Everybody needs good neighbours
I’m old enough to remember the TV programme Neighbours in its heyday. Kylie Minogue, a lovable character called Harold Bishop, and of course that memorable theme tune ‘And that’s why good neighbours become good friends.’
That ear worm was ringing in my head this morning as I digested a new report which looks at how funders work together (or not) and the implications for their local community.
The Strength of Weak Ties report is the work of Tony Chapman, director of policy and practice at St Chad’s College, Durham University. Sourced from the North East of England, much of the report strikes me as being relevant to Wales.
One of its lead findings is that trusts and foundations should work in a ‘neighbourly’ way rather than through formal, integrated strategies.
The headlines in the trade press read that charitable foundations ‘cherish their autonomy’ but don’t make choices in isolation. The report is based on a study of 25 national and regional trusts and foundations.
In my language, that says funders work well together but sometimes their independence is an important strength.
What does that mean for us in Wales?
It’s well documented that our sector here in Wales relies on a small number of national charitable funders and philanthropists, and an equally small number of UK funders who are engaging at scale in Wales.
For me the report affirms that the Wales Funders Forum, capably led by Carol Mack, has a critically important role in bringing funders together. It helps us to connect and provides a space to share.
The findings also made me reflect on the importance of our Trust and Foundations Project, established to improve Wales’ ability to attract UK trust and foundation investment. Whilst led by Community Foundation Wales this is a partnership bringing together funders in Wales and London, together with government and the third sector infrastructure organisations. Each has a strong role to play but we all can achieve our independent aims more successfully by working in partnership.
Wales, probably more than any other part of these isles, needs this approach.
Particularly given the reference yesterday to research showing that 32% of voluntary organisations believe that grant income from foundations will increase in the next two years.
We often forget that whilst we are trying to improve Wales and our ability to attract investment, so is every other area of the UK. We need to get ourselves up to speed and we need to do it faster than other areas of the UK, to address the economic imbalance that we see around us.
The heat is about to rise further, competition will be fiercer – we are going to need our neighbours and friends more than ever.
You can read the report here.