Funders should help charities develop their mental health-related digital services, a research consultancy has advised.
In a report published this week, New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) said that funders should help charities engage with digital services so they can offer more mental health support to young people.
“We have now reached the point where it is impossible to avoid engagement with digital services,” it said. “When the need is so pronounced charities and funders alike need to be awake to the benefits.”
It said that there is an increasing number of young people accessing mental health support digitally but charities are lagging behind in their ability to occupy this market, due to having fewer resources than the private sector.
More flexible funding
The report advised funders to work in different ways to support these services, including by helping charities develop infrastructure and networks to deliver digital products, rather than through direct funding.
It also recommended that funders fund existing projects and collaborate, rather than giving lots of small grants to small organisations. It also emphasised the need to invest in long term projects, rather than many shorter term solutions.
“Funders need to consider adopting long-term and flexible funding models, and find ways to work together to establish collaborative funds that better support the infrastructure the sector needs," it said.
"This includes supporting networks, directory signposting, charity collaboration, NHS integration, and learning and development. In turn, charities need to commit to learning from each other and working together to build the field and drive understanding forward."
The report added that sometimes funders are deterred from making grants as they see it as a risk, but pooling funds would reduce this risk.
“There are currently few opportunities for funders to come together to overcome the financial, comfort and sophistication gaps through collaboration, pooled funding and knowledge sharing," is said.
"This is something that funders need to consider if they are to help charities offer effective and adequately-resourced products for young people.”
It added that small charities struggle to compete with larger charities in digital spaces and that the sector needs the support of larger grants.
“Long-term and flexible funding in this space is vital, and charities will be best supported by grants that are unrestricted, or at least loosely restricted, so they have the freedom to do what is needed to build the field, innovate, collaborate, and trial and improve their services with a view to achieving scale,” it said.
The report also made recommendations to charities. It said they should work together to share learning and ensure their services do not overlap.
It also said they need to work with private companies “to forge connections” with these services.
The report was sponsored by Nominet, a technology company.