The CEO of Big Lottery Fund’s ideas on grant-making:
- All grant makers are agents of social change – even the least prescriptive funders are trying to achieve something but key questions are how they define it, what they demand of it and how they deliver it
- Key themes: grantmaking vs other forms of philanthropy; the importance of partners; funders appetite for risk
- There is a lot of talk of ‘new forms of philanthropy’ but statistics may not bear this out – it may be more a case of old practice in new clothes
- Open grantmaking often works because – ‘Random acts of kindness are a strategic choice based on a view that change that sticks is often generated by those closest to need’
- Big Lottery research shows demand-led small grants programmes like Awards for All are doing most to support early action/primary prevention
- Underlying philosophy of grantmaking is to enable others – ‘Our money is the oil that fuels other engines’
- Social change does not just happen because of money – it requires a coalition of the willing and the influential – so grantmakers must think about wider support for the projects they fund
- Funders need to take risks to test ideas – are grantmakers more risk averse than other kinds of philanthropists?
- ‘Knotty problems’ need ‘loose funding over sustained periods of time’ but how long is too long to spend funding an approach which is not yet working?
Source: Alliance magazine