I make no apologies for keeping on about the problems and obstacles facing small charities in accessing grants, especially from major funders.
But it seems that I am not alone in my views. Earlier this month, the think tank Pro Bono Economics reported that small charities often feel “too scared” to approach large organisations for funding.
This comes on top of statistics from the Ubele Initiative which indicate that black-led charities in the UK are too often conditioned to feel that they are not good enough to access major grants.
Although many funders both large and small set an excellent example in the simplicity and brevity of their application processes, many do not. For example, why do some funders ask small charities to send their most recent annual report and accounts, or attach them to on-line applications, when these documents are readily accessible on the Charity Commission website? Why do some funders require home addresses and personal mobile numbers for charity main contacts when these contacts can be easily reached via charity main, or individual direct line, numbers? Why do some funders insist on one or more referees, when charities’ track records are easily checked via their own websites, or on the Charity commission website if they do not have their own ?
At the very least, some funders need to update their procedures in line with the current economic situation and the increasing needs – both material and financial – of small charities today.
At Minerva we encourage our clients to expand their fundraising, tapping into new areas and new sources of income. However, they are hardly encouraged to try new, and often demanding, fundraising areas when their existing applications require so much effort and heartache.
It is of course not entirely the fault of funders. Many small charities, alas, do not read guidelines, note programme dates or bother to upload key documents required.
So let me propose a New Year resolution. For trusts and foundations: simplify your application procedures and ask for the minimum information you need to make sensible funding decisions. And for small charities: do read the guidelines and the requirements – and act on them!