An update on our response to the Coronavirus crisis
Two weeks into the most challenging phase of the crisis in the UK, we are acutely aware of the commitment and hard work of our colleagues in the charitable sector to manage the overwhelming impact on services, projects and people. See below an update on what we have been doing so far, and how we feel we can best help at this time.
The Trust team has moved to working at home; grantees’ points of contact are still available as usual by email, phone and videoconferencing, but inevitably all meetings for the foreseeable future have had to be rearranged. All our funding commitments are being fully honoured and we will not be pausing payments, though some changes to our payment schedule may be made in consultation with grantees. The Trust’s funding base is secure.
On the 16th March 2020, we added our support to the national funders’ pledge initiated by London Funders, which can now be found here. The pledge summarises the main routes through which we have immediately offered support at this challenging time.
Since then, we have emailed all current grantees to let them know about the pledge. This has encouraged many to contact us to let us know what the impact of this crisis is likely to be – on their people, organisations, projects and services. The long term outlook is not yet clear, but we are keeping in touch and reaffirm our appetite to understand each organisation’s unique position and to help where we can.
For some, this has already meant converting project funding into core grants. With others, we are supporting revised delivery plans, and elsewhere, planned developments have been put on hold. Some discussions regarding additional, emergency funding requirements are underway.
Re-focusing our Funding
Our Trustees took the decision on 19th March to ringfence up to £500,000 for emergency, shortfall funding for existing and recent grant recipients impacted by this crisis. As a relational, multi-year funder, these are organisations whose work and people we tend to know well; focusing our funds here means that we can move quickly and effectively.
With over 70 projects being funded at present, this route is considered a last resort; we won’t be able to offer financial assistance to all, but neither do we expect this to be required. We expect applicant organisations to have first looked at how they can best a) reorganise and react, and b) repurpose people and existing funding, and we will need to understand their overall financial position. We will ask organisations about what other funding and support options are available to them. We are in regular contact as a Trust team and therefore able to make decisions relatively quickly.
We are not progressing any of the proposals in our pipeline or previously under discussion at present. Organisations directly affected by this decision have been informed.
None of us know with any certainty what the future will be like for the charitable sector once this crisis passes. We expect that there will be aftershocks, and that the many impacts will continue to surface once the immediate emergencies have been overcome. At present therefore, we expect that our future funding strategy will retain an element of core funding provision as well as being used to support new collaborations and resource developments that have sprung from this period and that will help build resilience in the sector. We will continue to learn about where our involvement can be of greatest impact in a changing landscape.