Coronavirus: More than 70 funders pledge to be more flexible amid outbreak

More than 70 funders have signed a joint statement pledging support to civil society groups affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The signatories, which include London grant-makers such as the City Bridge Trust, the Mayor of London and London boroughs, plus major national funders such as Comic Relief, have pledged to be more flexible about financial, outcome and reporting requirements while charities they fund deal with the impact of the outbreak.

The pledge was coordinated by London Funders, a membership body for funders in the capital, but is open to organisations across the country to sign.

Since it was released on Friday with 23 signatories, numbers have more than doubled and are expected to grow further in the coming weeks.

“Organisations from across the funding spectrum have recognised that Covid-19 is an exceptional event that will almost certainly affect charity staffing,” a statement accompanying the pledge said.

“Beneficiaries may need to be supported differently during these unprecedented times as well.”

Signatories of the statement have committed to new ways of working during the outbreak, including acknowledging that agreed outcomes might not be achieved in the timeframes originally set and not pressuring organisations to meet tight reporting deadlines.

The funders will also allow organisations to use money in ways that differ from their original funding agreements, the pledge said.

“We know you may need to use your funding to help cover sickness, purchase equipment, or deliver services differently, and we will be reasonable if you need to move money between budget headings to ensure your work can continue,” it said.

They also pledged to listen to grantees and encourage them to have frank conversations about their needs, but said funders would wait for grantees to contact them so that conversations happen at the right time for the charities.

David Farnsworth, director and chief grants officer at the City Bridge Trust, said: “We believe that working together at this time to provide assurance and support to civil society is essential during this difficult period for the sector.

“City Bridge Trust encourages other funders to join this alliance to co-sign and pledge their commitment to the communities they serve.”

The other signatories include the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, the Greater London Authority, the Social Investment Business and the Tudor Trust.

The statement said the pledge applied only to its grants and  there would be separate discussions between commissioners and provider organisations over commissioned services or contracts.

The full list of signatories can be found here.

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