER conducted research and found that local clubs are backbone of the Golf Sector yet they are being ignored in terms of government funding.  There are 94 golf courses in Northern Ireland, of which 31 are quality-assured by Tourism Northern Ireland. Of these, two are amongst the best-quality golf courses in the world: trophy courses which the international golfing community wants to play. A number of our other courses also have the potential to be trophy courses in the near future with the right investment and innovation.

There are 88 golf clubs, here with 31 are quality assured. This again shows that the majority of clubs are not participating in the official bench marking process and stand outside the main schemes set up to assist them. This is due to a range of reasons, many of which are not down to the individual clubs. They do not see the benefit, they are not constituted to take advantage of the schemes or the funding around them, they have their own traditional ways of doing things, the bureaucracy and paperwork involved outweigh any potential benefits.

Whatever the reason the result is the same – clubs are not benefiting from the support and funding they should be getting.  They rely on fees and local sponsorship, which is a constant drain on members and friends. However with falling membership figures, and revenue many clubs are facing difficulties, and they need to look at alternative sources of revenue and membership

We have so much to offer in terms of golf tourism with a variety of choices – links and parkland – at different pricing bands. Internationally we have earned our reputation for links courses, and the home grown talent that is

McIlroy, McDowell and Clarke.
 The next decade is the window for local clubs to take advantage of our time in the sun.

However there are obstacles to development and accessing funding. The majority of courses are private members’ clubs, often with restricted visitor access, especially at weekends, with key times of day reserved for members.  As an external consultant we are willing to ask the hard questions to start the difficult questions and to sponsor the change needed. Clubs such as Galgorm have benefitted from this sort of approach as they retain an exclusive experience without excluding anyone.

This week as the public descends on the course and estate we see what golf can be, a popular, international, family, community sport which allows the club to win. So the key issue with the clubs is which ones are willing, or might be in the future, to generate additional revenue from participating in the golf tourism market, and to increase access to their facilities as part of a strategic community engagement and membership programme as well as investing in the future in terms of their members and their facilities.

This week LEXXER Solutions will be Opening their doors to the golfing world, as they offer free consultations to clubs. As you experience what success looks like at Galgorm, come and speak to one of the team today to see what we can do for your club.


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LEXXER Solutions Opens New Office

LEXXER Solutions Opens New Office

Office with a view

Office with a view

One of the benefits of being a knowmad is you never know where your office will be for the day. 

LEXXER staff and consultants are often embedded with clients or out meeting them. From churches to community halls, city centre offices to courts we aim to make meetings comfortable and convenient. 

But not every office has the view we enjoyed today, in the sun overlooking the beautiful north coast. So if you are as comfortable on a surf board as you are meeting the board, then consider a career with us. 

This summer we will be offered a number of placements for the right students or post grads, so speak to us and let’s see what you know! 

We can’t promise that it will be every day at the beach but we believe work shouldn’t mean being chained to a desk! 

Political Leaders Fiddle and Flute while Stormont Burns

Political Leaders Fiddle and Flute while Stormont Burns

The recent swift collapse of Stormont has taken many by surprise however the seeds of discontent, and the signs of fundamental problems can be traced back to a number of key events. The end of the very personal relationship which much of the DUP-Sinn Fein alliance is founded upon. That along with the evaporation of much of the novelty media support, and general goodwill has for the first time allowed the media and public to start to see beyond the spin and question the substance. Finally the gulf in policy identified by the BREXIT debate exhausted the reserves of good will between the main parties.

The one shocking aspect of the collapse was its speed and the inability of the parties of government to meet and resolve matters arrogance and intransigence appeared the order of the day as each retreated to their respective trenches. Recriminations over Irish language, and flute band funding seemed to highlight the level of the debate. For months perhaps years these parties had sustained each other in government largely by misdirecting their own communities attention away from the actions of the other. The death throws of Stormont saw a return to the tribal politics of the past, as neither party appeared willing to save the day. They did indeed fiddle and flute their own old party tunes as Stormont was consumed by the fires of the renewable heating scandal.

The demise unfolded over weeks and has now set the country on course for an election, on 2 March to elect a new Assembly after the executive collapsed. Ironically it was the ‘orange’ mishandling of green energy scheme, that brought it down. Previous ‘Stormonts’ as in 1972 have collapsed due to bomb and bullet not boilers and bullying, or in 1974 after strikes and stoppages not due to energy schemes and special advisors. This indeed has been a petty and ignominious end to this present Stormont.

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire was legally obliged to call the election after negotiations failed, following the crisis created after the resignation of Martin McGuinness as deputy first minister..

The catalyst was the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which is likely to cost taxpayers £490m, and which exposed just how far from democratic and accountable our present system of government is.

Mr McGuinness resigned last Monday after DUP leader Arlene Foster refused to stand aside as first minster while an investigation was carried out into RHI. Due to the nature of the joint office, his resignation automatically ended the Executive. A seven-day period of negotiation whereby if a deal was not reached, an election would have to be called, was ended when Sinn Fein refused to nominate another deputy first Minister



In last May’s election, the DUP and Sinn Féin were the largest and second largest parties elected. In this snap election, there will be a fall in the number of Stormont seats from 108 to 90.

Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies will return five MLAs (Members of the Legislative Assembly) each, not six as has previously been the case. The number of MLAs has been cut in order to reduce the cost of politics.

Graphic showing NI Assembly Election 2 March 2017


Deadlines – The Downside of Funding

Deadlines – The Downside of Funding

The New Year started for LEXXER with an impending deadline, a number of clients were applying for the Victims and Survivors Service Grants and we were happy to assist. Our funding services make applications as easy as A…B…C….

We offer a range of professional fundraising and funding services to help turn your ideals in actual projects, and your visions into funded reality. So speak to one of the team today, whether it is a capital project, a programme of events or training, a festival or community activity we will help you develop it and promote it to a funder.

Lets make the crisis of missed deadlines a thing of the past, and a new years resolution to plan ahead, to make funding a priority and to ensure that applications are planned in advance. So speak to one of the team today to book in your application before its too late.



Our main services relating to funding applications are:

A.B.C. 1 – Application and Bid Completion

Developing a vision into a project, or completing an application for funding for an existing project or programme. The service will work with your staff or committee to produce a bespoke application or bid based on the funding criteria, and with any accompanying documentation such as policies.


A.B.C. 2 – Application and Bid Checker

An oversight and mentoring service which works with your own in-house fundraisers, or funding experts to improve applications and bids produced. The service can provide advice, support, interventions or undertake specific aspects of the application process. It can also assess applications and bids independently based on the specific funder criteria and extensive knowledge of the sectors involved and specific funders and what they want and need.


A.B.C. 3 – Application and Bid Calendar

As part of our funding consultancy services we use our own, and a range of grants foundations and other funding databases such as ‘GrantTracker’ to match your organisation, firm or group and its work and ongoing or planned projects to existing and exciting new funds and grants. We produce a calendar which will ensure that you never miss an important deadline and that the various funding streams can be choreographed to support your development and sustainability.


A.B.C. 4 – Application and Bid Champion

In our experience the majority of problems groups face in applying for money is the anonymous faceless nature of application process. Funders know little about applicants and any attempt to research the wider context of projects usually draws a blank. Therefore to strengthen applications we work with committees, boards and communities to develop their skills and capacity to champion their own applications. Raising profile, following up applications and ensuring that there is a voice to add to the written word helps applications become winning applications.


Looking Forward to 2017

Looking Forward to 2017

At LEXXER Solutions we look forward to 2017 and the new relationships and successes, and even challenges shared with new and existing clients. It is always a good time to take stock of the years that has passed and to look forward to the next twelve months and beyond.

So we would wish all our clients and consultants and contractors a Happy New Year, and a very prosperous 2017.

NEVERENDUM – The Worst Possible Result

NEVERENDUM – The Worst Possible Result

The High Court ruling has thrown the government’s plans for Brexit into turmoil and with it the economic uncertainty and political crisis continues to grow. The case for further parliamentary scrutiny is strong and constitutionally the case for its necessity has been accepted by the courts.

However in real terms the country appears to be caught in a sort of constitutional-political-economic state of paralysis. The clear will of the people has been questioned in Scotland and Northern Ireland with some even questioning whether the UK will remain intact after its exit.

The whole issue has become something of a Neverendum with the course set for a Supreme Court Challenge, followed by months of uncertainty. With a total rethink of the negotiating strategy, the potential of a snap general election and the prospect of a longer  time scale the real losers will be the people. The uncertainty will cause socio-economic problems and a range of problems for businesses and organisations.

Let LEXXER Solutions help you navigate the uncertain waters and to Know How to suceed.   

Don’t Waste Your Time

Don’t Waste Your Time

Our friends at Third Sector have said what we have all been thinking but find it hard to say to clients – Don’t waste your time. Funding is a little like dating you may fall in love with a fund or trust and assume they will find your project and application simply irresistible however it is often unrequited. So like modern dating sites and apps there are often quite mechanical processes to see if you are compatible.

At LEXXER Solutions we often have to have that hard conversation and say ‘ its not them its actually you!’. However unlike real life dating you can change, you can get in shape you can reorganise yourself and sell yourself better. Then it may just be love at first sight!

Like dating there are some fundamental errors which we should all avoid, and the Third Sector team have summarised some of them.

The top 10 funding application errors

Many charities see their applications for funding be rejected
Many charities see their applications for funding be rejected

The Directory of Social Change estimates that ineligible applications made to the largest trusts in 2010 equated to seven years of wasted effort. This pointless exertion seems not to have lessened since then. According to the latest figures from the Big Lottery Fund, 46 per cent of applications to its Reaching Communities programme between May and July this year were ineligible. So where are charities going wrong? We asked funders to share their thoughts on why so many applications end up in the recycling bin.

1. Applying for grants you can’t possibly get

“If only they had read our eligibility criteria, they would clearly see we don’t fund that” is a perennial complaint from funders. Stephen Pittam, trust secretary of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which largely funds work that promotes peace and social justice, says: “We get applications to repair churches in East Anglia. We don’t fund in East Anglia and we don’t do building work on churches.”

The trust also gets a lot of applications from people who want to run welfare projects, even though it clearly states in its entry criteria that it does not fund such schemes.

Comic Relief has received applications on behalf of an HIV project in Tanzania for a fund that operates only in Stoke-on-Trent. The Big Lottery Fund has received applications to fund the installation of double glazing in houses.

2. Asking for too much money. Or not enough

Receiving applications for unrealistic sums of money is another bugbear of funders. Andy Winder, grants team manager at the Henry Smith Charity, a funder that tackles social and economic disadvantage, says its average grant size is about £80,000, but that does not stop organisations asking for a lot more. “People come and ask for £500,000,” he says. But the opposite can also be also true, according to Gilly Green, head of UK grants at Comic Relief. Some applicants ask for less money than they need in the mistaken belief that this will increase their chances of success. “It’s an assumption that’s not correct,” she says.

3. Providing too much information

The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust requests applications of no more than four pages, but has regularly received bids of more than double that length. “People often send in reams of paper,” says Pittam. John Taylor, head of the west midlands region at the Big Lottery Fund, says that it often receives applications that include appendices, photographs or additional reports. The funder has to go back to the charity to get it to resend the application, which only causes delay.

4. Avoid jargon and buzz words

Charities may be tempted to throw in a few of the latest buzz words or phrases, such as ‘localism’ or the ‘big society’, in their funding applications. The hope is that this will give them an edge – but it won’t. The BLF’s Taylor says: “It often hides what they are trying to do.” A reliance on acronyms also confuses. Taylor advises charities to apply in their own language. “Don’t feel that you’ve got to use a language you’re not used to,” he says.

5. Streams of consciousness and other stylistic problems

Funders may want charities to apply in their own words, but they still need to make sure those words are readable. Trusts are regularly faced with what Winder calls a “wall of words”. Funders work to deadlines and are often looking at 40 or 50 applications a week. Winder says: “Assessors are reading loads of applications and they often get confronted with something that has no paragraphs, really long sentences and very dense text. You look at it and think: ‘Oh my God.'” It is a good idea to ask someone not connected with your organisation to read your grant applications before they are sent to ensure they make sense.

6. The budget doesn’t add up

At the Institute of Fundraising’s recent National Convention, the suggestion that funding bids often contain budgets that don’t add up provoked consternation. But funders say that simple errors are surprisingly common. For example, a budget is itemised, detailing all the costs that the charity envisages, but the final amount has been added up wrongly. This isn’t always because charities can’t use calculators but because costs are amended – by, for example, the chief executive – and the final amount asked for remains unaltered.

7. An invitation to talk to the funder isn’t taken up

Large funders welcome phone calls to discuss potential projects. “We don’t want to waste people’s time,” says Pittam. “It’s always better to try to get a sense of whether something is going to be a possibility or not.” Despite requesting a prior conversation about all applications above £120,000, Green says that Comic Relief still gets unsolicited applications for projects requesting hundreds of thousands of pounds. She says: “If we’d had a conversation, we might have said we are quite interested in your work, but we are not going to fund you at that level.”

8. Forgetting to tailor the application to the funder

In the current harsh economic climate, charities are applying to ever more trusts and foundations to provide funding for their work. But in too many cases they’re not tailoring the applications to the individual funder. BLF’s Taylor says: “They are just using the same information, almost cutting and pasting it onto different application forms without actually looking at the questions the funder is asking.

“I can understand why that happens, but it actually means their application is less likely to be successful.”

9. Assuming the funder knows all about you

You and your colleagues may know all about your charity and its aims, but don’t expect the outside world to know what you do. Too many charities make the assumption that the funder is familiar with their work, or they are so engrossed in the work they do that they forgot to provide a basic explanation. Taylor says: “My sense is that people are often very passionate about their project and therefore don’t describe the very basic things about who the beneficiaries are, what the project does, how they do it and what impact they have. They are so close to it that they almost take too much for granted.” Green warns that assuming funders have knowledge of your work is a dangerous thing.

10. What difference will you make?

Where applications often disappoint, say funders, is in the elaboration of the change they hope to bring about. According to the BLF, the main reason applications are rejected lies in failing to show how the lives of beneficiaries will be improved. Pittam says: “So many applicants don’t give an explanation about the strategy for achieving change or a clear indication of what they are trying to achieve.” Funders want a cohesive story, says Green, including evidence of demand for a charity’s services and the outcomes it will create. “Very often the latter parts just fall away,” she says.


… but funders are not without fault

According to a book published in March, charities waste more than £100m a year on making duplicated or unnecessary reports to foundation and government funders. Caroline Fiennes, director of donor consultancy Giving Evidence and author of It Ain’t What You Give, It’s The Way That You Give It, says a quarter of the estimated £410m charities spend on reporting to funders is unnecessary expenditure. Sue Robinson, a trainer with the Institute of Fundraising and former fundraiser with Sense Scotland, says that EU funds and some Big Lottery Fund grant streams ask for receipts for every item. “If you’re claiming for volunteer expenses, you have to show the bus ticket,” she says. “It’s ludicrous. If you have a large sum of money you almost have to employ someone purely to administer the budget.”

Robinson argues that good funding bids from charities that have good track records are sometimes rejected because funders don’t think that they have the administrative staff or software to manage the funds. She says: “They’ve invested their money in meeting the need they were set up to meet, but dealing with those big funders requires you to have a robust back office.

So if you want to find true funding love and make lots of little projects together come and see our matchmaking …… we mean our fundraising team today!


Knowledge at Work

Knowledge at Work

Today’s release of the Expert Panel’s Report headed by Rafael Bengoa shows how knowledge brokerage works on a grand scale.
Bringing international academic and expert knowledge to provide solutions for the crisis in health care represents the best possible approach.

The Tests for Test Cases

The Tests for Test Cases

LEXXER Law works within the wider context of a knowledge brokerage and can bring to bear a wider range of insights and ideas to its litigation strategies.
Many clients see litigation as the means and the end with their ‘day in court’ as the objective. However we see litigation as one battle in a larger war and as a result we approach it holistically.

If litigation is a key component then the crucial questions will be which case should be pursued and when and how it should be launched. 

The Litigating for Social Change Cinference hosted in Belfast addressed just this point and will inform our work entitled: The Tests for Test Cases. 

This toolkit will help communities charities and causes guidance on how to approach Test Cases and which issues best lend themselves to strategic litigation. 

How are Cases identified and selected, what ground work is required and which tactics need to be deployed and what should be avoided.