Josephine McCartney: What are funders looking for from charities in the wake of coronavirus?

07 Sep 2020 Voices

Josephine McCartney from Kent Community Foundation explains what expectations funders have of charities in light of the pandemic. This article has been specially commissioned as part of Civil Society Media’s Faith Charities Week

As one of the largest grantmakers in their county, Kent Community Foundation (KCF) assess hundreds of applications each year. In more “usual” times, the foundation awards around £2.5m in grants annually, to around 600 organisations and individuals across key areas of need including elderly and isolated, vulnerable adults, employability and children, young people and families.

This year however, coronavirus changed things and like many other funders, Kent Community Foundation had to consider their plans for grantmaking. Whilst some funders diverted monies from pre-existing funds and others chose not to open those specially in response to the pandemic, KCF decided to set up a new Covid-19 fund in addition to their existing funds. To date, in five months, the community foundation has already awarded £2m in emergency and resilience funding alone.

So, what goes into a successful application, has this changed since coronavirus and what are some examples of faith-based charities being awarded funding?

The fundamentals of a “good” application remain the same, irrespective of the organisation or group, and are outlined further below.

For Kent Community Foundation, it’s important that funds continue to address core areas of need within the community, which were present even before coronavirus – a survey conducted by the Foundation in May 2020 showed organisations had seen an increase in demand for services. With regards to new challenges presented, what Kent Community Foundation has been encouraged by is how organisations have quickly adapted to delivering both new and “old” services in new ways.

After supporting a number of organisations, including many faith-based groups providing an immediate response to the pandemic - such as Kent Muslim Welfare Association, delivering food parcels to the isolated and making facemasks for key workers - Kent Community Foundation looked to those also planning ahead to helping their community to recover and return to a “new normal”.

The basics of a good application

Assuming criteria, such as annual income and key objectives are met, the focus of course turns to the beneficiaries, their need and your response. To clearly demonstrate a need for funding, you must first outline the need for support: Who needs help and why? How have you identified this? Explain just how proposed beneficiaries are disadvantaged. If you can, find stats from reliable sources (eg ONS, local or central government, charitable organisations and governing bodies) to strengthen an application. Next, be sure to communicate your desired outcome and how that will be measured - paint a realistic picture of what a successful project looks like and what will happen afterwards.

It’s worth noting that, in Kent Community Foundation’s case, any organisation has to be properly constituted to apply for funding and for faith-based charities they do ask for a clear “open to all denominations anti-proselytising” statement as part of a governing document. It’s always worth checking with individual grantmakers what their criteria is, and what supporting documents are required upfront.

Here are some examples of faith-based charities Kent Community Foundation has supported in 2020.

Ashford Vineyard Church
Ashford Vineyard Church runs The Beehive - a second-hand women's clothing boutique stocked with high quality donations run by volunteers who are given work experience and training to help them find paid employment. The Beehive is also open to women who can’t afford clothing who have been referred by local services to receive items free of charge.

In addition to a grant of £9,500 in January 2020, awarded by Kent Community Foundation from the Tampon Tax Community Fund and used to pay for a member of staff to support the volunteer programme, they received a further £5,000 from KCF’s Covid-19 Fund to support their efforts in distributing food parcels to those most isolated and vulnerable.

All Saints Community Project Trust
All Saints Community Project Trust offers a variety of services open to the local community. A registered charity, connected to St Paul’s with All Saints Church, it seeks to support beneficiaries within an area with high levels of deprivation through CV training, computer skills, social and craft activities, walking groups and skills training at their centre.

In April 2020, the charity was awarded £7,000 towards costs to keep the centre open, offering food and vouchers to those in most need. In July, they were awarded a further £14,000 as a resilience grant as they look to reopen their doors to the community and offer help in the form of crisis appointments for those who are facing financial hardship, in addition to emergency food provision.

Fegans is a Christian Children’s charity which exists to bring hope to the lives of children, families and communities. Working in over 70 schools their aim is to provide families, most in need of parenting or therapeutic support, effectively breaking generational cycles of harmful behaviour.

During the height of the pandemic, Fegans was awarded £5,000 towards the cost of building digital resources, as well as online parental support and counselling for teens. Later in the year, the charity then received news of a further £13,000 as a resilience grant to ensure they could continue to deliver support in over 100 schools and community venues across the county.

Josephine McCartney is chief executive of Kent Community Foundation

Faith Charities Week – 7–11 September 2020
Faith Charities Week is live! Watch the sessions, view the agenda and register for the event here.



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