Independent funders must collaborate to fill budget gaps, report warns

A New Funding Ecology, from the CIC Collaborate, the Big Lottery Fund and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, says funders must adapt to societal changes

The report's cover
The report's cover

Independent funders cannot fill gaps caused by budget cuts and need smarter collaboration to support social change, according to the second in a series of reports from the community interest company Collaborate, the Big Lottery Fund and the grant-maker the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

The report, A New Funding Ecology: a Blueprint for Change, published today, says funders must adapt and respond to societal changes, such as in the role of the state and citizens’ needs and aspirations.

It says independent funders can play a key role in building new models of social support that prioritise prevention, early intervention and developing cross-sector models of change, it says.

The report, which is based on interviews and focus groups with independent funders, says that devolution will force funders to reconsider their approaches, with extra powers for Scotland meaning a "one-size-fits-all approach" is no longer achievable. It says "place-based working", rather than a London-centric approach, is needed to effect reform all over the UK.

This report follows on from Supporting Social Change: A New Funding Ecology, which was published in April and concluded that independent funders were inhibiting the systemic change of social support in the UK by failing to collaborate effectively.

Henry Kippin, director of Collaborate and co-author of the report, said: "The sector is already starting to collaborate in the face of a shrinking state and rising social demand. But as the challenges for civil society become more acute, there is a need for grant-makers to go further.

"As many sector leaders themselves argue, this means better awareness and deeper collaboration to make a bigger dent in the structural barriers to social change."

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund, said: "We see this follow-up as the earnest beginnings of a framework for us all, laying down a challenge to funders across the sector to pick up the baton and develop the tools and culture outlined. This collective momentum gives an opportunity for funders to better help citizens achieve their aspirations."

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