Roundtable Discussion – 20th September, 12.30pm – 1.45pm @ Tyndallwoods, 29 Woodbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 8BY
Collaboration between funders has been explored over the years as has fostering collaboration between applicants. However, historically grant making approaches have promoted competition based on a view that this drives up quality and cost effectiveness. Interest in collaboration has grown of late as more funders realise that individual efforts may not be enough to address complex social problems, in a climate of reduced funding and public sector cuts.
Stuart Morton, South Birmingham Friends Institute Trust spoke about the approach of a smaller trust in working with other funders jointly and sharing knowledge and information to support how they distribute their funds in an efficient and effective way. Trust is a critical factor in the way they engage with other funders.
Max Rutherford, Barrow Cadbury Trust shared the Trust’s approach to collaboration, which is at the heart of what they do. He reiterated the added value that collaborative approaches can make in situations of addressing complex social problems, such as improving improving policies and practice in the criminal justice system, in a climate of reduced third sector funding and public sector cuts. Max provided a case example – The Child Sexual Exploitation Funders’ Alliance – a groups of 12 charitable funders coming together to bring about a step change in the way child sexual exploitation is dealt with in the UK. A summary of the learning from this collaborative approach can be found here.
Stephna Davis- Watts, Big Lottery spoke about the current journey her organisation is on in making their approach to grant making more person centred and being more collaborative with other funders, applicants and grantees in achieving this. The Big Lottery is in transition and moving towards greater local presence to engage and build relationships with local groups and agencies through their small grants such as Awards for All and Reaching Communities. Part of the organisational cultural change in being collaborative is an acknowledge that they do not know it all and having a level of humility as funders in the way they work with applicants and grantees. There has been pilots in local areas of greater partnership funding – joint action – between funders such as iWill Fund, a pooled fund with government on supporting social action for young people. Another has been with Lloyds Foundation in sharing objectivs and assessment processes for the benefit of grantees. A more local one has been co-ordinating funding and resources at ward level with other independent funders and the public sector in Birmingham (Partnership In Neighbourhoods and Communities hub). There has been other pilots to test out co-designing project ideas with applicants by developing conversations and having a fluid process to assess ideas, as well as bringing several local organisations together to work jointly on accessing funding from the Big Lottery (East Birmingham Collective).