Ask a Grant Manager – August 2019

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Clare Rance – Grant Manager for the South West

Clare Rance is our Grant Manager for the South West of England. Before joining Lloyds Bank Foundation in April 2016, Clare held Grant Manager roles at Devon and Dorset Community Foundations and delivered local grant programmes on behalf of national funders including the Big Lottery Fund, Comic Relief and the Dulverton Trust.  Previously she has worked in development roles in the public sector with a focus on strategic partnerships and community strategies.  She has spent most of her working life in the West Country and other roles have included District Manager for Oxfam and Researcher at Exeter Archaeology.

When not working she spends time with her young family exploring the local beaches and cycling in the New Forest. This year she did the couch to 5k programme and has just signed up for her second 10k run!


Q: Do you fund community interest organisations?

I’m assuming you are referring to Community Interest Companies (CICs)?

Our approach as a Foundation has always been to support registered charities and more recently Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs).  A registered charity is regulated by the Charity Commission and is required to prepare and submit an annual report and accounts.  Registering as a CIO allows an organisation to be both a charity and a company, with the same reporting requirements as registered charities.  Checking these reports forms an important part of our due diligence process when we are making decisions about whether to invest in an organisation.

Our grant-making processes are reviewed regularly by our trustees. However, as CICs do not have the same robust reporting mechanisms as charities and CIOs, our trustees have decided that the Foundation would not fund them.

 

Q: We are seeking funding to upgrade our IT systems which we rely on to support our volunteers and families and which provides data to help secure funding for our service. Can I apply for a grant for the cost?

The good news is that we do fund IT costs under our core cost grants programme.

If your charity is already funded by us, you are eligible for this type of support under our Enhance programme.  Your Grant Manager would be able to match you with approved providers that could help you to identify your upgrade requirements, to supply and help you implement specific database options and provide IT hardware (PCs, laptops and tablets).  We may also be able to provide you with specific digital support through our Lloyds Banking Group mentoring programme, which might be useful to consider as you work through the upgrade.

If you are not a current grantholder, you can apply for our Enable development grants before 31 August. If you would like to apply for core funding, you will need to wait until our core grants reopen in November before you can check your eligibility and apply. You can sign up here to be notified by email when grants reopen.


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

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National vision starts at a local level

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One year on from the launch of the Community Wealth Fund Alliance, Public Affairs Officer at Lloyds Bank Foundation, Rachel Cain, writes about the importance of putting communities at the heart of key decision-making on how money is spent locally. The idea is gaining traction across the third sector and is backed by 150 organisations. 


As Brexit looms there is a profound need for a positive vision for the future. A movement is building around the idea of a Community Wealth Fund – a national, long-term initiative which starts with communities at a local level.

The Brexit conversation has highlighted and intensified the divisions that exist within communities. The phrase ‘left-behind communities’ is thrown around without much interrogation into its meaning and how to change things for the better – further alienating and dividing communities in the process. We know that there are places which aren’t benefiting from economic growth. We know that there are areas where jobs are scarce and uncertain, and where transport links are lacking. We also know that many communities have lost important social infrastructure – the places to meet which are vital for building the bonds that hold people together. Where is the vision for change?

Small and local charities like the ones we fund are often created with, by and for the communities they exist to serve. They are distinct in how they build trust, act as a foundation for change and take a person-centred approach which allows people to determine what they need to move forward.

These issues play out first and foremost at a local level and this is where change must start. One of the biggest challenges people face is feeling a lack of choice and control to shape and be part of the communities they live in. Civil society has a vital role to play in this. Small and local charities like the ones we fund are often created with, by and for the communities they exist to serve. They are distinct in how they build trust, act as a foundation for change and take a person-centred approach which allows people to determine what they need to move forward. They bring new resources into the community and act as the ‘glue’ which brings people and services together.

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Public Affairs & Programmes Officer Rachel Cain

But even where this community infrastructure exists, it is underfunded and overstretched. Smaller charities in particular have lost up to 44% of their funding from public bodies at a time when demand is rising, leading to closure or reduced services. To realise a positive vision, there needs to be long-term strategic funding, targeted to the communities which need it most.

This is the vision of the Community Wealth Fund. An idea backed by an alliance of voluntary, public and private sector organisations. The campaign is calling for a new multi-billion-pound endowment, created from dormant assets, to invest in the communities where disadvantage is most acute. This fund will provide strategic funding focused on building capacity and infrastructure. The funding could come from the next wave of dormant assets from insurance and pension policies, bonds, stocks and shares, matched with investment from larger companies. Most importantly, local people will lead the way this fund is spent, reflecting  what positive change in their area should look like.

A year since its launch, the Community Wealth Fund Alliance has been backed by 150 organisations across sectors and regions, and the idea is gaining traction. The answer to a positive vision for the future lies with the people who know their community best – they just need the funding and opportunity to put it into action. Read more about the idea, the research behind it and how you can get involved by signing up to join the alliance.

Paul Streets: Look to small charities for reparation-based approaches to rehabilitation

Small and local charities are keen to revamp the government’s failed Transforming Rehabilitation programme and support offenders.

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The Government’s new Prime Minister and cabinet have been appointed with a clear focus on Brexit, but with myriad other tough issues to face in service to their electorate.  One of the more complicated and nuanced is Criminal Justice – a key priority for Lloyds Bank Foundation and the charities we support.

In his final speech as Justice Secretary David Gauke pointed out what those who work with offenders had known for years: ‘if all offenders who currently receive prison sentences of less than six months were given a community order instead, we estimate that there would be around 32,000 fewer proven reoffences a year’. As Robert Buckland takes up the mantle let’s hope he doesn’t leave it till his last month to reach the same conclusions, given that Mr Gauke leaves office with historically high prison numbers: at 92,000 twice that of 1990.

At the Foundation we’re taking a more targeted, upstream approach to justice issues, including working with the Howard League to reduce the number of women arrested, as well as aiming to do more to influence the new probation system being developed. The small charities we work know the flaws and failings of ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ first hand – a venture condemned by the Justice Select Committee in 2018 as having ‘failed to open up the probation market’, or for offering ‘through the gate’ support that was inflexible and ‘merely signposting.’

With so many small and local charities keen to revamp the system it’s not enough to fund them to rehabilitate ex-offenders – it’s time to stem the cycle – to divert and reduce people entering the system in the first place. We’ve had a huge number of expressions of interest from charities to undertake specific work. This reflects the hugely diverse nature of work across the sector, including work focused on specific communities who are over-represented including: BAME groups; Care leavers; Gypsy and Roma communities; or on preventative work and alternative approaches like restorative justice.

In a recent opinion piece from the Economic and Social Research Council Professor Fergus McNeill argues for a better balance between ‘retribution’ and ‘reparation’ based approaches. He notes the truth we see in work we fund – which chimes with David Gauke’s comments that we should ‘look past the offence ‘to the person and the complex needs that contribute to keeping them trapped in a cycles of crime’ – that the ‘wrongdoings’ which result in criminalisation are often associated with wrongs against perpetrators in their earlier lives. One particularly stark observation is that people who were ‘looked after’ by the state as children are 13 times more likely to end up in prison.

Seen in this light, the role of small charities like Leicestershire Cares, which I visited and which works with both care leavers and ex-offenders, is critical in ensuring that people who leave both forms of institutional care get the support they need. Sometimes that’s support for the most simple – but symbolic – of things. One of the prisoners they’d managed to secure employment for told me the thing that made the biggest difference to his life was being able to ‘buy birthday presents for his grandchildren’.

McNeill’s piece notes that whilst offending itself breaks relationships and tears at our social fabric, as with care leavers, the fabric itself is torn because it is already ‘weak and worn thin by these other wrongs’. Given this the repair, like the tear, must be relational. Small local charities like Leicestershire Cares and the West Yorkshire Chaplaincy are best placed to understand this. Let’s hope the new Justice Secretary understands that too when he launches the ‘reformed’ ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ programme.

‘Decision makers must not turn their backs on local domestic abuse experts’

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Business Manager for HARV Amanda Elwen

Hyndburn and Ribble Valley (HARV) Domestic Violence Team is a charity that has been providing services to vulnerable children and families since 1998. Amanda Elwen, Business Manager for HARV, has written an open letter to officials, calling on them to turn their attention to the urgent need within domestic abuse services and to give a voice to specialists on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).

In response to the demand and strain upon domestic violence services, generic victims services were established. Amanda Elwen highlights the shortcomings of such services and the importance of supporting VAWG specialists. Read Amanda’s heartfelt open letter below:

Dear Commissioners, Policy Makers and Decision Makers,

Did I do something wrong? Did I speak too loud? Did I not behave appropriately? Do I not conform to your expectations?

You see, our relationship has deteriorated recently. For the last twenty-five years, I have dedicated my life to supporting thousands of women and children who have suffered abuse. My charities have delivered hundreds of contracts and independent evaluations suggest we have done a good job.

Recently, it seems that you think that you no longer need me and I have to say after 25 years, this hurts a little bit. You had a party the other evening and you didn’t even invite me, you invited lots of your new friends. I’m no longer invited around your table and you don’t even let me have the scraps anymore.

But you still expect me to keep doing what I have always done and sometimes when you need me for something, like an equality impact assessment, you promise me, one day it will get better.

I hang on your promises in the hope that things might change. I stay a little longer in the hope that I may get invited around your table once again. But you don’t call and you leave me with very little option. To survive or not to survive. Well surprise, surprise, we chose survive. You see, when you leave a woman with nothing, you leave them in very dangerous territory. But courage calls to courage everywhere. We survived by developing businesses that generate enough profit to enable us to continue to provide frontline services to women and children.

Let me say that again. In the 21st century, specialist VAWG services have to establish businesses to generate enough profit to then provide women and children with the services that are necessary for them to survive. How many women’s charities have we seen close this year alone? And at a time where demand for our services are greater than ever. Our sector is not valued, and we are being discarded and thrown to the margins. This is about respect. Respect at every level. You see, when women are respected, they do not need protection. If you need heart surgery, you go to a heart surgeon. If you need a tooth extracting, you go to a dentist. If you are raped, violated, coerced, harassed, assaulted, abused, humiliated, forced or exploited then who would you want to help you? If you have nowhere to live and have lost your children as a result of violence who would you want to help you? If it was your sister, mother or wife, who would you want to help them?

The answer is not a generic victims service. The answer is I want the very best, I want the expert, I want the people who understand the complexity of the situation and have the experience to know how to best support me and my family. I want the people who are available when I need them, the people who will fight for justice and stand by my side.

Women and children are still coming to us, the demand for our services haven’t changed and while women and children continue to line up for help, I urge you to find ways to get the VAWG specialists back around the table where key decisions are being made.

Ask A Grant Manager – July 2019

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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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Paul Streets: Small charities moving the dial

It is the grass-roots organisations such as London Friends that often change attitudes, writes our CEO Paul Streets. Paul-Streets-018-20180123103542147

Our sector has always moved societal niche issues to societal norms. And as we celebrate Small Charity Week, it’s worth noting that this always begins in grass-roots organisations responding to unseen need, often through establishing small charities. My recent visit to London Friend near Kings Cross in London was a testament to this.

They achieve all this and very much more with just £400,000, with a staggering 100 volunteers supporting only 11 staff (seven of whom are part-time). This is a great example of the social value per pound that community-led small charities so often add.

It is probably the oldest LGBT charity in the UK. It was established in 1972, only five years after homosexuality was decriminalised. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the community continued to experience significant prejudice, including violence.

Monty Moncrieff, chief executive of London Friend, recalls an era when its front window was frequently bricked. The “Friend” in its name is a reflection of the need it was founded to meet: Fellowship for the Relief of Individuals in Emotional DistressIn three years, it will share its 50th anniversary with Pride and Moncrieff is already planning how it will celebrate.

The charity’s London offices are pretty basic: old furniture, old IT kit and a large area of replastered wall at the back where the damp got in and it has not got round to repainting. But the real work happens in five sexual health and advice centres, where it provides an Antidote programme addressing the adverse consequences of drug dependency and, in particular, the rise of chemsex.

Moncrieff explains that – even more than 50 years after decriminalisation – part of the community still experiences hang-ups about sexual activity and many experience loneliness.

Social media has gone some way towards helping to relieve this by connecting people more easily, but it has also increased the amount of risky sex with strangers. And the rising use in the past decade of drugs such as crystal meth to help people overcome the anxiety often attached has brought with it catastrophic consequences.

This highly addictive and potent drug reduces sexual inhibition, but also has distressing physical and mental health withdrawal symptoms, including heart problems, paranoia, aggression and, in some cases, suicide.

The Antidote programme is one of London Friend’s several offers of support, encompassing psychosocial counselling, alongside one-to-one structured work through a six-week ChemCheck programme and SWAP (Structured Weekend Antidote Programme), an initiative designed to mirror a drug treatment day programme over four weekends, specifically targeting people affected by chemsex.

They achieve all this and very much more with just £400,000, with a staggering 100 volunteers supporting only 11 staff (seven of whom are part-time). This is a great example of the social value per pound that community-led small charities so often add.

As is the embeddedness of London Friend, a charity that has grown and evolved with its service users. This means that, like so many small charities, it is able to reach those whom others can’t, work in ways others don’t and stay engaged when others won’t.

Also, like the 97 per cent of small but vital charities being celebrated this week, it is addressing the issues that so often go unnoticed or unmentioned. It tackles some of the most difficult, complex and sometimes unpopular issues in society, challenging us all to acknowledge, understand and address issues we might prefer to ignore, but which, if left, have the potential to do untold harm to people on the edge of society.

At a time when it’s easy to be gloomy about the UK, London Friend, and tens of thousands of organisations like it, are a reminder of the unseen and valuable national assets in our voluntary sector.

Five things I’ve learnt this year as Head of Grants

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Oliver Williams, Head of Grants – South

Oliver Williams is the Head of Grants – South at Lloyds Bank Foundation. He joined the Foundation in July 2018 from Premiership Rugby, where he looked after the national education, health, social inclusion and capacity building community programmes delivered by England’s professional rugby union clubs.

He previously held roles in small charities and trade unions mainly focused on education, social mobility and youth leadership.


I’ve had an absolute whirlwind of a first year here at the Foundation and have learned plenty. Not only how the office hot water tap works and where Corby is, but also what life is really like for the organisations and people working on the frontline to address complex social issues across England and Wales. There’ve been plenty of lightbulbs switching on, pennies a-dropping and realisations a-dawning, but these are the ones that loom heavy on my mind.

  1. Small charities do the complex stuff that larger charities (and the state) won’t touch

We read all about it in the Value of Small research last year, but the charities we work with really are more impactful, resourceful and responsive than their larger counterparts. I’ve seen and heard this time and again, in lots of different ways, and it makes me very proud to work for a funder with such a strong belief in and commitment to this part of the sector. But it’s not just how small charities work that makes them special, it’s what they do as well. Many of the small charities I’ve seen have been doing extremely complex, long-term, fiddly, sometimes controversial work, with those facing disadvantage at its most acute, that larger charities, let alone the state, simply wouldn’t touch.

  1. The sector is stretched beyond belief

As highlighted in A Quiet Crisis, spend on disadvantage is actually decreasing nationally in spite of rising demand and cost. Most worrying of all, 97% of the reductions have come in the most deprived areas of the country, a fact that is well reflected in what charities in these areas are telling us. Demand is rising, funding is ever harder to secure and the operating environment ever more challenging.

  1. Mental health and wellbeing is something we’re going to need to address

It was on my third day that I first saw a charity CEO in tears, exhausted and overwhelmed with the scale of the need and the challenge of meeting it. It was around week four that I read about the charity who had a third of their team on long-term sick. It’s a worrying trend that we’re all seeing; a sharp increase in workplace stress, long-term sickness and mental health problems amongst both themselves and their teams. It’s a trend that I fear will define the sector over the next five years, which is why we’re already thinking hard about how we can help address this. We won’t be able to do this alone though, so I urge infrastructure organisations, larger charities and funders to join with us to do what we can to support those working on the front-line.

  1. Learning from each other

Yes it’s a cliché. Yes, you could spend your entire working life in the queue for coffee at conferences and seminars and events and roundtables, half-heartedly asking the person in front “and have you had far to come today?”, nodding knowingly as they describe the problems on the branch line from Nuneaton. But sharing our experiences, lessons and perspectives as a sector, being generous with our time, knowledge and skills, is what can truly set us apart from the daftly competitive private sector, or the terminally siloed state. Setting aside the time to learn from each other, should be just as important as core activities, and we as a Foundation are committed to making this as easy and engaging as possible through our Learning and Networks programme.

  1. We really can make things a bit better for small charities

All of this has put us to work thinking about what more we can do to make things easier for small and local charities. We’ve already started to overhaul our processes, making good on our commitment to reduce bureaucracy, and give applicants a much clearer idea of the likelihood of success. We’re also looking hard at Enhance – our funder plus programme designed to support charities to develop, ensuring that it has something to offer everyone, from a volunteer-led community group to a fast-growing refugee support charity.

This is a fascinating, challenging and privileged place to work. The team we’ve got is the best, the resources we have are significant, and the profile we’ve built is powerful. We’ve started to grapple with these themes already, but I’m raring to commit my Difficult Second Year to doing even more.