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50 funders sign pledge to be open & trusting in their grant-making

50 funders sign pledge to be open & trusting in their grant-making

A campaign has launched today (11 February) calling on funders to adopt simpler, more flexible practices that make life easier for those they fund, in light of the ongoing uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

The Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR), in collaboration with London Funders and a group of UK foundations and charities are behind the new campaign.

The goals

They are asking funders to commit to being more open and trusting by making grants in a way that reflects the realities facing VCSE and other civil society organisations now and for the foreseeable future, and managing grants in a way that reflects their confidence in and respect for the organisations
they fund.

These two goals provide the framework for eight, actionable commitments, with the ambition to see these commitments extend beyond the crisis and become standard practice in the sector.

The commitments

1. Don’t waste time – funders will be open, transparent and clear about all of their priorities,
requirements and exclusions.
2. Ask relevant questions – funders will test their application forms to ensure clarity,
relevance and avoid repetition, only collecting information that genuinely informs a funding
decision.
3. Accept risk – funders will clearly explain how risk is assessed and be realistic about how
much assurance applicants can provide.
4. Act with urgency – funders will aim to make decisions as quickly as possible by publishing
and sticking to timeframes to ensure they work at a pace that meets the needs of
applicants.
5. Be open – funders will provide feedback, including reasons for rejections. They will analyse
and share relevant data, including publishing success rates.
6. Enable flexibility – funders will aim to give unrestricted funding; where they can’t (or are a
specialist funder), they will ensure their funding is as flexible as possible.
7. Communicate with purpose – a funders contact is positive and purposeful. They will be
realistic about their time commitments.
8. Be proportionate – funders will ensure that their formal reporting requirements are well
understood, proportionate and meaningful.

Eliza Buckley, Head of Research at IVAR said:

“When people say “it took a pandemic for the value of unrestricted income and light touch reporting to be felt by trusts and foundations”, it brings home how hard it is to achieve deep and meaningful change. Together, we seek to translate words – ‘trust’, ‘speed’, ‘light touch’ – into visible, practical and durable changes to behaviour and practice. To turn things upside down, so the burden falls on funders to ensure that their systems and their processes are truly simple, respectful and inclusive.”

The pledge is built on the stand by the sector statement, led by London Funders, which over 400
funders signed – in recognition of the impact that the Covid-19 outbreak continues to have on civil
society groups, and to provide assurance that they stand with the sector at this time.

For funders who sign up to the eight commitments, IVAR is creating a community for dialogue,
debate and challenge on the details of day-to-day practice, involving both funders and charities.
The pledge complements other work aiming to influence change – both in funder practice and
improving relationships between charities and funders, such as ACF’s Stronger Foundations
initiative. IVAR will continue to collaborate with ACF and others active in this space to ensure work is
complementary.

James Banks, Chief Executive at London Funders said:

“We are proud to join with our friends at IVAR and across the funding community to call for the achievements of 2020 to strengthen our work for the future. Over 400 organisations signed our ‘We stand with the sector’ statement at the start of the crisis, and we believe that the eight funder commitments are the natural next step to take for funders who have already pledged to adapt activities, be financially flexible, and to listen. We encourage all of our members to sign up to the commitments, and to make practical changes where necessary, so that together we can enable our communities to thrive.”

50 independent funders across the four nations of the UK have already signed up, with IVAR, its partners and networks calling for more funders to join them in adopting the eight commitments, sharing how they will bring them to life, and joining a community of practice with other funders and charities to adapt and improve practice together.

Funders and those they fund are also invited to join in in championing these commitments and
engaging with the campaign as it progresses using the hashtag #FlexibleFunders and tagging @IVAR_UK.

The 50 funders in full:

Cripplegate Foundation

Peabody Charitable Trust

AB Charitable Trust

The Access to Justice Foundation

The Allen Lane Foundation

Ballinger Charitable Trust

Barrow Cadbury Trust

CareTech foundation

Cattanach

Charterhouse in Southwark

City Bridge Trust

Community Foundation Northern for Ireland

Corra Foundation

Devon Community Foundation

Do-It Foundation

East End Community Foundation

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation

Haberdashers’ Company

Halifax Foundation

Harpur Trust

Jerwood Arts

John Ellerman Foundation

John Lyon’s Charity

Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust

The Legal Education Foundation

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales

Mercers’ Company

Millfield House Foundation

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

Pears Foundation

Peter Minet Trust

Pilgrim Trust

Southwark Charities

Spirit of 2012 Trust

Texel Foundation

The Blue Thread

The Bromley Trust

The Postlethwaite Music Foundation

The Robertson Trust

The Tudor Trust

Two Ridings Charitable Foundation

United St Saviour’s Charity

Walcot Foundation

William Grant Foundation

Youth Music

Social Investment Business

London Community Foundation

Kensington and Chelsea Foundation

Co-op Foundation

The Wolfson Foundation

 

 

 

The Legal Education Foundation

 

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales

 

Mercers’ Company

 

Millfield House Foundation

 

Paul Hamlyn Foundation

 

Pears Foundation

 

Peter Minet Trust

 

Pilgrim Trust

 

Southwark Charities

 

Spirit of 2012 Trust

 

Texel Foundation

 

The Blue Thread

 

The Bromley Trust

 

The Postlethwaite Music Foundation

 

The Robertson Trust

 

The Tudor Trust

 

Two Ridings Charitable Foundation

 

United St Saviour’s Charity

 

Walcot Foundation

 

William Grant Foundation

 

Youth Music

 

Social Investment Business

 

London Community Foundation

 

Kensington and Chelsea Foundation

 

Co-op Foundation

 

The Wolfson Foundation

 

 

 

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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