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Funders pledge to support charities during coronavirus emergency

16 Mar 2020 News

More than 30 grantmakers have signed a statement promising to support charities during the coronavirus emergency.

They said that they would be understanding of difficulties and be flexible on reporting requirements and how funding is used.

Other organisations in the sector have also separately pledged support and are reportedly considering further ways of helping.

‘We wish to be as helpful as possible’

The statement has been published by London Funders and signed by more than 30 organisations that offer funding to charities across the country. These include a number of London councils, BBC Children In Need and the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, among others.

The statement says: “We, along with a wider group of funders, recognise that the Covid-19 outbreak is an exceptional event that will have an impact on civil society groups, and want to offer reassurance that we stand with the sector during this time.

“We wish to be as helpful as possible during the coming weeks and months so that civil society groups can focus on the vital work of supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“We understand that there will be times when staff and volunteers will not be available, when beneficiaries may need services to be provided in different ways, or when systems need to be flexible to ensure that needs are met.”

It then lists four main commitments that signatories are making: maintaining funding even when organisations experience difficulties in delivering outputs, offering deadline and financial flexibility, and listening to organisations who want to discuss their situation.

It also says the funders recognise that charities’ other income streams may be impacted, and commits to publishing any emergency funding opportunities on the London Funders’ website, so that they are easy to find and all in the same place. 

The statement can be supported by grantmakers across the country, so other organisations may decide to add their signature over the next few days.

ACF 'working up' how to respond

The Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), which represents 380 foundations and grantmaking charities, has published a blog on what foundations need to be thinking about in regards of the coronavirus crisis.

It says the association is “working up” how to respond and will be publishing more information later on. It is also asking for its members' thoughts and suggestions on the topic.

One of the area foundations need to be thinking about according to the blog is “impact on the causes that foundations support”. The blog says that charities might face lower fundraising income, rise in demand for services and cashflow problems, and that foundations might want to be thinking about how to help them.

ACF has also been talking to other European associations, stating: “Italian foundations are looking at extending grants for six months without obligation, and in other countries there is discussion on converting existing grants that were awarded as ‘restricted’ for specific projects to ‘unrestricted’ for any purpose in line with the charity’s objectives”.

'We will continue to support you'

Other organisations that have pledged to support their grantees include the National Lottery Community Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Dawn Austwick, CEO of the National Lottery Community Fund, said in a statement: “We recognise that many charities and community organisations across the UK will face increased challenges as a result of Covid-19. We want to support those we fund as far as is possible at this difficult time.”

The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation also published a statement saying: “We want to reassure organisations we fund with grants and social investments that we will continue to support you through this uncertain time, and that our funding is flexible and intended to help you deal with challenges.

“We understand that it might be difficult for you to meet the outcomes of your grant when staff and volunteers will not be available, events or meetings may need to be cancelled, and services need to be provided in different ways. We’re interested to hear about this as part of your regular reporting, but you don’t have to take the time to tell us about it now unless a chat would be helpful.”

Arts Council England lifts grant conditions 

Arts Council England said it has lifted grant conditions because the priority is ensuring that organisations can continue to operate. 

In a statement it said: “We will refocus some grant programmes to help compensate individual artists and freelancers for lost earnings. This will require further planning. It may take about 10 days before we can announce the details.

“National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) and Creative People and Places (CPPs) will continue to receive funding but funding conditions will not apply for at least three months with immediate effect. We can also advance grant payments to assist with cashflow.

“For NPOs and CPPs, the priority is staying in business. In exchange for our support we ask them to honour contracts agreed with freelancers and artists and to think about what help they can offer their communities.”

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