April 25, 2017 : Jenny Bloomfield

Long road ahead to make funding fair

Our new research shows need for funders and the third sector to map out a better system

Last summer, I carried out a survey of SCVO members into how they found local funding. Thanks to everyone who got involved (all 473 of you) and now, finally, we have our report – take a look!

Unsurprisingly perhaps, we find the picture of local funding for organisations is not too pretty. Let’s begin with a look at the process of applying for funding. Over seven in ten respondents said their organisation sought for funding from local authorities, health boards or other regional public bodies at least once a year; and over one quarter applied, on average, a whopping three times a year or more.

the reality of short-term funding is something our sector has been battling with for years

This links clearly, too, to the reality of short-term funding, something that the sector has been battling with for years. Of those who were funded by grant who responded to our survey, almost eight in ten of them sought funding for one year or less – a situation which again feeds into the very scenarios described above.

Whilst funders and politicians may argue that they cannot possibly commit funds for longer than one year, as they themselves don’t know what their own finances will be in coming years, this notion is fanciful when you consider the small sums involved that much of the sector is seeking – over eight in ten grant funded respondent organisations asked for less than £50,000; and over half asked for less than £10,000.

Finally, taking a look at how much funding was supplied and whether that was sufficient, of those who responded to the survey only fifty-six percent of grant recipients, and half of contract/service level agreement recipients, felt that their funding was sufficient to cover core costs for the activity associated with the funding/contract. That means that almost half of all organisations were using other funds to supplement projects or services that they had secured funding for – which definitely doesn’t feel sustainable in the long-term.

And these are just a few areas that our report flags up. It is clear that we all still have some way to go on improved funding, and there is, as ever, a role here too for the sector itself – in presenting clearly the case for longer-term funding whenever we get the opportunity, say, or in working with funders to suggest ways to improve processes whenever possible.

We hope that our report, alongside the work of others in the sector, and work that we will continue to do here at SCVO, will enable funders and the sector to map out a better system for the coming years.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Jenny Bloomfield