Toolkit launched to support communities attract start-up funds and small grants through smartphone video-making

'Facilitation toolkit: supporting community groups to build capacity and create video proposals

Make it Grow, a Knowledge Exchange project based at the University of Sheffield’s Institute for Sustainable Food, has launched a digital toolkit to assist communities in creating their own video proposals to attract start-up funds, small grants and wider network-based support. 

Supported by the UKRI's Economic and Social Research Council, Make it Grow’s toolkit encourages video-makers to think about lighting, sound and basic video editing, as well as learning about project planning and pitching a proposal. 

The toolkit contains a series of carefully designed steps to support practical, collaborative learning for effective video-making. 

The project, led by Dr Pamela Richardson and Professor Peter Jackson from the University’s Department of Geography, focuses on building supportive learning groups, celebrating creativity, seeking inclusivity, and fostering self-awareness and reflexivity. 

Participatory video proposals involve community members as active co-creators, generating transformative group knowledge for action and capacity building. In comparison to written grant proposals, videos are a compelling tool to support crowdfunding campaigns, for sharing on social media platforms, or for sending directly to targeted donors. 

Video proposals are commonly recognised as being more informative and persuasive than written proposals, while also being more accessible and inclusive for grant applicants who may lack writing skills. 

The Facilitation Toolkit focuses on smartphone video-making so that the process can be possible for any community group that has access to a smartphone and the internet. 

Make it Grow pioneered an approach to remote online participatory videos during the Covid-19 pandemic, revealing the potential for community learning and engagement across distances. This is especially valuable due to the increased demand for remote interaction between research partners and communities.

The project collaborated with nearly 40 different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community-based organisations (CBOs) in Zimbabwe, organising five online courses with different cohorts of 10-14 participants. Over 60 individuals took part over the months and 16 video proposals were completed by November 2021. 

Team members from the Make it Grow project team and participants from previous cohorts of the workshop series, online to launch the facilitation toolkit.
Team members from the Make it Grow project team and participants from previous cohorts of the workshop series, online to launch the facilitation toolkit.

The toolkit provides resources, such as help sheets and demos, to support local facilitators and enable community group members to create video proposals. It uses a 12-session format which can take place over 6 to 12 weeks, depending on the group’s availability.

The process can also be condensed into an intensive 6-day workshop, but it is recommended to take time between each session so that participants have time to practice their video-making. This also allows project ideas to be clearly thought out and agreed upon.

A project participant and Gateway Zimbabwe fellow, Mr Cosmas Sunguro from Chiadzwa Village said of Make it Grow: “The project was a real eye-opener, a success in the sense that we went on to acquire skills and make videos and it didn’t end there; we managed to secure some funding to kickstart our project.”

To access a free PDF of the Make it Grow facilitation toolkit, please email to request a copy.

Make it Grow is currently exploring the potential for scaling the project beyond Zimbabwe and is open to workshop commissions; contact Pamela Richardson at to enquire about procuring a bespoke workshop series for your organisation.