Written in November 2023 by: Keeva Rooney and Rachel Oglethorpe - with Tracey Fletcher - Peter Minet Trust, Felicia Boshorin - Spring Community Hub and Catriona Finlayson - Stepping Stones
In this series, we ask funders to share their thinking about unrestricted funding – and invite their funded partners to reflect on the difference it makes. In this publication, Peter Minet Trust share how they decided that offering unrestricted funding was right for them, the benefits and their advice for other funders. We hear from their grantees Spring Community Hub and Stepping Stones on why unrestricted funding matters to them.
Our hope is that by seeing unrestricted funding in practice it helps other funders think about how it could work for them and those they support. This work builds upon on our body of research.
You can download the research here.
Our Chair, Tracey Fletcher, fed into conversations at IVAR during the research on delivering funding for Black-led organisations published in January 2024.
Delivering better funding for Black-led organisations and racial justice. Understanding what's needed and taking action (2024)
Written in January 2024 by: Keeva Rooney, Liz Firth
More than 125 funders in the Open and Trusting Grant-making community have made concrete commitments to improving their practice by listening to charities and communities. However, while a more trusting and respectful funding approach does create a foundation for progress, it is not the same as a more equitable one. Although some Black-led and racial justice organisations can point to welcome changes in the funding environment, it is clear that this work has barely begun.
This discussion paper draws on – and directs readers to – research and campaign material from more than 20 Black-led and racial justice organisations, as well learning from funders and IVAR’s own work with organisations in this space. It begins with a brief summary of how Black-led and racial justice organisations experience the funding system, moving on to share some emerging ideas and practices to support better funding. We hope that this will both help to generate new thinking on the practical actions that funders can take to respond to the experience of Black-led and racial justice organisations, and support members of the Open and Trusting community and others who may – because of confidence or awareness or resources or history – find it difficult to initiate change.
Our joint research with United St Saviour's Charity (2018)
Peter Minet Trust and United St Saviour's Charity, a Southwark-based funder, decided to work together in 2018 to explore the value of small grants of £5,000 and under. All of Peter Minet Trust's grants were one-off grants of £5,000.
We both wanted to find out more about the value of large numbers of small grants and undertook a consultation with Rocket Science, an independent consultancy specialising in the voluntary sector. 129 charities and voluntary organisations were surveyed and 22 took part in a workshop.
Key messages: challenges facing grantees
- Local funders are increasingly vital to local charities as demand increases – they fill gaps and fund projects other funders won’t fund, particularly as statutory funding is cut and competition for national funding increases
- Charities said covering core costs was their biggest challenge; for grassroots community organisations this was general fundraising
- Most organisations want core, multi-year funding, but many grassroots, volunteer-led organisations want funding for community one-off events – both types of funding are hard to find at a local level
- Small grants are of real value when they help leverage other funds
- Organisations want United St Saviour's Charity and Peter Minet Trust to provide more than funding – networking, training and advocacy
Key messages: challenges facing funders
- The costs of administering small grants are relatively high in relation to the amounts awarded
- Measuring the impact of the grants is not always easy
- Demand for Peter Minet Trust is increasing and the Trust is oversubscribed, turning down 77% of applications. This is unsustainable for the Trust and an organisational challenge for applicants.
- Grantees value the opportunity to meet and share their work with funders, and funders learn much more about the difference grantees are making by visiting organisations. This is a challenge for Peter Minet due to time constraints.
How Peter Minet Trust responded:
- We know that charities value small grants, but we also know about the urgent need charities have for larger, multi-year grants to cover their core costs.
- We are now awarding a smaller number of larger, multi-year grants for unrestricted funding to smaller charities in based in Lambeth and Southwark. We will develop relationships with charities in a way that isn't possible with large numbers of grants.
- We know this means there are charities we won't be funding any more. However, as a small funder with limited resources, we feel this is the best way to respond to what charities are telling us. We are also working more closely with other local funders to highlight other funds available and develop new funding opportunities.