Mike Lewis is our Grant Manager for Wales. He joined the Lloyds Bank Foundation in 1997 after fourteen years in banking with Lloyds Bank.
As anyone who knows him can tell you, Mike is passionate about two things: the voluntary sector and Wales! Apart from his work with us, Mike has held roles as a trustee with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, as the Wales representative of the UK grants committee with Comic Relief and has chaired the Wales Funders Forum.
“I’m often asked what I enjoy most about my role? That’s easy. It’s all about meeting and supporting people. From individuals who lead small local charities to beneficiaries who are committed to turning their own lives around. It’s an honour to work for an organisation that aims to help people get to a better place.”
Mike enjoys living in mid Wales and speaks fluent Welsh.
Q: Why is the foundation focussed on “local” charitable activity when the virtual world abolishes geography and allows development of communities?
At Lloyds Bank Foundation we’re very aware of the potential for digital technologies to build and strengthen communities (of geography and of interest), and we support charity sector digital initiatives, such as the Charity Digital Code. As our CEO Paul Streets recently shared, digital does have a place in charities, especially in reducing administrative and “back office” workloads, freeing up staff and volunteers to do what they do best – providing support to people in need.
We know from our research that small and local charities are best placed to deliver the in-depth, person centred, holistic and targeted support that people experiencing the complex social issues we fund need. This kind of intensive support should ideally take place locally to the people who need it. Additionally, the most vulnerable people in society, the people our charities help, are some of the hardest to reach and may not have regular access to the internet and its virtual communities.
So, while we think digital technology can be extremely beneficial for communities and charities, it isn’t a replacement for holistic, person centred support in the local community.
Q: As a small, local charity, it is easy to get excited about the operations side of things and the life-changing differences we make for our beneficiaries!!! But we have found that applying for funding from charitable trusts has helped us to identify where we have room for improvement, by requiring that we show copies of some of our governance documents. This has motivated us to prioritise governance and to focus on not just doing good but being a good charity too.
So, my question is: In your experience as Grant Managers, what are the areas of governance that you feel could be focused on more by grant holders from small-to-medium charities?
Good question! As a Grants Manager, I am acutely aware of the many legal, regulatory, financial, quality, safeguarding, risk and procedural requirements placed on charities. Combined, meeting these requirements can be extremely daunting, particularly for smaller charities.
From my point of view, the starting point of good governance is a good board. This begins at the recruitment stage, continues through ongoing training and should even include reviews with 360 degree feedback to ensure the board are performing.
Although it’s not just about having the policies but also how they are implemented, and kept up to date. For example,. As a Grant Manager I need to feel confident that the applicant organisation has effective safeguarding practice in place, I’ll ask how it’s safeguarding policy is used and reviewed to be confident that it is effectively understood and put into practice across the organisation. I might ask when was your safeguarding policy last discussed at Board level or how many safeguarding incidents you’re reported in the last few months.
Personally, I have always found the Charity Commission ‘CC’ guides a very useful reference point, especially those that focus on governance, like their guide for trustees. The guides are conveniently structured with things you ‘must’ do by law, and things you ‘should’ do to ensure good practice.
Q: We had our previous application refused because our accounts were not on the Charity Commission site. This has now been done, can we resubmit existing claim or do we have to resubmit? Thank you
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to resubmit your existing application and will need to make a new one. To save yourself some time, you can access your original application through your online account and copy relevant answers across.
If you originally applied to the Enable programme you can make a new application at any time, if you applied for an Invest grant you can apply when the next round is open.
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