Build Up

Build Up – Laying the foundation for success

What do Build Up do?

Build Up runs practical construction projects for young people aged 10–23 to design and build structures in their local communities. They give young people the opportunity to run and manage construction sites, make real decisions and see the real-life impact they can have. Working locally in schools, community centres and playgrounds, Build Up enables young people to take on roles and skills they’ve never had access to before.

“Initially, one thing we didn’t put much time into, and have knowledge of, was looking out for eligible funds that we could apply for. This is something that A5cend really helped us with. They’ve continuously kept us in the loop so we always hear about all the relevant funds.”

The challenges they were facing

Build Up launched in 2014, but for the first year they were operating from hand to mouth and were not officially registered as an organisation. They faced the difficult challenge of trying to secure money for things they wanted to do, and convincing people and funders to back them and their work. With limited knowledge of the third sector, the board and staff team lacked familiarity with the language and way of working of the charity and grant-making sector, and therefore found it difficult to navigate relationships with funders and to secure pots of money as a result.

How A5cend helped with their development

A5cend supported Build Up in 4 key areas; governance, strategy, funding and evaluation. Their first task was to get the company legal status as an organisation. They helped them set up as a charity in 2015, putting together constitutions, starting an official framework, and developing a core funding strategy soon after.

We then supported Build Up to target various suitable funders for projects and core costs, successfully winning grants which later led to a successful multi-year funding application, which enabled Build up to increase and expand as an organisation. We were also extremely successful in developing a letter appeal for the charity which still brings in funds annually. Off the back of one of these appeals, a meeting was organised with Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants, who reached out to their members and through their network, managed to secure £70k worth of tools, materials and equipment for their project.

In the early stages of our partnership, A5cend worked closely with Build Up on their first ever evaluation of several pilot projects, which provided them with a resource that they were able to use for the next 4 years to document and evidence what it is that they do. More recently, and with a flexible approach, A5cend have supported smaller evaluation systems required by grant-makers that have funded Build Up’s local projects, and assisted them with putting together a business plan, setting the groundwork for future activities and expansion.

In the Spring and Summer of 2020, it was crucial that we identified pots of money that had a focus on the impacts of Covid-19 for charities and community organisations, securing emergency funding for Build Up at a time when they needed it the most. 

Services delivered:


Organisational strength-review

Fundraising strategy

Funding bids revenue and core

 Large scale capital fundraising planning


“A5cend have built our capacity, given us knowledge and helped us navigate funding processes and relationships, all in a way which allows us to do what we need to do as an organisation, whilst also meeting external demands.”

By securing key pots of funding for Build Up over recent years and working closely with them to shape the organisation, A5cend have helped the charity grow, become visible and nationally known. The grants created a so-called ‘domino effect’, attracting further investment from foundations that awarded the team with a development grant at a crucial point in the organisation’s growth, as well as commissions from local authorities and larger charities.

Build Up’s partnership with A5cend has also seen them establish bid writing skills, enabling them to produce and submit their own funding applications independently. Furthermore, the staff have become comfortable with formally managing budgets and finance, a crucial tool for their professional management both now and going forward.

“We have sought the advice of A5cend on an ongoing basis. We trust them and respect their knowledge, intuition and understanding of the sector. As a small charity, we found they get what we are up against, and can support in a way that really helps us move our work with young people forward.”