Spotting opportunity in a challenging environment

Naturally, there will be fears that Coronavirus may inhibit your organisation’s ability to attract grants from trust and foundations during the next few months. However, our ongoing monitoring indicates that the impact of Coronavirus on the UK fundraising landscape is starting to take shape, and we are pleased to see that funders, donors and commercial partners are responding extremely supportively so far. For example, we have seen that trusts and foundations are taking action to respond to the particular needs of their communities and causes of interest, including:

  • Re-aligning grant programmes to focus on direct support
  • Increasing flexibility around reporting and payment schedules
  • Inviting grantees to request advance payments
  • Converting restricted funding to unrestricted funding
  • Engaging in advocacy on behalf of particular groups, such as those most vulnerable to the virus or a precarious section of the workforce.

A list of examples of activity by foundations is available here.

Whilst this is an entirely new operating environment, historical evidence suggests that in times of crisis, trusts and foundations tend to give out more rather than less. Unlike other funding sources, many trusts and foundations are backed by significant endowments which enable them to continue grantmaking regardless of the economic climate. This however means that competition for grants will be higher than ever – with organisations of all shapes and sizes across the social sectors turning to grants whilst their other income streams diminish.

Reflecting this, in addition to traditional work with clients, the Oaks team has been inundated with requests for support from organisations looking at emergency Coronavirus response funding. Many of these are small community organisations who are struggling to make ends meet whilst their facilities remain closed. Any funding they may be able to attract from the various funding opportunities being announced will go towards making sure they are still viable entities when business eventually returns to normal.

In the last three weeks alone, we have raised £78,000 from Coronavirus emergency grants for organisations in sport, education and the wider third sector, and we are awaiting decisions on a further £150,000 worth of emergency funding for our clients. This funding includes:

  • Grants for organisations experiencing short-term financial hardship or the ceasing of operations due to the ongoing lockdown.
  • Funding for organisations who have changed their delivery model to provide for people in need throughout this crisis. For example, those who have moved their services online, or those delivering aid to vulnerable individuals.

Written by Rahul Bissoonauth, Director at Oaks Consultancy, sister company to Altair.