BBC Children in Need to fund charities’ core costs amid cost-of-living crisis

05 Sep 2022 News

Fozia Irfan, director of children and young people at BBC Children in Need

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BBC Children in Need will for the first time directly fund charities’ core costs over the next three years as part of its new strategy.

The grantmaker’s director of children and young people, Fozia Irfan, said the charity felt “an obligation” to fund charities’ organisational costs given the economic climate.

Children in Need will offer grants through three streams including one for core organisational and development costs and another aimed at its traditional project-based funding, both of which will open in October this year.

It will also launch a funding stream for smaller, emerging organisations who may need greater support to access funding in spring 2023.

The charity’s 2022-2025 strategy was co-created with young people, staff, volunteers, grantees and external stakeholders and it aims to simplify and streamline the application process for funding.

‘We can’t ignore the economic context’

All the charity’s three funding streams will offer contracts to organisations for up to three years.

The charity’s core costs funding stream will open for applications next month and will allow charities that work with children and young people to spend money they are awarded on central running and operational expenses.

This might include management and administration, general office, accountancy and audit, fundraising, and governance or compliance costs.

Irfan told Civil Society News the charity had “an obligation” to fund charities’ organisational costs given the economic climate “so that they can carry on delivering the work that they need to do”.

“We can't be ignorant of the context that we're working in. From our feedback, our consultation with grantees, yes, they can carry out projects but if they can't keep the lights on and the heating on, how are they going to deliver the projects? It's as simple as that.

“So, we can also support the sector by building their capacity, strengthening them as organisations, so that they're able to deliver the projects that we want directly to children and young people. And I think given the current crisis, that's never more needed.”

Sector collaboration ‘vital’

Irfan said Children in Need planned to increase its funding “to respond to the immediate crisis”, while also offering core costs to support charities in “the medium term”.

Asked what other funders could do to support charities during the cost-of-living crisis, she said sector collaboration was “going to be vital” and required a “joined-up response”. 

“The charitable sector is an ecosystem, and no one organisation can do all of the work. But if we combine our forces, leverage our assets together, that's what I think the sector really needs at the moment.”

Funding for newer charities

Children in Need’s other new stream, provisionally named “emerging grants”, will launch in spring 2023 and is aimed at newer charities that the organisation may not have funded before.

This funding stream will permit project costs, core costs or a combination of both.

Explaining this stream and the organisation’s simplified application processes, Irfan said: “If you're an organisation who perhaps hasn't gone through our due diligence processes before, we can work with you in other ways, to be a bit more flexible to look at due diligence in a different way and to manage risk in a different way.”

Children in Need will also begin accepting applications next month for more of a traditional stream to fund project costs, which are restricted to the aims and delivery of a specific piece of work with children and young people.

This will cover a defined set of activities, which are time limited. The money could be spent on project staff costs, trips and outings, volunteer expenses or moveable equipment.

Emphasis on diversity and inclusion

Before joining Children in Need in 2020, Irfan previously led the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation and founded philanthropic consultancy the DEI Coalition.

Irfan said she hoped that Children in Need’s strategy had a similar focus on diversity and inclusion as well as place-based funding.

“Those values and principles are still just as important in a large well recognised funder, like Children in Need, and you can still bring those principles through. It may take slightly longer than it would in a smaller organisation, but it's still possible.”

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