Making the case for core funding

“Core funding. It is more difficult than ever to access. Without our core being supported we can’t take time to be innovative and collaborate with others.”

These powerful words from Rich Flowerdew, Head of Scouts Cymru hung in the air as an introduction to a recent Community Foundation Wales webinar to encourage thinking about how to fund the third sector in Wales most effectively.

Of course, we as funders, know this very well.

We are also familiar with Rich’s second point – charities need feedback about funding bids and how they help groups to learn and improve.

Nodding heads all round for that one too.

So why do donors and funders find it so difficult to change? Why so little core funding, why the dearth of useful feedback, why the constant cycle of project funding?

A possible reason put forward by our panelists was donor nervousness that groups would come to rely on their core funding and develop a reliance on it. It is an understandable view, but the same point could equally apply to any funding support.

An important insight for me was a comment that businesses ‘just don’t get this core funding issue’. A view was shared that the language is off-putting for donors and wouldn’t unrestricted funding be better?

And that’s where we fall down as a sector on this important matter. This vital issue is drowned in a sea of jargon that is pretty inaccessible to the outside world, even to the philanthropist or funder who really wants to make a difference.

Funder and donors can – and need – to take some of the first steps on this issue. However, we need to collectively, alongside charities and community groups, get a bit more savvy and sharper in how we address this and about how we talk about core funding.

I would actually go further than Rich’s words above. The current reality is that many groups and charities need funding to survive. We are now way beyond the point of having time to ponder and reflect on the merits of different funding preferences. We just do not have that luxury in this uncertain time.

Whilst we mull things over, another group goes to the wall and more and more vulnerable people are left unsupported, more youngsters miss out on opportunities and these sources of vital support for our communities in Wales fall apart.

If we ask the sector for their views, we have to listen and act.

Community Foundation Wales is now actively looking for partners and donors wanting to work in this space. We are encouraging our existing donors and funding partners to listen to the overwhelming messages in the Loud and Clear report.

This is as urgent a situation as we have faced – please get in touch if you can help.

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