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Set up by Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, the Growth and Resilience Fund is a partnership with NorthStar Foundation, County Durham Community Foundation and Mercers’ Charitable Foundation. The aim of the fund is to support excellent charities and social enterprise organisations wanting to change, survive, adapt, and grow in order to better address need in their communities. It does this through a package of funding and other support including pro-bono advice, and support and training.
One group that has benefitted from the fund and strongly delivered on these aims is Teesdale Day Clubs who were one of the first grantees receiving £20,000. In March 2019 the fund supported the employment of a Strategic Manager to develop and implement a funding strategy but also to look at the organisation and implement an organisational restructure. The overall aim was to put the organisation in a better place structurally alongside a clear income strategy to deliver greater financially resilience. In the year following their grant award that work has – so far – helped them weather the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis.
Strategic Manager Andrea Hobbs explains:
“The restructure led to greater clarity within the team about leadership and functional management enabling us to move forwards with greater confidence and assurance that we have the right skills in the right place across the staff team and trustees to further our objectives and support our sustainability planning.”
The introduction of Andrea’s role in a small team where trustees had to support operational tasks has meant that key trustees have been able to refocus their time on governance and strategy rather than delivery. A working system of short-term task groups involving staff and trustees to ensure the resilience of the organisation. This has helped to maintain a ‘close team’ feel across the organisation but without trustees becoming unnecessarily involved in operational tasks.
A funding strategy was approved by the Board in October 2019 and a ‘funding dashboard’ was set up to provide all trustees with clear financial updates on funding applied for / raised, secured and unsuccessful, so that they can keep pace and see progress. In the period to the onset of Covid-19 this plan led to a number of successful grants income streams and put the organisations finances on a much firmer footing. The strategy went on hold when Covid-19 hit as many funders and partners they were targeting stopped or refocussed funds to respond to the crisis.
Teesdale Day Clubs also adapted to this change. Like many other organisations they had to close their clubs, furlough staff and adapt to the ‘new normal’. Despite putting much of their original strategy on hold, their new structure and strategic focus enabled them to take advantage of new funding options and different ways of working. Not only have they managed to continue to support their beneficiaries but have maintained the financial resilience they had begun to build.
Chair of the Association of Teesdale Day Clubs Dr.Peter Wood said:
“Unfortunately, the COVID19 crisis has had an adverse impact on the Association with the suspension of club operations and this has meant some proposed actions in our plans being delayed or put on hold. However, the earlier reorganisation and planning has shown significant benefits and the grant has helped develop the service we have been able to provide and reduce trustee involvement in day–to–day operations. Appointing a Strategic Manager has been highly beneficial in managing the issues created by the crisis particularly in organising staff, delivering support for our members, assessing our risks and, as far as possible, minimising increased feelings of social isolation during lock-down. She has also been successful in sourcing funding to help provide new outreach support services during the crisis as well as to fund future activities when Clubs are able to return to normal operations.”
Adam Lopardo, Director of Community Relations who oversees the fund said:
“This mix of investing in a strategic role, strategy development and organisational restructure was exactly the kind of activity the fund was set up to support. It’s great to see that the support has helped Teesdale Day Clubs not only reorganise but so far weather the difficulties of Covid-19. I look forward to seeing them come through it and build on these great foundations.”
To read more about the Growth and Resilience Fund and to apply: www.communityfoundation.org.uk/group_grant/supporting-organisations-across-the-north-east-with-grants-up-to-25000-to-change-survive-adapt-and-grow