I’ve been reflecting on funding and grants, and the difference some make… and the lack of impact that others have.
I’ve seen massive benefit from tiny grants when they go to a small community based organisation with a team of volunteers making the most of that money. I also regularly see fantastic work from organisations in receipt of larger grants, where they are really good at delivering to their client group – where they genuinely understand the needs of their clients and have passionate and skilled staff and volunteers making those things happen.
But, I’ve also seen millions of pounds of funding that appears to have very limited impact. In particular, some EU and government schemes involving a LOT of money. Many of these come with ridiculously short timescales and so much bureaucracy that a large proportion of the money gets eaten up within the organisations managing or distributing the funding. The only organisations who get funded are those who are ‘in the know’, and often it’s really hard to tell whether funding is just being used to deliver what they do anyway, or whether it is actually delivering above and beyond their ‘normal’ offer. I have nothing against funding that pays salaries within these organisations, keeping money within local economies moving – but is it the best use of the money?
So, how can social purpose organisations make best use of funding when it is available? How can more organisations be ready to make the most of the opportunities? How can funding be used to really test new ideas, innovation and collaboration? How can those organisations who just ‘get on with things’ benefit when there is money available?
Government and agencies developing new programmes need to make sure their funding really does have impact, really does make a difference for the people they seek to benefit and the processes they put in place do not stifle the innovation, ideas, creativity and collaboration they want to see happen.