Trusts are reluctant to fund campaigning, but according to New Philanthropy Capital, it is the only way to ensure change
At the start of March, the UK Workforce Hub launched a three-month consultation on the National Occupational Standards for Campaigners, which it is developing. Campaigning in the sector remains largely self-defined and self-directed, which might be one reason why many grant-makers are reluctant to fund it.
However, Critical Masses, a report released by New Philanthropy Capital in December, said that "in some circumstances, campaigning is the only effective course of action". The report urged donors to fund "social campaigning" on the basis that it was often the best way to bring about genuine change.
Glen Whitehead, deputy head of major gifts at Shelter, says finding grant funding for campaigning work can be tough. "If you mention campaigning involving the public and the media, the conversation can quickly run dry," he says.
"There is a tendency among funders to feel that campaigning veers towards the political and that it can be difficult to measure quantifiable outcomes."
But some funders are keen to support campaigning. According to Greg Shaw, director of advocacy and policy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, there is "absolutely a role that philanthropy can play in giving voice to evidence-based arguments and policy positions".
The City Parochial Foundation runs an entire programme dedicated to campaigning. "Our mission is to tackle poverty in London," says Mubin Haq, director of policy and grants at the foundation. "We don't have the resources to do that in its entirety, but government and other agencies do."
Funding for Sustainable Change, a report published by the NCVO and the Directory of Social Change in October last year, analysed the campaigns that are most likely to receive funding. The majority - 42 per cent - fall into the 'rights, law and conflict' category. Environmental and animal issues receive only 20 per cent, and social welfare 15 per cent.
Charity Commission guidelines permit charities to campaign as long as they do not show explicit support for political parties. However, a lot of trusts are reluctant to fund campaigning because of its political connotations.
According to Funding for Sustainable Change, less than a third of trusts explicitly state that they will fund campaign work (1 October 2008, page 4).
The City Parochial Foundation, however, invites applications for campaigning work. "It makes a difference," says Haq. "Service delivery can be funded by government or other agencies. Campaigning can't."
CASE STUDY: THE FAWCETT SOCIETY
The Fawcett Society funded its Sexism and the City campaign primarily with a grant of £70,000 over two years from the City Parochial Foundation. The campaign aims to expose women's experiences of sexism in the workplace.
The funding enabled the society to cover the costs of a worker for the campaign, who has in turn been able to raise some project funding.
The initial grant enabled the society to test out new ways of campaigning. A poster campaign on the London Underground, for example, encouraged people to share their experiences of sexism in the workplace.
Within nine months of launching the campaign, the society had persuaded the Government to agree to reclassify lap-dancing clubs as 'sex encounter establishments', which would make licences more expensive. It also created a media debate about sexism at work and the proliferation of lap-dancing clubs.
"We did think it might be tricky to fund," says Rowena Lewis, head of fundraising and development at the Fawcett Society. "Few grant funders are enthusiastic funders of campaigning, and we are very obviously a campaigning and lobbying organisation."
Other funders did turn Sexism and the City down, she says. "However, this grant has enabled us to tackle some of the root issues."