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New Training!

This October we'll be running our training workshop "Improving Grantseeker Experiences" for a second time. We'd love to see you there!

We're running it again because our pilot had an excellent vibe and we got great feedback, such as:

"I highly recommend to anyone who works in the world of grant funding to attend the Improving Grantseeker Experiences training. I've come away with a quite a few actions for when I get back to work!"

The workshop is for grantmakers who work for private, government or corporate funders that have fewer than 25 people in their grantmaking teams. If you are passionate about making things better for grantseekers, we hope we'll see you there.

Find out more and express your interest here!

Arguments to help you win tedious core cost debates

If you work for almost any grant funder you are probably tiresomely familiar with rules and limits associated with how much your organisation is willing to pay out for 'core costs'.

These rules tend to be described using wording a bit like this:

"We only pay 10% for overheads"

"We don’t cover “indirect costs”; we only fund direct project-based activity"

The logic behind these rules is based on a seductive argument which goes something like this:

"I want my money to make a real difference, and I don't want any of it to be wasted. A new building or a new staff member is a real difference, so I'll just pay for that, and nothing else. Result!"

This argument is seductive, but also just wrong and damaging. Because when a funder refuses to pay a the true share of core costs implied by a new project, they are basically saying "I’d like to have a lovely thing please, but I don’t want to pay for it."

Which basically, when you think about it, is a totally bizarre, hilarious thing for a grown-up to say. It's a bit like:
  • Going into a restaurant and declaring "I'd like to pay for the ingredients, please, but not the cooking or serving", or
  • Getting on an aeroplane and saying "I'd like to pay for the fuel, please, but not the airport, crew, taxes or £300m aeroplane", or
  • Buying shares in a company and then insisting you only own the part that makes the revenues, while other people own the part that incurs all the costs of doing business.
In all these commercial exchanges, you'd be thrown out on your ear. But funders have so much relative power that grantseekers will often accept this sort of patiently unreasonable demand, for fear of future exclusion.

Caveat time. Now we know that in certain situtations, especially where a grant is being awarded to a really big recipient organisation, not putting any constraints or restrictions on spending will undermine a funder's ability to point money towards, say, one specific country or one specific disease. That's fair enough.

But even in this sort of situation we recommend that funding institutions avoid setting inflexible, up-front caps to maximum core cost contributions because you simply never know what the cost structure of an organisation seeking a grant is going to be. To show humility and respect for your grantseekers, you should ask your grantseekers what contribution to core costs they need when they apply.  And you should be prepared for the answer to sometimes come back 'We need 100% of this grant to be for core costs'.  After all, our No Brainer No.1 is "Make most of your grants unresticted", and if you do that... this problem melts away entirely.

More New Training!

We're happy to announce that we are now offering a new workshop called 'The Fundamentals of Modern Grantmaking'.

A highly interactive one-day workshop, it has been designed to be delivered to grantmaking teams or even whole organisations.

This workshop is especially useful for people who have read the book Modern Grantmaking and who want to introduce their colleagues to many of the core ideas and practices without expecting people to spend a lot of time reading. 

If you'd like to learn more, or you'd like a conversation about having us possibly delivery this workshop with your team, please take a look here, and get in touch.

Reading - Modern Grantmaking recommends 

Work with us!

We supply consultancy support to grantmakers trying to overcome a range of challenges, both in the UK and overseas. Here's the six different ways we can help. Feel free to get in touch.


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