Sharing our Learning

Learning from our Covid-19 Support Fund

At the onset of the pandemic existing grantees were able to allocate project funding to support core costs, and we extended timelines to deliver activity. In July 2020, two funding programmes were launched:

• Impact Support Fund – for existing grantees needing to adapt to the crisis.
• Covid-19 Support Fund – making new investment available to the charity sector.

50% of organisations have been in touch to update us on their Covid-19 response and use of the grant, often whilst pandemic restrictions were still in place.

128 applications received and 98 grants awarded.

Maximum grant available – £50,000 over 6 months.  

Average grant awarded – £25,000.  

Total amount awarded – £2,5M.

Our Approach:

We prioritised funding for:

  • Frontline social welfare charities and groups alleviating the challenge for hard-pressed communities.
  • Focus on issues and sectors which are core to Foundation’s exiting priorities: food systems, culture, young people, and supporting them to adapt or respond to the emergency.
  • Collaborations to reach grassroots and mutual aid groups leading the community response to the pandemic and trusted partners to maximise impact at a national level.

Funding Insights:

Whilst most grants were for specific projects, we substantially increased the amount of core funding awarded.

Organisations addressing the needs of those who were particularly vulnerable during the pandemic benefited from our grants. Mental health support was especially required.

Significant support was awarded to organisations working with young people, which is appropriate considering the widespread disruption to education and social activities.

Given the isolation experienced by older people during the pandemic, we will proactively seek to support them better in future funding programmes.

Our grantees swiftly adapted to the challenges of the pandemic often embracing technology to continue delivering their service.

We have responded by being flexible and creative in the way people accessed our service, making the most of well used technologies to make things more accessible. We also developed a procedure for seeing people in person where that was necessary.

Wycombe Homeless Connection

What We Learned:

Our grantees shared insight into the changes and challenges faced by charities during the pandemic, giving us the opportunity to listen and adapt.

+ Grantees engaged with more people than ever before, including new volunteers and community fundraisers, raising awareness of their cause.

+ Organisations reported being more open and collaborative during the pandemic, leading to more effective working practises and better experiences for beneficiaries.

-Grantees report increasing disadvantage and new concerns for the most vulnerable, particularly for young people, such as keeping them safe online and nurturing their mental health.

-The long-term challenge for organisations after Covid-19 is apparent too. Rising demand for services alongside concerns about secure funding are dominant.

Charities are less resilient than they were before the pandemic, and many relied on government support, such as furlough, or have needed to draw on financial reserves to survive.

Covid-19 has had a massive impact on our charity and the young people we support. They have been affected by isolation, anxiety, media negativity towards young people, greater time on social media leading to increased risk of online grooming and inappropriate content, worries about their education and prospects as a result of lockdown.  In turn the need for support of the community’s young people has massively increased especially with the need for mentoring and we have seen a large increase in referrals.

Wycombe Youth Action

What Happens Next:

Covid-19 Support Fund grantees have shared the value of core funding to meet the demands on their service and we have made this central to our Community and Strategic Funds.

Only with this secure funding will organisations be able to achieve their mission and innovate into new territory, such as becoming more sustainable.

The Covid emergency highlighted the need for streamlined and straightforward application processes for over-stretched charities. Applicants usually hear within one month if their request has been successful.

The pandemic has encouraged us to have more conversations with grantees about their changing needs, and this relational approach continues with applicants for grants of all sizes.

We will continue to listen to applicants and grantees, and propose to share an anonymous survey on our grant-making practise later in 2022.

We will continue to learn from our grantees reports and thank them for sharing their insight and expertise.