UK Community Foundations launches a new report on the impact of the pandemic on local Voluntary and Community Sector Organisations (VCSOs) and the communities they are based in. It looks at the practical steps that funders can take to ensure that their grant-making is responsive, effective and inclusive to local VCSOs. It also showcases some of the innovative work happening in the community foundation network.
The main conclusions of the report are:
- Nearly all of the community foundations surveyed are seeing a growing demand for the following services: food and essentials, mental health services, technology and IT, social isolation and domestic violence support services.
- The impact of closures and decreased capacity of local VCSOs will have a wide and far reaching impact on the communities they serve. These include: an increased strain on statutory services, a reduction in volunteering opportunities and the loss of irreplaceable community provision.
- Funders can take immediate actions to ensure that their systems and processes aren’t barriers to local VCSOs delivering vital services to communities. These actions include: supporting tried and tested good practice, providing core cost funding, taking a flexible approach to grant-making, encouraging collaboration rather than competition, and improving the financial stability of local VCSOs by providing multi-year funding.
- Community foundations are being responsive to the needs of local VCSOs and communities. The place-based community foundation model is enabling innovative grant-making programmes, ensuring local people have a meaningful say in how funding is allocated, and being adaptive to the different needs that the pandemic is creating.
- Using recommendations from organisations that received funding from UKCF’s BAME Infrastructure Fund, the report also sets out the practical steps that funders can take to ensure that their systems and processes are inclusive and accessible to BAME-led VCSOs.
In Oxfordshire, by the first anniversary of lockdown, over £1 million in charitable funding was distributed to the local charity and voluntary sector to support emergency response and a burgeoning recovery from the pandemic. Our Community Resilience Fund, opened quickly for first applications in April 2020, after an initial generous gift from the Indigo Trust and adding funds, given to the whole community foundations network, from The National Emergencies Trust. Due to continued, local and mainly private, donations into this fund, we have been able to continue our grant-making to support Oxfordshire’s recovery from the pandemic, most recently for homelessness prevention and young families.
Rosemary Macdonald, CEO, UK Community Foundations, on the launch of their report, said: “We all know that the effects of the pandemic are going to be with us for years to come. As funders, this puts the ball firmly in our court. Now more than ever we must make that our grant-making is in tune with the needs of the local charities and community groups that have been a vital lifeline to people. Using the local expertise of our community foundations, the experience of decades of place-based investment, and the unique insights of funded organisations – this report makes a series of realistic recommendations that we can all implement.”