Comic Relief ditches the word 'grant' because it is 'too paternalistic'

11 May 2018 News

Ruth Davison

Comic Relief will stop using the word "grant" to describe money it gives away to other charities because the phrase is "too paternalistic", according to an interview published this week.

In an interview with Fundraising Magazine, Ruth Davison, executive director of impact and investment at Comic Relief, said the charity would not change how it gave away money, but would start referring to those gifts as "investments" instead.

“To me the word investment implies partnership," she said. "We invest in you. We believe in your ideas. We share a vision. I think we in the sector have to change our language and modernise. Comic Relief is in a big period of modernisation anyway. So hopefully our using different language will help drive further changes.”

Comic Relief will still be giving money to charities not lending money using social investments.

More focus on UK projects

Davison also said that the charity would change its funding model to focus more on UK projects.

Historically, all grants made using public money raised by Sport Relief has been split 50/50 between UK-based and international projects, while the money raised by Red Nose Day has been split 60/40 in favour of international projects. 

But Davison said that from Red Nose Day 2019, Comic Relief would look to evenly distribute all grants from publicly donations between UK-based and international projects. 

Davison said this shift was part of a wider change in the way that Comic Relief will be making grants in the future.

In the interview, which features in the most recent issue of Fundraising Magazine, Davison also discussed her desire to make Comic Relief’s investments more accessible, particularly for smaller charities; the most recent Sport Relief fundraising total, and why she’ll “always be a fundraiser at heart”.

Davison joined Comic Relief in July 2017 as its grants director, from the Prince's Trust International. Prior to that, Davison was the executive head of fundraising and enterprise at the Canal and River Trust, which she joined in 2011 when it spun out as a charitable trust from British Waterways.

Fundraising Magazine subscribers can read the profile piece in full here

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