New Report – Listening to our communities
24th May 2022
Andy Payne Worpole, Head of Programmes at ECF, highlights some of the key findings from our Community Listening Project that will help us to further develop our grantmaking and ensure that our funding is accessible:
“We commissioned this report to uncover the challenges faced by the local voluntary sector post-pandemic, better understand their experiences, and find out how we can support their work to help local communities thrive.
“The researcher interviewed organisations of different sizes and a wide range of beneficiaries including, children and young people, older people, refugees and asylum seekers, people living with disability and those experiencing homelessness.
“It was encouraging to know that we are responding to our communities in some of the ways that they need us to eg. the report emphasises the importance for us to continue championing smaller grassroots groups that may find it difficult to access alternative funding sources. Currently two out of five groups we support have an annual income of less than £50,000 and we actively try to engage with these new and smaller groups.
“The report also highlighted organisations’ need for multi-year funding and for us to increase the amount we award in this way. In addition, the importance of providing support for core running costs was important to them. Currently, a third of all our grants support staff salaries and other organisational core costs.
“The need for our grant funding to be accessible was also raised. We continually try to improve our processes and have already simplified our application and monitoring forms to help groups that are looking for funding. We also now offer bookable time slots so that anyone can meet with us to discuss a potential funding application and ask questions.
“We know that groups face a challenging time ahead and access to funding will always be an issue, however the report also highlighted other issues, including:
- The need to up-skill the voluntary sector on areas such as governance, leadership, and finance
- Increasing support for marginalised groups, ensuring equity, diversity and inclusion
- Influencing wider change and actively using local evidence to champion community groups
- Supporting collaboration by bringing groups together to network
“We will continue to listen and keep you informed of any new opportunities to get involved in community listening events. The report is easy to navigate, and we hope you enjoy reading it. If you would like to share your thoughts, please email me via Andypw@essexcf.org.uk.
“I would also like to thank all the community groups and organisations that took part in this research. Your contributions are invaluable.”