Sally Dyson looks at how funders have been responding to the ever-growing challenge
Funds for organisations are tight and getting tighter.
The issues they are facing are at least equal to if not more than those experienced as the pandemic lockdown began to stretch out before us.
The current economic landscape is seeing organisations facing a combination of some or all the following - and probably more than I’ve highlighted here:
- an increase in numbers of people needed services and support,
- an increase in the complexity of problems being faced,
- increased energy bills and overheads,
- and staff and volunteer wellbeing being affected by all the above (and their own circumstances).
We’re delighted that a range of independent funders are stepping up and publicly sharing how they are going to support voluntary organisations, charities and community groups. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is calling for all funders, independent and statutory, to identify what they can do to support organisations at this time and to talk about it publicly.
Bank of Scotland Foundation led the way by announcing that it is offering uplifts to existing grant-holders as well as increasing their grant budget by £600,000 to help even more organisations. More information can be found in its August newsletter.
More recently BBC Children in Need announced that for the first time it will be funding organisational core costs.
Following conversations with a range of funders, we know that many are working hard behind the scenes to support organisations in a range of different ways.
Here are some of the changes that we know independent funders are making:
- unrestricted top-ups for grants that fall either in this current financial year or in future years,
- increasing grant-making budgets,
- having more detailed conversations with applicants at grant assessment stage focused on ensuring budgets are sufficient,
- greater flexibility with current grant-holders and bringing in support from external consultants where appropriate,
- ensuring that communications are clear that resilience-focused projects are welcome
- and giving additional training to ensure that frontline staff have the skills to have the right type of conversations.
Alongside this we know that they are also looking at other measures including:
- making new awards that focus specifically on helping people at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis
- and taking as many restrictions from grants as possible so that organisations can flex the money towards what they need when they need it.
In our conversations two things shone through:
1 – Organisations stepped up significantly when the pandemic hit and are doing so again. This inevitably leads to greater amounts of stress being put on volunteers and staff members and an increased risk of burn-out.
2 – Funders are acutely aware that many organisations are trying to get back on track following the pandemic and have now been hit with an increased demand on their services from people with increasingly complex needs whilst looking at how they are going to make their own books balance.
As ever, advice from SCVO is to talk to your current funders first and early about what they can do differently to support your organisation. If you’d like to share your experiences, please contact email@example.com.
Sally Dyson is SCVO’s head of digital and development.