Funding story: Wales

Welsh grant makers help to plug the gap left by national funders, which often choose to focus on English organisations.

Wales is a separate country within the UK. At least one funder, though, lists it as an English county, and a number of apparently nationwide funding streams exist only for groups in England. So how does the funding landscape lie for organisations in Wales?

"Quite often you'll see the details of a new fund and then you'll see that it's only for groups in England," says Tessa White, operations manager for grants at the Welsh Council for Voluntary Action.

There is, of course, a flip side. The WCVA lists more than 30 grant-making trusts and foundations that concentrate on Wales. Although a lot of these are quite small, some are big grant givers that have separate Wales programmes, or those, such as the Lloyds TSB Foundation for England and Wales, that are linked to UK-wide funders.

The WCVA also administers its own funding streams. Among them is the Welsh Assembly's share of cash from the Active Community Initiative, a government project designed to rebuild "a sense of community throughout the UK by supporting all forms of community involvement", which has just granted £1m to 27 projects across Wales.

At least one Active Communities recipient is determinedly upbeat about the advantages that being a separate nation can give. Suzanne Rees, director of fundraising and marketing at St John Cymru, says: "If you're covering the whole of England, putting a national project into place is an enormous task. When we're presenting a funding application, we're presenting the whole package. We pull together as a nation, and as a charity we pull together with all-Wales funding."

Funders' failure to recognise Welsh charities is not, then, a straightforward case of monocultural refusal to understand national diversity. Rees ascribes the fact that there is not much grant money dedicated to the principality to the "traditional financial make-up of Wales", presumably meaning that there haven't been many Welsh people rich enough to give their cash away. Roger Bishop, executive director of children's rights organisation Tros Gynnal, says: "We are a poorer country than England and have to work harder to raise money from a less affluent population. It feels like we're a bit of a poor relation."

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