Blog July 2021

Refining the focus of our funds

Lesley Macdonald, head of our Giving Team, looks at how we are using data and trends from the first eight months of funding under our new strategy to sharpen the focus of our offer.

"We have a responsibility to ensure that the primary aim of the projects and activities we support through our Funds is to improve the lives of those people in our society who are most adversely affected by poverty and trauma. We are also acutely aware of the high levels of need across the sector just now. This means having to make some difficult decisions on what we can fund but we will always aim to do so in a way which is fair and transparent."

When we launched our new strategy in September 2020, we made a commitment to continually reflect on the trends we were seeing and adapt our approaches accordingly.  

As expected, demand for our funding since launch has been extremely high and we anticipate this will continue to rise over the coming months. We have been particularly struck by just how many applications are for work in areas which are  strongly aligned to our broad strategic objectives which is really positive but it does mean that we need to consider some further refinements to the focus of our Funds.    

We have always tried to be clear and transparent with our applicant organisations about the type of work which we are likely to fund. Over the coming months, we plan to review our guidance and messaging to ensure these are reflective of the decisions we are making and of the external trends we are seeing. We will aim to share tangible examples of projects and activities we believe to be a strong fit with our strategy across various communication channels and through increased use of case studies (see our latest Voices). Please do sign up to our mailing list to stay in touch! 

In the meantime, reflecting on the past eight months, we have identified a number of areas where we felt it would be helpful to provide a clearer steer for applicants to our Funds.  These include: 

  • Community development work We are seeing increased demand for funding for community development work. Whilst we absolutely recognise the value of this in improving overall health and wellbeing and community life, applicants need to demonstrate how the nature of the proposed work will improve outcomes for those people most adversely affected by poverty and trauma.  
  • Childcare While the importance of access to good quality, flexible and affordable childcare is highlighted in our strategy, we cannot fund provision of childcare in isolation. We are, however, interested in broader support for vulnerable families and understand that childcare may form part of this.  
  • Rural and remote Again, there is a need to clearly demonstrate links to poverty and trauma, particularly for large grant applications.  
  • Older peoples’ services  We are unable to fund broad based, social care services for older people. Again, we completely understand the value of activities such as befriending services, lunch clubs in tackling social isolation. However, with our focus on poverty and trauma, these activities are unlikely to be considered for a large grant. Smaller organisations working in this area may be able to apply to our Funds for a Small/Wee Grant. However, it is again important to demonstrate how the proposed work is likely to improve outcomes for those older people who may be affected by poverty and/or trauma.  

We will continue to review and refine the “shape” of our Funds as we reflect and learn more about the type of activities and approaches which prevent or mitigate the effects of poverty and/or trauma on peoples’ lives.  This commitment to learning underpins our strategy and we whilst we appreciate that there may be some difficult decisions as we sharpen the focus of our Funds, we believe it is our responsibility to take this approach if we are to make a real difference and support those seeking solutions to poverty and trauma in Scotland.