Ask A Grant Manager – May 2019

Staff Photo - Sara
Sara Cooney – Grant Manager for London and Surrey

Sara Cooney is our Grant Manager for London and Surrey. Before joining Lloyds Bank Foundation in 2008, Sara held a variety of local and regional roles in grant making and community development.

“The most rewarding part of my work is getting to know the charities I work with. It’s about meeting the people in the charity, learning about how they help their local community and how we can support them through the work of Lloyds Bank Foundation.”

Sara enjoys travelling and is a keen SCUBA diver but doesn’t get into the water as often as she’d like, because she prefers diving in warmer seas. We don’t blame you Sara!

Q: How long after we have received a grant can we reapply? Especially if it’s for core funding rather than project funding?

If you have an existing grant, subject to meeting our current eligibility criteria, you can make a new application in the final year of your grant. If approved before the end of your existing grant, your new grant can begin once your existing grant is completed. As always, we would suggest speaking with your grant manager before making a new application.

Our Invest programme for core funding is currently closed, but we will be reopening with a simplified application process in September. Sign up here to be notified when our grants reopen.

Q: We are a women’s organization championing leadership and governance issues in Kenya. What do you fund?

As the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, we fund small and medium sized charities supporting people experiencing complex social issues within England and Wales. At the moment we do not support work in other countries.

Q: I want to grow the work we’re already doing. Why do I need to keep planning new projects / pilots for funders?

We understand the need for core and existing project funding, and actively encourage other funders to move away from what our CEO Paul Streets memorably called ‘projectitis’. That said, there’s still a place for innovation and new ideas, so we offer both types of funding for charities meeting our eligibility criteria.

No matter what sort of funding you are applying for, we need to see how your charity’s work will meet the needs of your service users and that with your support, people will achieve lasting outcomes and positive changes in their lives.

We appreciate the need for core funding, and funding for projects we already know are making a positive difference.

While it’s not a requirement, piloting new work could help you decide how you deliver the project. It can also help you test different approaches and the level of demand. This provides the basis for planning a longer-term project and helps inform your applications for longer term funding.

Our Enable programme can offer you up to £15,000 to pilot a service in a new area or with a new audience. We are taking applications for this programme until 31st August.

Q: Is ‘local’ always the right unit for reaching the most marginalised? How many times do communities of interest/identity need to be left out of ‘local’ i.e. neighbourhood initiatives before its worth funding across localities to strengthen their voice/influence/power and create responses to their needs?

As an issues-based funder, we support small to medium charities who work with people experiencing complex social issues. We look at different ways to ensure our funding has the greatest possible impact. This may be through supporting charities who are specialists in the services they provide, including those working on local solutions for local problems.

We find that it is often small and medium sized charities which are most successfully reaching and working with the people who are most marginalised and this can include charities which are supporting communities of interest or people experiencing particular issues.

For example, our Transform programme worked with both smaller local charities and larger national charities to influence the conversation around domestic abuse at a national level.

This was also reflected in the independent research The Value of Small which we commissioned which highlighted the distinctive contribution of small and medium sized charities.

Have a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

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Lessons in influencing policy and practice

Rachel Cain, Public Affairs and National Programmes Officer, shares five top tips from Transform project leaders in influencing policy and practice in the domestic and sexual abuse sectors

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What does a good influencing project look like? It’s something we’re thinking about as we’re developing our new Criminal Justice National Programme, and as many Transform projects come to an end.

Transform was our first national programme aimed at influencing policy and practice and has enabled 16 organisations to bring about change in the domestic and sexual abuse sector.

Whether developing a training programme or campaigning for policy change, the impact of these projects have been wide-ranging. Recently, charity leaders from the Transform programme reflected on what they’d learnt, what made their projects a success and how they overcame challenges.

We’ve gathered together their top five tips to help anyone planning a similar project around influencing change:

  1. Be flexible in your approach

Opportunities or challenges in the policy environment, the media or the political sphere can quickly change the landscape in which you are working. Being able to respond and adapt can be crucial to success. For example, the Domestic Abuse Bill was brought to Parliament during the Transform programme and some projects used this opportunity to advocate for better provision for the groups they work with.

There may also be opportunities to capitalise on important media stories on a related topic, or finding ways to work around barriers such as Brexit dominating Parliament. It’s also important to adapt plans in response to feedback from target groups. Consider what has worked well so far and how you can build on this.

  1. Broaden your reach

Whether building a case to influence policy or strengthen your network, success depends on engaging the right people across a range of organisations beyond those you already work with. This can be difficult, particularly when trying to get buy-in from busy people working in charities, public services or government who have conflicting priorities.

Identifying those you haven’t yet reached is a crucial starting point in broadening your reach. It can be a real challenge, for example, to find or connect with people who are affected by an issue but who have never engaged with services before. Consider how you can break down these barriers, and ensure their voices are not otherwise lost in evidence or debates.

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  1. Take the lead from those who have been affected by the issue

Many of the Transform projects have been led by, informed or co-created with victims/survivors. While this can have a number of positives, you also need to tread with care and commitment.

Consider whether your organisation has the capacity to meaningfully engage people, remove barriers to participation, provide necessary support and create safe spaces for people to share and be involved. If not, how can you find the capacity?

Projects that the Foundation has funded under Transform highlighted the need for sensitivity around the issues of domestic and sexual abuse, regardless of who they were working with. In every situation there will be people with a range of different experiences, so these issues should always be approached with care and consideration.

  1. Think early about how to enable others to put your work in to action

Many people reflected on the value of having tools or resources that enable others to put work into action. Plan this as early as possible rather than waiting until the work is done. Ask yourself how you can follow through to ensure a campaign is implemented effectively. Perhaps you might provide briefings so that service users understand their rights and that service providers are held to account in delivering on this. Similarly, if your aim is to get practitioners in other organisations to improve services for a group of people, how could you take it further than a training course? Longer-term engagement and providing tools to help busy people embed a new approach into their organisation whilst managing existing work will lead to more sustainable change.

  1. Build capacity to deal with surprises

Staff turnover and capacity poses one of the biggest challenges to organisations and is often unpredictable and difficult to plan for. However, doing so successfully can have a big impact on progress. Some reported that project schedules slipped due to lengthy academic approval processes while other organisations experienced unanticipated levels of interest, appetite and engagement in their work which, while positive, can put additional demands on capacity.

In building capacity, consider that new aspects of a project will require more time for staff to get up to speed. If working in partnership, have you been clear about roles and responsibilities, and included time for developing and maintaining good working relationships? Tips included building extra flexibility into plans to allow for change and ensuring that your initial proposal accurately reflects the level of resources needed to make the project a success.

Whether you’re interested in our new criminal justice funding or looking to change policy or practice in another area, there are many ways to put this learning into practice when planning your next steps towards influencing change. We’re looking forward to sharing more success and learnings from out Transform programme in the coming months.

About Transform:

Transform is a one-off grants programme launched in 2016 that offered grants worth up to £100,000 over two years, aimed at stimulating innovation and improvements in the domestic and sexual abuse sectors.


Paul Streets: It’s Time We Looked Local

As a sector we need to stop looking always to Westminster and find ways to unite with like-minded and enlightened local authorities writes our CEO Paul Streets.

Staff Photo - Paul Streets
This blog was originally published in Third Sector in March 2019.

I recently visited Manchester and West Yorkshire, where, as well as visiting Lloyds Bank Foundation funded charities, I joined a group of Local Authority leaders in Bradford City Hall, brought together by Locality  as part of the Keep It Local campaign, to understand more about how they can work better with local charities.

The Centre For Cities report was launched on the same day, highlighting the stark truth around how governmental restraint around spending has impacted the poorest people and places hardest, especially in the north. Its findings echo our own ‘Quiet Crisis’ report which shows how the cuts have hit preventive services hardest. It also revealed one welcome finding; the extent to which even cash challenged local authorities have tried to protect the most deprived communities from the worst of the funding cuts – within the confines of restricted budgets.

My conversations in Bradford challenged me to think afresh about how much time national organisations like Lloyds Bank Foundation, and sector leaders in general, spend looking up to Westminster rather than out to city and town halls up and down the country.

The group of Local Authority leaders I met genuinely understand that the sector can play an important role in preventive services. For example, in Bradford, the Local Authority and CCG have built up a good working relationship with The Cellar Trust – one of our grantees –  because they recognise the investment in community-based mental health services is the best way to get round expensive, out of city placements for people with acute mental health needs.

I left recalibrating where the sector should focus our attention. Westminster isn’t going to stop worrying about Brexit anytime soon.

Whether we go ‘hard’ or ‘soft’, the UK’s relationship with Europe is going to dominate years of politics, policy and public debate. Meanwhile everything else is side-lined. In major government departments, huge swathes of staff have been moved away from their policy areas to focus solely on Brexit. Yet there are still important national battles to fight – like what happens to the Shared Prosperity Fund that will replace the European Social Fund and The Dormant Assets fund – which between them could make a massive difference if invested in the local economic infrastructure that has been so denuded – as the devastation of our CVS’s shows.

And as our parliamentary Neros fiddle while Rome burns, Bradford, and its like, burn with the injustices Theresa May committed to quench on the steps of Downing Street. Local Authority leaders, along with tens of thousands of local charities, are beating back the flames, or being engulfed. They share common cause in caring deeply about the people and places where they live and work.  And unlike Whitehall departments, they are more likely to see services focused on people first, not departmental issue-based constructs. They can’t pause for a very deep long breath whilst Westminster waits to catch one or they’ll suffocate. This is as true for Tory East Sussex where I live, as it is for Labour Bradford.

As a sector we need to stop looking always to Westminster and find ways to unite with like-minded and enlightened local authorities to seek action to address the collateral damage delivered by austerity and the obsession with Europe.

It’s time we ‘looked local’, echoing and amplifying the message from local charities and authorities about what is happening to the poorest people on the ground in parliamentary constituencies across the UK.

How ‘Funder Plus’ Development Support can Enhance Your Charity

LloydsBankFoundationEvent28.03.19(©ElyseMarks)_011Since 2014, Lloyds Bank Foundation been working with a range of partners to develop capacity building support for small and local charities, to help them thrive long after their grant has finished. We’ve piloted, tested and expanded this support and commissioned independent evaluations to identify what works and where we can improve.  Our new report, Five years of Funder Plus: Five Things We Have Learned shares our learning.

As part of our report launch, Peter Cunnison, our Grant Manager for the West Midlands, recently sat down with Sonia Roberts, CEO of Landau to chat about how this type of support has changed her organisation.

Peter: Sonia, what do you remember about that initial conversation we had?

Sonia: I’ve always found the relationship I have with Lloyds Bank Foundation via Peter is very honest and open, so it wasn’t difficult to say I needed help and support. Through being able to talk frankly with Peter we identified that I was key to Landau and that made the organisation vulnerable; I didn’t want that to be my legacy. Peter then put me in touch with a consultancy to offer that support.

Peter: “Having these conversations is such a crucial part of the process. It’s also important that if a mentor or consultant doesn’t have the right experience or there isn’t the chemistry, the charity can come and talk to me so we can make sure the support works for them.


What does having access to support like the Enhance capacity building programme mean to a small charity like yours?

Sonia: Having Enhance support from Lloyds Bank Foundation was my first experience of ‘funder plus’ support. What’s so impressive about Enhance is you feel like you’re receiving a high calibre, quality expertise at a 1:1 local level. I felt a sense of responsibility to make sure I utilised that resource effectively because I appreciate that the Foundation is trying to develop Landau. You’re provided with options and then given ownership over the relationship with the consultant, but equally, I know I have Peter’s support if it’s not hitting the mark.

Peter: This can be a challenge for me as a Grant Manager; sometimes charities feel they should say yes and commit to everything. I’ve learnt that building the trust between myself and the charity and then taking the time to identify their needs means they will get the most out of the support.


You had some support around property issues, what difference did this make to you and your charity?

Sonia: I had no experience in property or building management. The Ethical Property Foundation wrote a report about what we should be doing and the stages to get there. If I’m honest, the report itself has been a hugely valuable asset – it brought kudos when I have been sourcing funding, as it adds weight being from a reputable organisation. We wouldn’t even have thought about or had the finances to do this ourselves.


You’ve previously mentioned that being a charity leader can be isolating. How has the programme helped with this?

Sonia: In the charity sector you don’t have a peer support network where you can get that unbiased, impartial advice without the threat of compromising your work, and that gets lonely. One of the areas the Foundation has really supported me is through regional peer forums. I’ve been able to learn from others’ experiences and share my own knowledge to support others in a comfortable and safe space, where I’ve really been able to develop my own and others’ leadership skills.


You’ve also been matched with Lloyds Banking Group mentor, Andrea. How did you find that?

Sonia: We recognised that we could gain a lot from some additional thinking around finance so having access to someone from the ‘banking world’ seemed like a great opportunity, but it was also a chance to bring in someone new and impartial to give an honest opinion about the reputation of Landau. She went on to become a trustee of the charity.

Peter: It’s been a very strategic journey, you’ve understood how to use Enhance to strengthen your charity in a staggered approach, which is so important to its success.


How would you sum up the impact the Enhance capacity building programme has had on you and your team, and what’s the future for Landau?

Sonia: Sustainability in our sector is always difficult, especially in a charity like ours where we challenge the norms. But the support has been like a stepping stone. I have huge ambitions for our second site in Stoke and, as a result of the support, I’m now confident I know how to make it happen.

It’s given us the foundations we needed. At the start of this process, we were like a Christmas tree which was weighted at the top. Today I feel like we are a Christmas tree with the baubles spread across the levels – it’s solid and if the angel at the top falls, the tree will still stand!

If you’d like to learn more about how you can benefit from our capacity building support, please check out our website and speak to your Grant Manager.

Ask A Grant Manager – March 2019

Peter Cunnison – Grant Manager for the West Midlands

Peter Cunnison is our Grant Manager for the West Midlands. He joined us in 2008 from the Big Lottery Fund where he managed grants programmes of all sizes from small grants to multimillion-pound grant portfolios.

Prior to that, Peter worked in the further education sector, establishing educational programmes in communities. He also spent many years engaging in voluntary youth work.

“I like to translate jargon and demystify the grant application process.  I especially enjoy helping charities who find grant applications a bit overwhelming, showing them they can have a positive experience and learn in a constructive way, even if we are not able to fund them.”

Peter is married and the proud father of two (now grown) children.

Q: When are your grants open?

We have two main strands of funding: one for core costs and one for developing your charity.

Enable, our development grants, are always open so you can apply at any time.

Invest, our core cost grants, are currently closed but will be reopening in September, with a simplified application process. Keep checking our Funding Timetable for the latest updates.

If you’d like to learn more about what our Enable grants can help your charity to do, speak to your Grant Manager. If you don’t already know your local Grant Manager, call our Service Delivery Team on 0370 411 1223 and they will put you in touch.

Q: Would love to know if a grant panel would favour a project or core funding?

In fact, we have two separate streams of funding, one for projects and development, and the other for core costs.

As part of our grant application process, we will work with you to think through how we can best help your charity and if you need core or project funding or other types of support. We welcome both types of grant application – neither is preferred.

To qualify for core funding you’ll need to demonstrate that more than 50% of your work supports people experiencing our complex social issues. Otherwise, you’re welcome to apply for project funding. Don’t worry if that sounds complicated, as Grant Managers it’s our job to help you work through that!

We will also be announcing some exciting changes to our funding later this year, designed to make the grant application process much simpler for charities. Watch this space!

Have a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can see the answers. 

Small and specialist services are key to building a #BalanceforBetter – #IWD2019

In our International Women’s Day blog, our Public Affairs and National Programmes Officer, Rachel Cain argues that International Women’s Day is the time to recognise the small and specialist services that support women and help the most vulnerable as build a world where women are not left behind.27355675a9ec18413c62

The theme of International Women’s Day this year is #BalanceforBetter, recognising that we all benefit from a world, community, economy in which there is gender balance, where women are not left behind. From the boardroom to parliament, some progress has been made in recent years, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

This year’s International Women’s Day annual study showed that, across the world, sexual harassment, sexual violence and domestic abuse are still seen as being amongst the most important issues facing women today. In the UK, one in four women have experienced domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and one in five women have experienced some type of sexual assault. How can we address these issues, as part of the wider vision to better balance opportunities across society? Yes, we need to challenge perpetrators and the systems that perpetuate violence and abuse. But we must also make sure women can access the support they need to rebuild their lives.

The expertise of specialist charities also enables them to reach those who might face additional barriers in accessing support – such as women with insecure immigration status, disabilities or other complex needs.

For many, this support is found in small and specialist services. They provide vital, person-centred support in trusting environments for women who have been affected by violence or abuse. Their gender informed approach works for victims and survivors – as evidenced in monitoring reports from the many charities we fund. It also makes sense for the economy too – research by Women’s Resource Centre has shown how women’s specialist services generate significant levels of savings for the state and high levels of social value. Like the charities in our Value of Small research, these charities create spaces where people feel safe and respected, sticking with women for the long term and helping them to navigate other services.

The expertise of specialist charities also enables them to reach those who might face additional barriers in accessing support – such as women with insecure immigration status, disabilities or other complex needs – taking an intersectional approach and working together to overcome the challenges they face.

Women’s lives are complex, so the response they need from specialist organisations is also complex.

But these charities are also at risk. Almost half of the local charities and community groups surveyed by Local Giving said they’d had to dip into their reserves in the last 12 months, at a time when 72% reported an increase in demand for their services. Funding insecurity is the biggest challenge faced by refuges and Imkaan has shown that dedicated ‘by and for’ BME women’s organisations are particularly at risk of losing funding. Smaller, specialist organisations are particularly vulnerable to losing out in the commissioning process due to the shift towards favouring larger, generic providers. That’s why we supported Home Office’s Violence Against Women and Girls Toolkit, showing how commissioning can better work for specialist services, and why we’ve also funded Imkaan, Women’s Aid Federation of England and Welsh Women’s Aid for three years, to support the sustainability of specialist services.

It’s critical that these specialist services can both survive and thrive. Domestic abuse alone costs the economy £66bn per year – and so not investing in these services is a false economy. If women don’t get the support they need, the costs to communities, society and the public purse – and most importantly, to the women themselves – are much greater in the long run.

Women’s lives are complex, so the response they need from specialist organisations is also complex. The importance of this was shown in the Breaking Down the Barriers report recently released by AVA and Agenda, funded through our Transform programme. The report highlights the experiences of the most disadvantaged women who have experienced violence and abuse, who are often also facing wider issues, such as mental health problems, homelessness or contact with the criminal justice system. It highlights the effects of cuts to public services, but most importantly, the report sets out clear, practical recommendations for a more joined up way of working, to ensure that women get the holistic, specialist support they need, at an earlier point. It recognises that, while these issues are complex to resolve, change is possible and we can all play a role in making it happen.

While there are many challenges to be overcome before we can reach a #BalanceforBetter, International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to recognise small and specialist charities who are providing vital support, getting on with the job of working towards this every day.

What charities should be thinking about in the event of a No-Deal Brexit

With Britain’s exit from the European Union just over the horizon and with uncertainty surrounding the Government’s Brexit deal, it can be hard to plan for the future. Our Director of Policy, Communications and Research Duncan Shrubsole looks at what charities need to think about should the threat of a no-deal Brexit become a reality.


Like anyone else in the country, Brexit may be frustrating, inspiring or just bewildering you.

With no clear political way forward in sight, it is increasingly important for charities to think through what the potential implications might be for yourselves, particularly if in less than six weeks we leave the European Union with No-Deal.

The Government has published a series of notices on the potential impacts on their special Brexit website. This covers everything from changes to standards and regulations and what to do if you import or export goods or services from abroad.

As a small charity we would encourage you to think about two issues in particular:

  1. Supporting EU nationals living in the UK – whether your own staff or clients you support, EU citizens will need to apply through the Settled Status Scheme website.The scheme will open fully by 30 March 2019, with a deadline for applying by 30 June 2021 if we leave with the Prime Minister’s current proposed deal. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the deadline for applying will be 31 December 2020.
  2. Food – given the extent to which the UK consumes food from the EU, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, it is highly likely that there may be disruptions to the availability of some food in the event of a No-Deal Brexit and an increase in food prices more broadly. This could have an impact on your beneficiaries, particularly those already struggling to make ends meet, but it could also have an impact on yourselves as charities if your service involves providing food, particularly as more people might be seeking your help. We would, therefore, encourage you to be thinking about what food items you might be able to store now in preparation. If you rely on food being donated from individuals, supermarkets or elsewhere we would encourage you to be talking to those partners now, understanding how they might respond to any shortages or disruption and where possible considering alternative sources of food.

As a funder we’ve supported the Brexit Civil Society Alliance on their work to bring together voices from a wide range of charities to build their capacity to understand and engage in the Brexit process as well as providing some funding to Wales Council for Volutnary Action (WCVA) to capture the particular perspectives of charities in Wales. The Foundation have also been part of a group led by NCVO and the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA) seeking to make and shape the case for the new Shared Prosperity Fund to replace EU funding we’ll lose.

With just weeks to go, the Brexit deal we are likely to get remains unclear. It’s important to be prepared, as small charities like you will play vital roles on the front line when Brexit arrives.

Further Reading