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Director’s blog - Looking ahead at The Robertson Trust

Please note that The Robertson Trust has published its new Giving Strategy. This sets out the priorities we will have when awarding funds through our open grants programme. The existing application form and guidelines can still be used until July 31st. In line with our existing procedures, we will aim to assess and present all applications received by this date to our September Board meeting. In the event that we are unable to do so, your application may be held until our November meeting. In such cases a member of staff will contact you and provide any assistance required to realign your application with the new Giving Strategy. Find out all you need to know here.

Many of you will have seen our Annual Review launched last week which looks at key data from our work throughout 2018/19.  It hopefully brings the figures to life with a range of stories and case studies.

The process of producing this year’s Annual Review is a microcosm of how we aim to work as a Trust. Based on data and feedback from previous years, we attempted to make the publication more concise, visual and interactive than ever before.  It’s quite a change but one that has been well-received and we hope is better suited to sit alongside our more proactive communications approach of  ‘small and often’.
It is this desire not to be content with the status quo that I hope comes through when people think of The Robertson Trust. Like many funders in Scotland, we recognise that a culture of curiosity, learning and development is imperative if we are to maximise the impact of our resources and contribute to a fair and compassionate Scotland.
An example of this has been our strategy renewal process which the full staff team has been working hard on for the past eight months.
We brought this forward by one year in response to the growing demand on our funding and the recognition that public sector cuts coupled with increased pressure on services had resulted in many organisations running down their reserves and facing significant financial issues. Quite simply, we had to consider our own approach sooner rather than later - and to ensure that whatever changes we make are based on data and feedback from the organisations we support.
From the outset, it has been clear that consideration of how we fund is equally as important as what. In the past year, we have made significant progress developing the Social Bridging Finance funding model and are now in the process of evaluating its impact.  We are also very excited to be launching our Stirling charity hub, which will offer high quality, low cost office and meeting space for the sector. While these are both examples of looking beyond traditional funding to support the sector our strategy renewal is allowing us to consider more ways we can maximise the impact of our resources.  For example we are exploring how to expand our impact by leveraging other funds, increasing capacity of organisations and funding collaboratively.
Whatever emerges from the renewal process, we will continue to use our voice to amplify what we are hearing from those we support. This is a privilege that we take very seriously and we will continue to share learning with key stakeholders at all appropriate opportunities. We are also collecting more data than ever before and are growing in sophistication at interpreting and responding to this.
Traditionally I have used the launch of our Annual Review to reflect on the last 12 months however this year it felt more appropriate to look ahead as we work on our ongoing strategy renewal. Those interested the Trust’s work can rest assured that we will communicate any developments well in advance and I would advise following us on Twitter and Linkedin to stay in touch.
Looking forward I am confident that we will be better equipped to help Scotland’s charities deliver their excellent and much needed work.