Charities afraid to speak out over grant-making process, report finds

The Smarter Grant Initiative says that 99 per cent of charities want the grant-giving process to change

Smarter Grants Initiative
Smarter Grants Initiative

Almost all charities have concerns about the grant-making processes of trusts and foundations, but many are afraid to speak out through fear of "biting the hand that feeds" them, according to a report published today as part of an initiative to improve the relationship between voluntary organisations and funders.

The Smarter Grants Initiative was launched at a round-table event in London. Its first annual report includes the results of a survey of 500 UK charities that reveals widespread discontent about dealing with trusts and foundations.

Charities, the report says, encounter a number of "logistical and deeply entrenched issues" when applying for grants. Key concerns include lack of funding, overly complex application forms and poor communication.

According to the survey, 99 per cent of charities want grant-giving processes changed and 94 per cent would like to see a centralised database of funders.

The report says: "Charities are unwilling to call out poor practices by foundations for fear of biting the hand that feeds and, without this feedback, foundations are often unclear what they might need to change. Inefficiencies on both sides remain acceptable to many because everyone is 'doing good'."

It recommends creating a centralised database of grant-makers and grants, and a standardised application form; better guidance for people filling in forms; more feedback on applications; and greater use of technology.

The co-founders of the Smarter Grants Initiative are Peter Wheeler and Marcelle Speller, trustees of New Philanthropy Capital, Fran Perrin, founder and director of the Indigo Trust, and City finance expert Paula Bergamaschi-Broyd. The initiative has so far received £50,000 of funding.

Speller told Third Sector the anonymous nature of the survey gave charities a chance to highlight their concerns about grant-makers without fear of reprisals. She added: "There was such a buzz in the room at the launch to get moving and make grant-making better."

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