Post-grant support – walking the talk?

As someone who works for a funding foundation, I can safely say that there’s a lot more to grant-making than distributing money. Of course, being awarded a grant is great news for most organisations but often it’s the follow-on support that can really pay dividends, as some recent feedback received by the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund team at Corra clearly demonstrates:

“The non-financial support from the Corra Foundation is as valuable as the funding received. The events provided by Corra Officers have been extremely beneficial to my role, and have resulted in great networking and sharing opportunities.” (Re-Solv Scotland)

It’s great to get recognition for our efforts, and we are lucky to receive wonderful feedback often. But as a reflective team and organisation, it’s important that, just as funded organisations are required to do, we too objectively review the effectiveness of such support.

The service provided by the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund team, is not the only post-grant support available to grantees. As well as offering a dedicated funding officer for the duration of a charity’s grant, non-financial support from funders can comprise things like venue use, workshops, training, webinars and other events. Some support may be free and some has a cost, and generally, there’s a mix of direct delivery and commissioning of specialists.

Having also fundraised for charities, I know that all these offers of support can become a bit mind-boggling. If you’ve received some funding, you probably think you should do everything on offer, but you’ll soon realise that you just don’t have the time to do this and deliver your services. What can funders do that might be more effective for grantees?

Feedback on the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund team indicates that we’re doing pretty well. An external evaluation last year of our work, as a partner with Scottish Government, made me even more proud when it said,

“Alongside funding, Corra Foundation’s (CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund team) Support and Engagement programme was highlighted as an important factor in improving skills and knowledge.”

Nice words, but we’re not about to rest on our laurels. We’re already exploring how we might get better, and we’re aiming to do this in two ways. Firstly, we’re upping our online offer, already proving to be a hit with partners and grantees. A second step is being actively involved in Corra Foundation’s review of its ‘capacity building support’ across our different teams. Part of this will be sharing the learning the CYPFEIF & ALEC Fund team has acquired in the last four years.

These feel like steps in the right direction, but I sense there is an opportunity to do even more. During the coronavirus crisis there have been many incredible examples of how funders and funded organisations have worked in different ways. Much of this has relied on working in partnership, allowing better use of resources and importantly more effectively reaching people and communities. SCVO’s recent webinar – A conversation with funders  gave an indication of the value of funder collaboration during 2020. Can we translate this into collaboration between funders on post-grant support too?

As the third sector appears to be #NeverMoreNeeded, we funders need to be up for this collaborative challenge, and perhaps even a bit of bravery so that we’re truly walking the talk when it comes to partnership.

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