“Thank you so much for a lovely art session. It was very calming and good for the soul, please hold more events like this.”
The blogs we publish feature contributions from team members, collaborators and partners. In this editon, Sue Macartney, our Development Manager, reflects on her experience within the funding landscape and how we measure success in the Third Sector.
Over the last fifteen years I have worked with a range of organisations, from community groups to national charities, in the process of accessing grant funding. Over this time I have seen the industry landscape be transformed, fundamentally impacting how we measure success in its wake.
The holy grail for organisations like Albatross Arts is the ability to become financially sustainable and we never lose sight of this goal, but that takes time and can feel like chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The next best thing is core funding which supports a more sustainable approach. It provides breathing space and enables organisations to remain focused upon the big picture core values without the need to constantly chase the next funding wave or develop a project to ‘fit’ guidance. It also allows the time to develop a two way relationship with a funder, enter into a narrative and deliver meaningful impact.
In my experience, project specific funding is still much coveted, but for smaller organisations that are fortunate enough to have the capacity to secure multiple small grants along with the ongoing management and reporting. Fortunately many funders appreciate the challenges of volunteer led organisations and are working hard to make the process less onerous.
Good management of funds and meaningful, quality impact reporting is just as important as the initial application. Impact reporting starts with building organisational buy-in, understanding outcomes and capturing the nuances of impact whether it be big life changing events or ‘in the moment’ off the cuff remarks. It takes a whole team approach and should not be considered as an afterthought or chore, but a useful tool to help us to reflect upon our work and how we develop our services in the future.
Securing funding takes an enormous amount of patience, stamina and positive thinking. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I do believe in teamwork; engaging with funders to establish a relationship, working collaboratively to seek guidance from others within your immediate organisation or externally and that submission of consortium applications should not be underrated. The world can often feel like a lonely place when faced with a funding quest, but we need to drop our egos and work together.
There is no doubt the funding environment is challenging and the COVID grant boom has come to an end, but the need for small organisations to support our communities has not diminished. They offer lifelines to many and can be an effective first line of defence in tackling many challenges. Maybe it’s time for organisations to think smarter.
Success is more than just the excitement of securing funds. It’s an entire process from the initial application draft to submission of the final impact report. It’s about team ownership, idea sharing, celebration of the good news and supporting colleagues through the disappointments, of which there are many. The funding landscape may be confusing and ever changing but it is also shared, and it is time we start acting like it.