This month saw the return of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIOF)’s National Convention to an in-person event for the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis in March 2020.

It was a great occasion at The Barbican, and I had the pleasure of chairing a discussion on whether or not small charities get a raw deal from trusts and foundations.

I was lucky to have with me Jess Slate, CEO of SERVE, and Wayne Marriott from Bedfordshire Opportunities for Learning Disabilities (BOLD) – both leading small charities in the fields of services for the elderly, and training and job opportunities for the learning disabled, respectively.

They were able to tell our audience all about the challenges small charities face in raising grants from trusts and foundations, with actual examples which clearly resonated with delegates.

The other – and equally important – side of the coin was provided by David Laing, Chairman of both the Sir Kirby Laing Foundation and the David Laing Foundation, and Rachel McGrath, CEO of Northamptonshire Community Foundation.

Highlights of the panel discussion included varied and searching questions from the audience, which sparked lively debate and enabled all those participating to understand the views of different organisations and the challenges they faced.

A key point which emerged was that many small charities felt unable to follow up grant refusals, or believed that feedback would be refused. Both the foundation representatives were able to assure delegates that this was not the case for their organisations, and that follow up was actively encouraged.

A good omen for the future!