It will come as no surprise that funding has been at the top of the agenda over the last few months. Since the beginning of lockdown, visits to SCVO’s online funding search, Funding Scotland, have increased by 50% from the same period last year and funding continues to be the top search on our Coronavirus Third Sector Information Hub.
For much of the voluntary sector, the last few months have seen a huge change to the funding landscape. With some funders having to suspend grant making due to lockdown restrictions and others diverting resources to emergency funding, normal grant cycles have changed, as have the needs of the sector.
A key part of my role at SCVO is keeping Funding Scotland up to date. Since the beginning of lockdown in March, I have seen the criteria change on hundreds of funds and added over 120 new funds, 78 of which have been Covid-19 response funds.
Now that the initial emergency period is over, many fundraisers have been left wondering‘what’s next?’. While there is still much uncertainty, we can share some of our observations from Funding Scotland:
Funders are regrouping to consider next steps and moving into the recovery phase, supporting organisations to reopen services and be more sustainable
A lot of funders are now looking at how best to move from emergency support to helping organisations recover, using insights from the last few months to direct their next steps.
We have already seen the reopening of the Community Response, Recovery and Resilience Fund which has shifted its focus to the recovery and reopening phase and The Scottish Government has recently announced a £25 million Community and Third Sector Recovery Programme.
Others are looking back at their grant making over the last few months and learning from this as they move into the next phase. For example, Corra Foundation have produced some insights into their thinking going forward – centred around more relationship-based grant making and flexibility.
There has been great flexibility from funders which looks set to continue
One of the most positive responses from funders has been an increase in flexibility, be that providing unrestricted grants, extending projects or allowing for changes to project activity. It has allowed organisations to adapt to ever changing circumstances and keep doing their fantastic work through continued uncertainty.
As highlighted by Corra Foundation in their insights paper, it is vital that this flexibility continues. The Gannochy Trust and The William Grant Foundation are just two of the many funders who are offering flexibility around timescales and how funding is used.
Covid-19 is still firmly on the agenda
With social distancing rules likely to continue restricting activity for the foreseeable future and the effects of the pandemic still being acutely felt by communities, many funders are updating their criteria.
The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust for example have continued with their funding priorities but have added additional criteria that focuses support on Covid-19 responses. Meanwhile The True Colours Trust have adapted their small grants scheme for the next round which will now focus on helping organisations adapt to the new situation or resume services safely.
For the National Lottery Community Fund, Covid-19 has meant major strategic changes including keeping currently funding programmes open for an extra 18-24 months. Some funds will remain unchanged whilst others will be more focused on Covid-19 recovery.
If your charity or voluntary group is looking for funding, visit Funding Scotland where you can find details of over 850 open funds.