Charities should 'lobby foundations for changes to grant-giving'

Ed Gairdner, chief executive of the Good Exchange, tells Third Sector's Fundraising Conference there must be a change of mindset in the whole market

Ed Gairdner
Ed Gairdner

Charities should take a lead in lobbying trusts and foundations for changes to how they hand out grants, Ed Gairdner, chief executive of the digital fundraising platform the Good Exchange, has told Third Sector’s Fundraising Conference.

Speaking at the conference, Gairdner said that although trusts and foundations were starting to become more innovative, there "needs to be a mindset change in the whole market".

Gairdner said trusts and foundations needed to move from reactive funding, where they simply reacted to grant applications, to proactively invest in the areas where they made the biggest difference for the cause.

He also said the grant applications process needed to be improved. Only between 4 per cent and 24 per cent of applications were successful, said Gairdner, but charities spent a combined £100m a year on filling in grant applications.

"There’s a need to change the mindset, and funders drive applicant behaviour," Gairdner said.

"At the end of the day, if application forms give you hurdles to jump over, all you can do is jump over those hurdles. But actually we need to start changing that behaviour."

The problem was that trustees were generally risk-averse, Gairdner said

He said charities were "lagging five to 10 years behind the private sector" in adopting new technology, and they needed to embrace new technology or risk getting left behind.

Charities should not be afraid of being regulated, Gairdner said, and should ensure payment service providers were registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.

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