At the recent STEP Special Interest Spotlight event, I was delighted to be in a room full of private client advisors who had all signed up for the breakfast session on philanthropy. Read on for my five take-away points from the speakers and discussions.
Congratulations, your hard work has paid off and you have secured a grant. You now need to get on with delivering whatever activity you set out in your bid. But you have another job to do: to maintain the relationship with your funder. Just how much of a relationship you can develop will depend on the size and length of the grant and the nature of the funder.
It must be Autumn as I have started to see various campaigns urging me to write a will and remember a charity (generally a large national one) when I do so. It’s Free Wills Month in October and then there’s Will Aid in November. The awareness campaigns are important as research shows that although 35% of people want to leave money to charity in their will, only 6.3% do. But just how significant is legacy giving?
This brings me to my favourite read so far this year: the report “A Whole New World: Funding & Commissioning in Complexity” from Collaborate (link below). It “challenges the idea that an intervention (project, organisation or programme) can be held accountable for the impacts it makes in the world.” Instead “outcomes are created by people’s interaction with whole systems”. It puts forward the case for a complexity-friendly version of funding which puts people back into the heart of funding approaches.
Philanthropy is often framed as oppositional: either ruled by the heart or by the head. At one extreme, donors are characterised as easily moved by emotive stories and thoughtlessly giving money to whatever causes they care about. At the other end philanthropists are described as dispassionate and objective, keen on impact and effectiveness and looking to scale up social change using business approaches and technology.But of course, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
If philanthropists just fund projects, the risk is that they are weakening the very organisation they want to support. To avoid joining in with this dance, philanthropists can give unrestricted donations for a charity to use on whatever costs they wish. But the desire for a tangible result runs deep, so if you still want to know exactly how your money will be spent, I have a suggestion for you...
It is wonderful that technology allows us to be so easily connected to all the new research and ideas out there, but frustrating that it is so hard to find time to actually digest all this information. Lately I have been working out how best to build reading time in to my week. Assuming this is true for others, I thought I would share my efforts so far
The speech towards the end of the film ‘I Daniel Blake’ included the statement: “I am not a client, a customer, nor a service user”. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of words when used as labels. Anyone who has felt processed when trying to access their rights or a service can relate to how Daniel Blake feels. But exactly what to call ‘the people that a charity is set up to support’ is a problem.
If the external driver for impact measurement dominates, then we could end up with considerable waste as charities spend time gathering data that they don’t use, or implement systems in a token way. As funders, we need to convey the message that, whilst being able to understand the difference a charity makes is important to us, it is even more important that the charity adopts impact measurement systems that are appropriate for their clients and the nature of their work; proportionate to their size and resources; and that helps inform and improve their service delivery.