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Chief Executive March Blog

Chief Executive Blog – Chris on Funding

At the time of writing, we’re on countdown to our first ever Suffolk-wide Fundraising Conference.

We’ve an exceptional line-up of speakers, bringing experiences and expertise from a national arena, from complex voluntary organisations, and representing such bodies and businesses as NCVO, Larking Gowen, Just Giving, Power to Change and Hoax Clothing.

Am I surprised that this is an event which has quickly attracted interest, and which has led to sign-up from charities and enterprises large and small? No, not at all.

The eagerness to participate is reflective of the daily conversations I have with fundraising staff, CEOs, village hall committee members, start up social enterprises. They all say that funding is critical to their success (and actually, their mere survival!), and that they’re always keen to learn more and better ways to attract financial support.

There are a number of factors which make securing funding even harder than it has ever been.

We’re seeing a reduced public sector purse and fewer repeat grant streams.

And yet, at the same time, we see more demand on Suffolk’s charities and voluntary organisations to deliver their vital services for the community.

We also know that while there may be some solutions (or helpful tools), like crowdfunding and the enhancement of digital output by causes, there are plenty of organisations which have neither the time, resource or skill to put those elements in place as effectively as they might like.

Spending time with voluntary sector representatives in my work, I repeatedly hear the frustrations and anxieties which rest in the area of funding.

Some of these may be familiar to you too:

  • “I search out grants, but it’s very rare to find ones which will cover the core costs…which is what my organisation desperately needs”
  • “We seem to be a ‘less popular’ cause, so funders aren’t as keen to support us”
  • “I’d love to have someone write grant bids for us all day, but we just don’t have that resource”
  • “We know we need to provide evidence of our impact with compelling stories…but often our minimal resources means we fail to do so…and then we have less of a case to share with funders”
  • “We’re often finding ourselves in competition with other similar sized organisations in Suffolk who also want their share of a grant. Sometimes I think we’d be better to collaborate rather than BOTH lose out….”
  • “Charities still suffer from ‘negative reputation’ issues. Even after all these years, people still remember things like Kid’s Company, and we have to work harder to prove we’re diligent and credible”

Of course, that’s just a snapshot of some of the comments I hear, but they do explain why funding remains so key, and why it feels such a complex task for our county’s enterprises.

Let me sound a positive note of optimism, however.

I truly believe there is a shift. I raise Realising Ambitions as a case in point –  small grant funding made available by the 2 Suffolk CCG’s through Suffolk Community Foundation in 2019.

I also think we’re seeing more acknowledgment among the sector in this county, that collaboration could and would be a great thing.

And, thankfully, I believe in Suffolk, our organisations are trusted and appreciated and admired – and that more people want to support these causes and recognise the work they deliver in our communities.

It will be all of these topics and more, which will be at the table of the Funding Conference on March 19th. I strongly recommend you attend if you can.

Don’t forget, one really key channel that’s open to you, as fund-seekers of organisations in Suffolk, is our Funding4Suffolk search tool. You can register to receive updates about available grants, and can also easily browse the database to discover grants and funding prospects which might be relevant to you. To register, go to https://www.idoxopen4community.co.uk/suffolk/.

Finally, do please reach out and tell me what’s worked for you and your funding strategy this year….and indeed, how we can help you more as you navigate this area in the remainder of 2020.

Email: chris.abraham@communityactionsuffolk.org.uk