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Join us for our first training! 

We’re delighted to share that registrations are now open for Improving Grantseeker Experiences: a one day training workshop for small-to-medium funders. These workshops will be held this summer (exact dates and locations to be decided in conjunction with our attendees).

The theme of our first training workshop will be this: How to give your grantseekers and grantees a better experience - without becoming overwhelmed. 

We recommend this training workshop for any grantmaker at a sub-£10m-a-year funder who worries about who can and cannot access their organisation’s funding. It has been designed to help grantmakers who are concerned that the positive impact of their grants may be counterbalanced by unnecessary pain, waste and inconvenience experienced by grantseekers and grantees. 

If you work for a larger funder - making over £10m of a grants a year - don’t worry, we’ll be offering support suitable for you soon!

The cost of the training in this pilot is £249 per person, heavily reduced for the pilot. If you’re interested, just hit reply and we’ll answer any questions you have, and talk to you about signing up.

What’s the evidence base on the impact of unrestricted funding?

We are very much in favour of funders offering more unrestricted funding. In Modern Grantmaking we even make this the Number One item on our list of ‘No-Brainers’ for grantmakers. You may agree with us, or you may be sceptical, but if you’re reading this newsletter you probably have opinions about it!

However, have you ever come across robust, academic analysis of what difference unrestricted funding makes? No? Well that’s not surprising since it turns out to be an important question that researchers of grantmaking have not been looking at much, until now.

This is all changing, though. In the last few weeks we’ve had the pleasure of meeting Professor Dr Pamala Wiepking. She has been digging into the evidence base surrounding unrestricted funding - and that gaps in that evidence - for a few years. She’s also been working with a colleague to start to fill some of these gaps, and has some very interesting preliminary evidence.

In this lecture transcript she does a fantastic job of giving an overview about what is and isn’t known, and what the first findings are from her own research. If you’re interested in the state of knowledge about unrestricted funding, we strongly recommend reading right through it. 

What’s been happening?

  • There’s been some lively debate recently about Trust-Based Philanthropy, kicked off by a somewhat inflammatory piece in Alliance magazine by Simon Sommer of the Jacobs Foundation. The discussion continues in Alliance magazine with a new article by Greg Hilditch who argues that trust-based giving is not new but that “bringing these principles to the forefront in modern, professionalised philanthropic practice is.” And then there's an even firmer rebuttal from several people connected to the Trust Based Philanthropy Project. 
  • IVAR has launched a survey gathering views on how to improve the funding experience. Over 100 independent funders have signed up to IVAR’s Open and Trusting initiative. The anonymous results of this survey will be shared to help hold these funders to account and enable them to keep improving their practices.
  • What encourages funders to offer multi-year flexible funding and what can get in the way of this? This article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review provides some useful perspectives from the US.

Retro time!

Wowzers, Philanthrocapitalism sure does look dated now! Back in 2010 Matthew Bishop and Michael Green published a book in praise of corporate titans-turned-philanthropists who do their giving with ”big-business-style strategies and expecting results and accountability to match”. 

Now we’re 100% in favour of very successful business people giving away lots of money, but 2010 was a long time ago, on the other side of what huge cultural moments in both society and inside philanthropy. This was a pre #MeToo book, and a pre Black Lives Matter book, but also a pre-’Trust Based Philanthropy’ book, and a pre-‘Just Giving’ book. 

Anyway, we’re mainly digging up the past because we recently stumbled across this simply amazing exchange between the authors of Philanthrocapitalism and the veteran feminist funder Kavita Ramdas, published back in 2011. The dismissal of Ramdas’ arguments is just so high handed and breezy, and it struck us as just sort of emblematic of the brief, wildly over-confident period when it seemed that all philanthropy needed to succeed was a good strong dose of business sense. If we’ve learned anything since then, it’s that things are never that easy. And some might say that parts of philanthropy still (over) prioritise ‘business sense’ - especially grantmaking boards filled with people who made their money in the financial sector.
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