Time to Move On From Emergency Funding Say VCSE Leaders

Time to Move On From Emergency Funding Say VCSE Leaders

It is now time to move back to more conventional cycles of funding and away from the demands of applying for and issuing short-term emergency grants, a new briefing from The Institute for Voluntary Action Research has found.

The Institute has been producing regular briefings on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during Covid-19, based on what it is hearing through the online peer support sessions it is running for VCSE leaders. The latest, Between a rock and a hard place is published today, Monday 17 August.

In it, it reveals that VCSE leaders now see the idea of linear progression in funding from emergency to recovery and then to renewal becoming unhelpful as restrictions are tightened in virus hot spots, with a difficult winter predicted, and medical solutions to Covid-19 not yet been found.

However, both funders and VCSE organisations need to move on from the demands of applying for and distributing six-month grants, and the challenge is now to move back to more conventional cycles of one, three and even five-year funding, without losing the urgency and lightness of touch that has characterised the immediate response by so many.

According to the briefing, at the forefront of VCSE leaders’ minds are:

  1. Staff and personal welfare, with comments including: ‘Our clients are really suffering at the moment, which means staff are hearing difficult stories and clients are becoming harder to help – they are starting to take their frustrations out on our staff more, which is very hard.’
  2. Navigating the easing of lockdown: ‘Like many others, we’ve come out of the crisis phase and we’ve survived it. But planning for increasing capacity with physical distancing, infection prevention and having control measures in place is going to make our services very, very limited.’
  3. Long-term strategy: ‘The support that clients will need in six months will not be what they normally need. We are having to rethink our strategy for the long term.’

The briefing also shares what VCSE leaders say they most need, with the top three being: access to peer support, supportive funding structures, and collaboration and cross-sector engagement.

As well as moving on from short-term funding, the briefing calls for funders to develop and prioritise:

  • Trust: by selecting organisations whose values and ambitions align with their own and then backing their knowledge, experience and skills.
  • Flexible funding, with trust best expressed through genuinely unrestricted funding, which grantees can use as they see fit in response to changing circumstances.
  • Support: by respecting organisations’ own analysis of their needs and circumstances, and funding them to create the capacity to engage with and use support, and giving them the freedom to decline it, if the timing or focus isn’t right for them

The briefing can be read in full on the Institute’s site.

Source: Fundraising UK

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