If you run a grassroots organisation and have been around for a decade or so, you would be experiencing the fallout of the changing strategies of funders.
The landscape is unrecognisable from ten years ago. Funders, donors and stakeholders have overhauled the way grants are awarded, almost eliminating core funding under the guise of misuse of funds. The favoured approach is now project funding.
However, we also know that what is considered ‘misuse’ to the funder is ‘well used’ to the recipient. The conundrum is that funders need evidence of outputs and outcomes, but the grassroots organisations just want to do what they do best – deliver a service. Let us not forget that there has been a degree of ‘misuse’, but should the level of this ‘misuse’ necessitated a total overhaul? Surely not.
Now the grassroots organisations who are our main clients are calling for a comeback of core funding. And it has to be said that some funders are responding – but only up to a point. It is simple – most funders will only award grants equivalent to a certain percentage of the annual turnover of the organisation.
So for example if the turnover is £30,000, the organisation can only access up to £5,000. It is called managing risks. But whilst funders are concerned with the risk to themselves, they are neglecting, or even causing, risks to the organisations they aim to support. What about the risks to survival of the organisations that are doing excellent work in the community?
Changing strategies have also impacted organisations’ efficiency, and thus how much they require to operate. Five thousand pounds went a long way when groups had stable, regular volunteers, but government policies have seen the demise of volunteering. If you can volunteer, you are fit for work so go and work! There is sense in this reasoning. But it means that organisations now have to rely more upon paid staff.
So, having gone full circle, we now need to go back to the funders, with one loud voice and say, “Bring back core funding so that we can fill the former volunteering opportunities with paid jobs. Support us to deliver well and we will give you your outcomes. Help us manage our risks and your risks will be reduced”.
The Brixton Groups Network have said that we need to put core funding firmly on the agenda of funding networks and forums and tell them to just bring back core funding and let grassroots do what they do best – deliver a service!