Ask A Grant Manager – July 2019

Staff Photo - Gary
Gary Beharrell – Grant Manger for the East Midlands

Gary is our Grant Manager for the East Midlands. He joined the Foundation in 2002 after working with a local charitable trust and in Higher Education. Previously, he has held roles as diverse as trustee of his local community centre, to his current trusteeships with the Funding Forum and the Association of Charitable Foundations.

Gary’s interests include long-distance walking and music. He has been known to attend a rock gig, after first rehearsing with his local choir!

Gary is passionate about the charitable sector, having been involved in many different ways since he was a teenager.

“I’m often asked to explain the role and put simply its ‘helping the helpers’. The variety of people I meet, the passion they show to help others and the innovation shown never ceases to amaze me. It is a privilege being able to work with such people and constantly learn from them.”


Q: Why does Lloyds set its income limit for applying organisations at £1m?

As part of our initial research for developing our current grantmaking strategy, we looked at this. Our research identified that charities with incomes under £1M were likely to be hardest hit by the current climate of austerity. The cuts to grants funding hit them disproportionately hard, with many unable to enter the tender process.

Through our Value of Small research, we also identified that these smaller charities were more likely to be rooted in their communities, with local trustees and volunteers. Consequently, we have focused our resources on those hardest hit but led locally.

 

Q: In an innovation era, why are grant making trusts always still looking for “checkbox” answers? They always seem to find the same types of projects, for example cafes that offer employability training. Everyone is so weary of change, but shouldn’t we embrace innovation to drive REAL change?

At Lloyds Bank Foundation we have a firm commitment to supporting core costs and don’t require change or seek to drive it. The nature of our grants means charities can look to drive real change as they are the experts and we trust them.

 

Q: As a small charity, we struggle to provide rigorous quantitative data; it’s usually because we don’t know how or what to collect to demonstrate our impact. We can’t afford to pay external agencies to conduct surveys and create reports for us. What’s the best possible way for us to document and evaluate our impact, in a way funders would find ‘appealing’?

Monitoring and demonstrating impact is an essential part of anyone’s work these days. Remember however if done well it isn’t only good for funders, but more importantly, is management information for everyone to monitor how well the charity is performing.

When starting fresh it is never an easy task to work out what to report on and what not to. There is a range of support out there to help you do this.

First, think through the difference or change you wish to make to beneficiaries. Potentially using something like a Theory of Change may give you an idea of things to measure. When you have this there are a number of free tools such as Inspiring Impact and Impactasaurus which provides free monitoring tools and some example questions. The Small Charities Coalition also has a number of guides and other toolkits designed specifically with small charities in mind.

Finally, we fund development opportunities (including monitoring and evaluation) through our Enable programme. We are taking applications until 31 August 2019 so get your applications in soon! Learn more and apply here.


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

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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.


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Ask a Grant Manager – February 2019

Ella
Ella Sips – Grant Manager for the North East.

Ella Sips is our Grant Manager for the North West of England. She joined the Foundation in May 2018 with over 20 years’ experience in the voluntary sector, most recently as CEO of a CVS in Cheshire.

Ella loves the people aspect of her job, especially meeting charities and learning more about how they make a difference to people’s lives.

“Meeting beneficiaries, seeing the amazing work the charities do and playing a small role in helping to make things better is both emotional and humbling. It’s job satisfaction x1,000 in my book!”

While you’d never guess it from her accent, Ella was born in the Netherlands and is a bilingual English and Dutch speaker. When she’s not at work, you can often find Ella putting her engineering background to good use by renovating her house – including doing the plastering and floors herself!


Q: My application for grant was refused as it was not sufficiently holistic in its approach. Could you explain how I can improve my application?

We do offer feedback on unsuccessful grant applications, so please call our Service Delivery Team on 0370 411 1223, and they can help you get more detailed feedback on your specific application.

In more general terms, we are looking for evidence that the charity offers person-centred services. People often come in with a specific issue, but their situation is usually complex. What we look for is that the charity talks to the person and finds out what else is going on and helps the person to address the wider issues. They don’t have to do this all themselves – they can partner with specialist agencies or refer people to their services.

For example, a homelessness charity might see that a service user also mentions relationship, debt, mental health and dependency problems. We’d be looking to see how the charity helps to address these issues, with a planned, progressive approach with their own services, and through their referral pathways to other agencies, rather than just helping the person into short- or long-term accommodation.

For the individual it can seem like a mountain, but charities are very good at breaking these complexities down into little hills and addressing them separately.

Q: We’re currently are in the last 6 months of a 2-year pilot Invest project. We wish to continue our successful project; would we need to reapply?

The simple answer is yes – unless you were originally awarded continuation funding you will need to submit a new application. Our Invest grantees can apply for continuation funding in the last year of their grant. We would also need to see and approve your Year Two Monitoring Report before you apply.

As you are delivering a pilot project, I’d also advise you to have a quick chat with your Grant Manager before you reapply to discuss if this work has generated enough evidence to support an application for further funding. Finally, under our new strategy we have introduced some changes to our funding, please look at our updated guidance and check you are still eligible.

Q: Do you have any plans to open up grant funding to CICs?

As part of our new strategy, we recently reviewed our funding criteria. After thinking long and hard, we decided to continue our focus on small to medium-sized charities as we already have far more demand than we can meet. So, for now we don’t have any plans to open our funding to Community Interest Companies (CICs).

We do however allow CICs to make a joint application with charities, as long as the charity is the lead partner.


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Ask A Grant Manager – January 2019

Mike Lewis is our Grant Manager for Wales. He joined the Lloyds Bank Foundation in 1997 after fourteen years in banking with Lloyds Bank.

mike
Mike Lewis – Grant Manager for Wales

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.


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

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Ask a Grant Manager – November 2018

Marie Hale is our Grant Manager for South Central England.

Marie
Marie Hale – Grant Manager for South Central England

Marie joined Lloyds Bank Foundation in June 2018, having come to us from Trusthouse Charitable Foundation after a varied career as an Intensive Care and Spinal Injuries nurse,and as an accountant.

“My favourite thing about my job is providing developmental support to charities.  That’s why I came to Lloyds Bank Foundation, so I could have long term relationships with charities even after we finish funding them.”

When she is not working, Marie enjoys travelling, walking and spending time with her family.


Q: Would a grant application be more likely to succeed if governance could be independently assessed and verified against a recognised Code of Governance?

A: Because the charities we fund are small, we don’t want to burden them with additional expectations, so this isn’t a key part of our criteria. When we do our initial assessment of grant applications, what we look at are the needs in the local area, how the application addresses the complex social issues we fund, and at how holistic the support you provide is.

That said, we value good governance practice, and this is reviewed at the detailed assessment stage of our application process. We check charities are registered with the Charity Commission, follow the Charity Commission Code of Conduct, and that the charity has at least three trustees and a code of governance.

So, while having good governance is absolutely a good thing, and something we help our grantees with, we don’t require applicants to do more than meet their legal requirements.

 

Q: I was told on the phone in August that the criteria for core funding was changing. In our case we are a pan disabled advocacy organisation, including learning disabled. I was told this was being changed so a pan disabled organisation could apply. However, the criteria were not changed. Are there plans for this to change?

A: Thanks for your question. We updated our criteria in June, and this is available on our website.

For Invest – our core funding programme – 50% of your work needs to be specifically on a complex social issue we fund. In this case, 50% of your organisation’s work needs to be for people with learning disabilities.  So, while as a pan-disability organisation you can apply for our funding, you would need at least half of your work to be with people with learning disabilities.

With all that said, we know that life in a small charity isn’t that simple, so we recommend calling us on 0370 411 1223 and discussing the finer details with your local grant manager.


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Ask a Grant Manager – October 2018

Frances Warwick is our Grant Manager for the East of England and North-East London.

Frances
Frances Warwick – Grant Manager for the East of England and North-East London

She has been with Lloyds Bank Foundation for 18 months, having joined us from her previous work at another trust.  Before that, Frances worked in the Civil Service after beginning her career in the Probation Service.

“I enjoy getting out and meeting charities – actually seeing what they are doing on the ground, meeting beneficiaries and seeing the difference our funded charities make to people’s lives. It’s very inspiring.”

When she’s not working, Frances enjoys cooking and walking her Dachshund, Ruby.

“This morning I walked Ruby and picked some chestnuts for Christmas. When you’re on walks with the dog you tend to find these things especially as I spend most of my time scrambling in the undergrowth to catch her as she darts off after a rabbit!”


Q: As a tiny charity (annual income just under £20K) your current lower income limit prevents us from applying for funding – which previously we used to your complete satisfaction. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary we need your sort of ‘support for small charities’ to maintain our service.

A: We recognise that the work of tiny charities can be really effective too and as part of our new strategy, we’ll be expanding our development support to charities we can’t fund, to help build a more resilient sector.

The reason for our lower income limit around grant funding is primarily because we implement and monitor our grants using measurement criteria that are designed for slightly larger charities and, in our experience, would be overwhelming for charities with an income below £25,000 or wouldn’t assess them in the best way.

Instead in the past, we have run pilot programmes specifically for charities with incomes under our £25,000 lower limit, to explore how we can help them grow, become more robust, or connect with other parts of local infrastructure to work most effectively.

We also do our best to speak up for lower-income charities through our influencing work, gathering evidence about their work to encourage decision makers to review government policy. Through this work we’re giving charities a voice so together we can influence change.

 

Q: Many of the community centres I work with are struggling with finances and are asking if I know of funding pots. Some for the ability to employ a part time cleaner, or Admin, or managers. Other centres have projects they would like to support like holiday hunger through to refurbishing a kitchen to enable greater user use. Are these the sorts of things you would fund if I were to point them in your direction?

A: We really understand that paying the rent and keeping the lights on are the first steps to making sure charities can provide good services. That’s part of the thinking behind our Invest grants which covers service delivery costs. This includes core costs such as staff salaries, although I’m afraid we can’t cover capital costs such as refurbishment. Enable grants fund organisational development and help to strengthen your charity through improving structures and systems, leadership or communications.

Charities applying for our grants need to show they’re supporting people experiencing one or more of the complex social issues we fund. The support provided to people needs be person-centred, holistic and deliver positive change for beneficiaries. It also needs to be ongoing and show progression over time, rather than one-off or casual support such as a drop-in centre or lunch club.

Based on the limited information we have, it’s unlikely that we could support the requests you’ve outlined, but we know it can be hard to show all the complexity of a charity’s work on paper, so feel free to call the team on 0370 411 1223 to chat more about specific requests.

 

Q: If you were recruiting for new trustees what skills would be most useful your work? (Asking as a new-ish Grantmaking Trustee)

A: Every organisation is different, but the skills we look for on our board depend on the balance of skills and attributes our current board members already have, and what the gaps are.  Overall, we look for a diverse range of people with a broad range of experiences, from people with strong charity governance and leadership backgrounds to academics who are expert in the social issues we fund, and senior managers from the Lloyds Banking Group, which funds our work. A strong knowledge of the charity sector, particularly small charities, charity governance and the complex social issues we fund is also needed.

In terms of building your own skills, the same principles apply across charities of all sizes. The skills needed will depend on the individual charity, but we know that for small charities, a flexible approach is key, as they may need to call upon trustees on a more ad-hoc basis. Small charity trustees need to be approachable, supportive and act as a cheerleader to inspire organisations which can be “up against it”. You should also expect to be called upon to give sizable chunks of time and expertise if you can, to help enhance a small team of staff who need outside knowledge of a specific kind to tackle a new challenge.

For people looking for new Trustee experiences, I’d recommend focusing on building skills in areas you already have an interest in and keeping an eye out for the right opportunity. Our new Trustee Recruitment, Selection and Induction toolkit has a handy list of services which match potential trustees and charities.


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

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Ask A Grant Manager – September 2018

Carlos
Carlos Chavez – Grant Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber

Carlos Chavez is our Grant Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber. He joined Lloyds Bank Foundation in March 2018. Before working with us, he was a Grant Manager at the Leeds Community Foundation for almost 12 years. In his spare time, Carlos likes to go on walks with his wife and his dog Narla – although he says his three sons have now outgrown walking with their parents.

“I really enjoy working closely with charities not just to provide resources, but the non-financial element of our work is interesting. Not many charities have the opportunity to access the kind of development support provided by our Enhance programme. The ones we partner with really value the opportunity to network and learn from each other.”


Q: Do you think the current grant making environment encourages organisations to deliver too many light touch/short term interventions so the number of people helped is higher, regardless of whether that help has any long term impact?

A: I would agree with that. Most of the grants available are small and ask charities to achieve quick results. To address complex issues, a longer time is needed.

In some cases, this is good – sometimes charities need quick funds to start projects and keep going. But if you want to achieve long term impact, you need to fund long-term. In fact, our new strategy addresses this issue, we are committing to fund charities for longer and provide more flexibility with our funding.

 

Q: Does the work of a foodbank fit with the qualifying criteria for grant applications?

A: As a stand-alone, the work of a foodbank won’t meet our funding criteria.

However, we would consider funding core costs (including a foodbank) for charities providing holistic support to people experiencing the complex social issues we fund.

For example, we fund Streets2Homes who provide many kinds of support (including washing facilities and a foodbank) to help people experiencing homelessness to find work and accommodation.

 

Q: How can I get Generators and Forklifts Maintenance and sales business setup grant funds from you?

A: This is a more complicated question. We can fund equipment maintenance under our core cost funding, providing you meet our eligibility criteria.  We also have our Enable grants to help charities develop, but these don’t cover fundraising or capital costs such as setting up a social enterprise.

I would recommend getting in touch with your local grant manager to discuss the details of your funding request. If you don’t already have their details, you can call our London office on 0370 411 1223 and they will put you in touch.

 

Q: Do you give grants to charities based in Jersey, Channel Islands?

A: Grants to the Channel Islands are made by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for the Channel Islands. They are a separate organisation and have their own criteria. To find out more, contact Jo Le Poidevin by telephone on 01481 706360 or email jlepoidevin@lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk.


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