Site search Main menu

OCT Impact Report 2022-23

As a funding organisation that strives to be Open and Trusting, we know that accountability within our sector applies to funding organisations and front line charities alike. To this end, we commit time to analysing our own activity each year, and are pleased to share a summary of our work in 2022-23. Please see a visual summary here.

Our approach is to monitor our performance against the metrics that are important to us, such as: the size of the organisations we have funded, the geographical spread, the diversity of the leadership. It also enables us to see what proportion of funding has been committed to our target outcomes, as well as within our four focus areas.  The results invite us to check for assumptions and biases, scrutinise our decision-making, and they inform future decision-making.

The discovery element of this process lies in the fact that because we take a relational approach to funding, we try to respond to organisations’ needs ‘where they are’. Although we are clear about the what, the why and the how of our work, methods can take many different forms. Over the course of a year, goals around health, for example, may be reached through activity based in the cultural sector, and in the environment sector; or cultural goals may be met by organisations working in the social justice space. The reporting process helps ensure that we remain close to our Purpose Framework.

Here are 10 of the most significant findings from 22/23, followed by some actions we have agreed to take in 23/24:

  1. The number of grants made, and the number of organisations funded have all continued to increase this year, after a decrease in 21/22.
  2. Health funding has risen to meet the level of Social Inequality funding – the previous highest spend area.
  3. Health grants remain much larger per grant on average than social inequality grants; health grants in this year being more strategic, research based, or capital in the main.
  4. Environment funding is at a consistent level, but did not increase within this time period, despite significant focused activity here.
  5. We have continued to make core and unrestricted grants, and at a higher level than last year, across both the number and value of these grants made. 
  6. Funds benefitted a larger number of small organisations this year compared to last, but the total funding they received remained the same as last year. 
  7. The number of organisations we funded that work with fewer than 100 people reduced by 12%.  
  8. We’ve seen fewer new grants go live this year and fewer first time grantees. 
  9. Fewer than half of grants made this year were multi-year grants compared with two thirds last year, despite our encouragement of multi-year funding. There has definitely been a trend towards a need for more short term funding – either to test an idea or for future scaling.
  10. The number of organisations working towards the outcome ‘Stronger third sector organisations that are more able to challenge inequitable policies and systems’, has more than doubled when compared to last year.

Agreed actions for 23/24:

  • To continue to increase our focus on environmental activity, including through the Green Grants programme.
  • To consider the scarcity context in assessing requests from small charities, which often operate without sufficient resources. Ensure small, effective charities can get further faster by ensuring full funding is provided.
  • To be clearer with applicants about our application window, to ensure funds are being efficiently channelled to first time applicants that have an immediate need.

The reporting discussed here refers to our own assessment of our own work; this isn’t about the impact delivered by the many organisations we support. Those monitoring reports demonstrate that positive change is happening across sectors and communities, as do the many powerful stories from the community that accompany them. We have decided that attempting to collate that data would not provide us with meaningful results. So much of the work we support relies on very specific relationships, cohorts of people, localities, or challenges; by engaging with colleagues and the work supported, we believe we are able to get the best understanding of the difference it is making – and therefore become more useful and informed in the process.

In addition to our own scrutiny, our practice has also been being reviewed by the Foundation Practice Review (FPR) team, in terms of Accountability, Transparency and Diversity. This annual review of 100 randomly selected funding organisations seeks to enhance practice across these crucial lines, set standards and raise awareness of the impact of funder behaviour. Organisations cannot opt out.

We are pleased to have been awarded a rating level: B (A is good, D is not). This represents a score of A for Transparency, B for Accountability and C for Diversity.  Detailed findings are described in the FPR’s reports; we will review these and ensure we take the action we can to improve our practice and our rating in future years.

There is always more to do, and at a time when crises abound, we are looking forward in 23/24 to sustaining funding levels, accelerating infrastructure support, and striving to perfect new mechanisms. Impact in all its interpretations remains central to our work; the data, at the very least, helps show us how to deliver more for communities in 23/24.