28th Jun 2022
A goal of the Foundation’s strategy published in 2021 is to be even better at supporting the area’s small, local charities and community organisations. Offering more core and long-term funding is a key to this, enabling organisations to respond to changing needs in communities.
Deploying the Foundation’s discretionary funds to support core costs of organisations with a strong track record is one approach being taken. Since 2019, the Foundation has provided over £1m to charities and community organisations that address poverty, mental health and wellbeing, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Core cost grants are typically larger than normal, and often for more than one year. In Berwick-upon-Tweed and the surrounding areas of Northumberland, for example, eight organisations are benefitting from three-year grants of up to £30,000, from the Foundation’s FB & PFB Lough Fund.
The Foundation’s COVID-19 response and recovery funds have also had a flexible focus. The majority of the £2.83m distributed is restricted only to ensure it supports vulnerable groups and helps organisations recover from the pandemic. Beyond that, grant recipients have significant leeway to achieve their goals as they see fit, with inspiring results.
Many Foundation donors are adopting a similar approach as part of their philanthropy. St Anthony’s Youth Education and Support, a young people’s charity in North Tyneside, has received several flexible grants from the Muckle Fund in recent years. Jodie Grieveson, the organisation’s Youth Project Manager, is clear about their value. “Sometimes the restrictions that accompany ‘project grants’ don't allow us to respond to local situations and trends that we identify. They don’t let us instigate projects that result from ideas that our young people have,” she explains. “It can be difficult to explain to them that they have to wait until we hear back from funders before we can get started on something. The Muckle Fund grants are different.”
The donors to the Foundation’s Pea Green Boat Fund have been inspired to take a similar approach and, in 2021, the fund offered unrestricted support to organisations working with young children, including Baby Equipment Loans Service, Acorns North Tyneside, and Family Gateway. Donors are also increasingly willing to support groups on a year-to-year basis, rewarding grantees for their previous impact. The Squires Foundation Fund has made unrestricted grants to North Tyneside Carers Centre for three years in a row, each one based on high-quality feedback from a previous award. Claire Easton from the Carers Centre values this beyond the finances. “This ongoing support has been a real morale booster in these uncertain times, enabling us to provide really responsive services, while giving us the confidence that people believe in what we’re doing,” she says. “The fact that the continuation grants are made on the back of our previous feedback, rather than us having to complete additional application forms, represents a significant reduction of effort, freeing up time that we can better spend on supporting our beneficiaries.”
The Foundation is also increasing support to organisations to build capacity and secure longer-term financing from funders and their own earnings. In 2021, the Foundation’s Growth and Resilience Fund made grants across the North East worth £415,723 to support recipients around business development, service delivery and communications. Acknowledging the benefit of longer-term funding for organisational development, made more vital by the pandemic, the fund gave continuation grants to several organisations supported in previous rounds. One, RT Projects, had received previous funding to restructure and develop a more sustainable business model. The continuation grant from this year is being used to implement the new business plan. That has also been adapted to integrate new ways of working developed during the pandemic.
“We’re pleased to be focusing more on core and longer-term support,” says Adam Lopardo, the Foundation’s Director of Community Relations. “This kind of funding made a huge difference to organisations during the pandemic, both financially and by demonstrating trust. We will be challenging ourselves and other funders to do even more of this in future.”