Comic Relief changes grants strategy

The charity will place more emphasis on helping people find their own solutions

Comic Relief
Comic Relief

Comic Relief has launched a new grants strategy that the charity says will put a greater emphasis on helping people find their own solutions to the challenges they face.

Grant-making will be focused on four key programme areas in the UK and around the world: investing in helping children and young people to be ready for the future; empowering women and girls to be free to lead the lives they choose; improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable and disadvantaged people; and building stronger communities in areas of disadvantage, deprivation and poverty.

Comic Relief, which raised a record £68m from its biennial Sport Relief campaign in March, said it had streamlined its application process to ensure organisations could apply for funding as easily as possible and that smaller organisations were better supported.

Judith McNeill, grants director at Comic Relief, told Third Sector that for some of its initiatives charities would be able to submit their funding proposals in note form and only those organisations believed to be in with a good chance of being funded would be asked to provide more details.

In some other cases, applicants would be encouraged to apply on their mobile phones, she said.

McNeill said that some programmes would be open for applications from today, but others would not open until the summer or later.

"We’re looking at a rolling programme of initiatives," she said. "This is different from our old strategy – we had a very fixed strategy of themes that opened for fixed periods of time."

She said Comic Relief was developing a core funding programme that it believed would be of interest to smaller and medium-sized organisations in need of support with their running costs. She said this would be publicised on the funder’s website in June.

McNeill said that 40 per cent of the funding raised through the charity’s biennial Red Nose Day appeal would be allocated to organisations active in the UK, with the remainder going to those active in Africa. The funds from Sport Relief are equally split between the UK and overseas, which consists of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

When considering applications, she said, Comic Relief would focus in particular on applicants’ governance arrangements, their track records, their relationships with other organisations in their field and their understanding of the communities in which they worked. "They also need to have a passion for enabling the people they are working with to have their own voices," she said.

Comic Relief received more than 2,000 applications for funding and awarded 393 new grants in 2014/15 – 281 in the UK and 112 overseas. McNeil said the success rate varied depending on an organisation’s area of work from about one in four to one in 15.

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