On Saturday 23rd January, almost twenty community groups came together at the Queen Mother Moore School in Clapham, a venue with a 30+ year history of activism; from Maya Angelou to Desmond Tutu, and Michael Manley has personally visited this humble place.
Although it was an early Saturday morning, the atmosphere was bright. As someone commented on later in the day, this was a room of people who represented the many corners of society and the people who are at the forefront of working against systems of oppression. Groups included the Focus E15 , Manchester Migrant Solidarity, Sex Workers Breakfast and Belfast Solidarity Federation.
The purpose of the day revolves around shortlisted applicants and Edge Fund members learning more about the work being done by this gathering of experienced community organisations. There was an opportunity for each group to give a two minute presentation, and then we set up stalls around the room to have further in-depth discussion about the nature of the projects and the plans for the Edge funding they would be receiving. We hope that these interactions allow for a cross-fertilisation of ideas, and for the amazing people in the room feel empowered and celebrate one another’s work.
It was great to hear from all the other organisations and the great work that they are doing – The process was really interesting and I think we can learn a lot about the distribution of resources
When not engaging around work, we enjoyed performances from dynamic young performers Maverick and Malachi, two brothers, whose activism takes the form of beatboxing and rapping about their life in Southwest London. As their chorus goes “I’m just trying to keep true to myself, I hate living in a world, we’re unequal we’re confused and abused by material wealth “, which rang so true for the reason why we were all gathered in the room together.
A later performance came from Xana, a member of the Care Collective , a disabled and able-bodied queer trans intersex people led group, created to provide a safe and reliable network for those who need assistance. Creating layers of sound on her looper, the song “Speak proper English” was a powerful hit in a week when David Cameron stated that migrants must learnt to speak English, forgetting his government have dramatically slashed funding for free ESOL classes.
The day ended in the serious business of voting for how much money each shortlisted community group would receive. Everyone in the room was given 30 chickpeas which they dropped into the pots of the projects they thought should get different levels of funding, based on the interactions and sharing during the day.
Prior to the voting, a crucial discussion was started up by one of the applicants as to why we do not share the money out equally amongst groups, a discussion that has been explored by Edge Fund members through the last five founding rounds. It was a significant moment to remind everyone that Edge Fund is membership based organisation, and we welcome input from new members particularly from groups we have funded or may do so in the future. Joining us will enable you to shape how Funding Round 6 will look like.
You can also read more on the this great blog from Michael Hamilton on his experience of the day: http://michaelehamilton.com/a-day-with-the-edge-fund/
Summer may nearly be over this year, but don’t worry… we’ve just opened a new funding round! Please help us spread the word. All the information you need is below.
We would also like to announce that three new regional organisers have joined our team!
- Kwesi is based in London, and will be covering South England and Wales: email@example.com.
- Natasha is based in Manchester and London and will be covering North England and Midlands: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jon is based in Edinburgh, and will be covering Scotland and Ireland: email@example.com.
If you have any questions about Edge Fund membership or applying for our funding, please get in touch with your regional organiser today!
What we fund
We support work run by and for communities facing discrimination and injustice. We fund work carried out by individuals and grassroots groups in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England that find it difficult to get funding elsewhere. Specifically, we fund work that challenges abuses of power and aims to change society by bringing an end to the systems that cause injustice. While applicants may be working on short term reforms, we are looking for applicants that ultimately aim to end or replace these systems with a just alternative, rather than trying to improve or reform them.
What we’ve funded in the past
Have a look at our previous grants to get a better idea of the kind of work we support.
How to apply
To apply for a grant of up to £3,000 you need to answer 5 questions in no more than 2 pages. The deadline for applications is 5pm Sunday 25 October. Read more.
Please get in touch if you need support due to this being your first time of applying for funding, if you’re unsure of what is required, or if you face other challenges. We have members who can assist you. For example, if English is not your mother tongue, or if you are not confident using a computer, you can call 0300 123 1965 or 07767 126 915 and answer the application questions over the phone, or you can email us to arrange a call back. We would also like to hear from past applicants who applied for funding and were not successful. If you intend on applying again for this round, please contact us first to discuss your application.
How it works
Our members decide collectively which applications we fund. We also have Community Committees and Advisory Groups who look at all applications first. The Community Committee members look at applications that are relevant to their own community or identity, for example, disabled people in our membership look at applications relating to disability issues. The Advisory Group members look at applications that are relevant to issues like the environment or economic and political systems, rather than identities and oppressions; for example, environmentalists in our membership look at applications relating to environmental issues. All feedback from the Community Committees and Advisory Groups is shared with the rest of the members to guide their scoring.
At the end of December we will let you know whether your application is being considered for a small or larger grant. Grants of up to £1,000 are given out at this stage. If you are being considered for a grant of over £1,000 we’ll ask you a few more questions and invite you, along with other applicants and members, to come to a meeting where we will all take part in deciding how the funding is shared out. The meeting is planned for Saturday 26 January but we’ll confirm nearer the time. We will talk with you about covering costs of coming to the meeting, if needed.
We need donations
We can only open for applications when we have raised enough money. We welcome donations large and small, and particularly monthly donations as they help us plan for the future. Please donate if you can, so we can keep supporting those taking action for a just and equal world. Read more.
Please help us reach people and groups who don’t normally hear about funding opportunities – share this post via social media and email but don’t forget to also tell people at meetings, events etc, especially if you know they are not often online. We have leaflets and cards we can send to anyone who can help distribute them to people and groups who might be interested in applying. Get in touch if you can help. Thank you!
Edge Fund was formed in 2012 to raise money to support groups taking action for a just, equitable and sustainable world. We fund small, grassroots groups and individuals whose work challenges abuses of power and aims to bring an end to the systems that cause injustice. This could be our economic system, our political system, or any system that discriminates against people based on their identity or background. We are run by our members, who decide how we operate and what we fund. Many of our members come from the groups we fund and we aim to have a membership representative of the range groups and communities we support. More information can be found on the pages below:
Regional organiser x 3
As a member-run organisation we aim to ensure all our members are actively involved in our work and decisions. We’re looking for 3 organisers working 2 days per week in 3 different regions to support members to do this. Whilst the organisers have responsibility for outreach, administration, fundraising and communications, the idea is that they will support members to take on many of these tasks. Some of this will be through the member Working Groups. Whether a member has a particular skill (eg fundraising, organising events) or perhaps a perspective or experience that needs to be heard, it will be the role of the organisers to encourage and support them to take part. What we’re aiming for is an active membership, rather than 3 staff trying to do everything. The posts are for a one year contract.
Location: Edge Fund operates in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, applications are accepted from all regions. We want to further expand our membership outside of London and South England and are therefore keen to receive applications from people based in north England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Applications from people based in London are still eligible.
Pay and employment status: We are happy for applicants to apply as a staff member (PAYE) or to carry out the role as an Associate of Edge Fund, taking on responsibility for their own tax and national insurance etc. The salary for a staff member would be £25,000 full-time equivalent (£10,000 actual pay) for outside London, and £27,000 full-time equivalent for those living in London (£10,800 actual pay). This includes 11.2 days holiday entitlement. As an Associate you could invoice up to a maximum of 728 hours (104 days at 7 hours per day) over 12 months, at an hourly rate of £13.74 outside London, or £14.84 if living in London. Which form of employment you prefer to work will not affect the outcome of your application.
Member support and outreach
- Providing support to members in your region to enable them to participate in Edge activities (eg scoring applications, outreach, taking part in Working Groups). This could include organising local meet-ups so members can get together to discuss issues, share information etc. This would also include working with the Welcome Group to ensure new members are supported.
- Working with members to research, contact and meet up with local groups, including previously funded groups, to recruit new members and applicants. This could be done by organising events and drop-ins.
- Keeping members up to date through the Edge members list and a regular newsletter. This may need printing and posting to some members.
- Working with the Facilitating Group to organise member meetings, including booking venues, ensuring an agenda is put together and we have members who can facilitate and make lunch, booking members’ travel, organising reimbursement of travel expenses, taking and typing up minutes and uploading them on the website.
- Generally keeping an eye on what was agreed at meetings and ensuring action is taken to make it happen, via the staff, Facilitating Group or Working Groups.
- Working closely with other staff, the Facilitating Group, (who are the accountable body for the staff) and the Working Groups within Edge; Communications, Fundraising, Welcome, Sharing, Influencing Funders Groups.
- Along with all members, working to ensure Edge values are upheld throughout the organisation.
The following tasks would be divided up amongst the staff team:
- Ensuring enquiries that come into the firstname.lastname@example.org email account and via phone are dealt with.
- Dealing with donors, including giving bank details where requested, sending thank you notes to new donors.
- Overseeing and administering the funding application process; including logging and categorising applications, working with members to check for eligibility and clarity, sending out scoring sheets, collating all the scores and comments and drawing up the short-list.
- Compiling and sending feedback to applicant groups.
- Overseeing and administering the membership application process; collating membership requests and sending out to the members list, collating comments and sharing that with Facilitating Group before making final decisions.
Communications and fundraising
- Working with the Communications Group and staff to:
- gather stories from the ground (eg articles, podcasts, interviews, film, photos) from funded groups and sharing them on our website.
- manage the social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook), ensuring voices of members are represented.
- manage the design and printing of leaflets and other communications materials.
- work with the media, including sending press releases. This would mostly be independent and grassroots media channels.
- send out the monthly Edge News email to our list of supporters with input from other staff and members from their regions.
- maintain website, ensuring the domain name is renewed when needed etc.
- Working with the Fundraising Group and staff to:
- prepare funding applications
- organise fundraising events
- organise appeals and other aspects of fundraising.
Who we’re looking for
Edge Fund stands for social justice, as such, we believe in being led by those with lived experience of the injustices we seek to address. We have faced some challenges in making this happen to the extent we’d like and hope that employing the right staff will help us to make the changes we need to get us there. We particularly welcome applications from people of migrant backgrounds; people of African and Asian heritage; from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex people; those from working class and low income backgrounds, disabled people and women. Whilst we will accept applications from people with experience of working in the charity and non-profit sector, this is not the kind of experience we are particularly looking for. We value life experience, real connections to communities and shared values over professional qualifications and experience. Long-term unemployed people are welcome to apply.
As we have over 100 members with different backgrounds, perspectives and skills, we’re not expecting applicants to be able to cover everything in the job description. You will need to be well organised and enjoy working with a range of people and groups, including being happy to meet and pick up the phone to people you don’t know.
How to apply
Please complete the Personal Details and Application forms (below) and email this to email@example.com by the deadline of 15 June 5pm. Please make sure you have read our values statement to help you answer question 3 of the application form.
We aim to short-list applications within 2 – 4 weeks of the deadline for the posts to begin mid-August, or earlier if possible. If you would like to apply over the phone or to talk to someone about your application please call 07767 126 915 or 0300 123 1965. If you would prefer to post your application please get in touch for an address. Whenever possible, we try to include people directly affected by our decisions in the actual decision-making process. For example, the process we use to decide which groups we fund was developed by potential applicants, and applicants of each funding round also take part in deciding who receives funding. Therefore, if you have any ideas about the way that we recruit staff for these positions we’d be very happy to hear them. There is space in the application form for you to add your thoughts if you want to.
Don’t bite the hand that feeds you: it’s a well known phrase and few could argue that disagreeing with those that support you is ill-advised if you want that support to continue. It’s a power game all too familiar in the non-profit sector – those with their hands on the purse strings get to dictate what happens with their money; bite ‘em and you won’t see ‘em for dust.
A recent report from NCIA shows clearly the power government funding has over charities, creating a “climate of fear and muzzling of freedom of expression” as charities are told to keep quiet or lose contracts. Corporate funding has a similar affect. Some charities will tell you that their government and corporate donors do not influence what they do. They may also claim that being a registered charity does not restrict them from bringing about radical social change. This may be true in some cases, however it depends on the degree of change they’re seeking.
If you believe that engaging with the current system, talking to politicians and influencing policy is enough to create the world you’d like to live in, then go ahead, register as a charity, maybe even get some government funding. You won’t find too many obstacles in your way. But if you hope for something more – a world free of all poverty, inequality, injustice and environmental destruction, then a more fundamental change is needed, and that’s where the power holders start to feel a bit hot under the collar.
With massive increases in poverty, homelessness and inequality, it is understandable that people would choose to use what spare resources they have to provide for people’s basic needs. Of course we cannot leave people hungry on the street. But we also have to think ahead. We can go out and give a meal to someone who needs it, but the next day there they are again, dependent on someone else’s aid. In other words traditional charity can deal with the consequences of injustice, but it doesn’t get to the root of it.
Government funding is never free of control. The minute you present a real challenge to the agenda that continues to give more wealth and power to the rich and powerful, support will be withdrawn. The same could be said of protesting. It’s OK to protest in this country as long as you won’t win. As soon as you’re in with any chance of winning, the state will come down on you hard.
The very fear of this is what keeps groups that might otherwise dare to stand up to power playing by the rules. The same applies to registered charities: the Charity Commission will attempt to withdraw your status if you get too political. You have to play nice. This is one of the factors that has led to the ‘professionalisation’ of activism, where salaries from big brand charities and other organisations dilute people’s politics and often distance them from the grassroots.
But what has years of playing by the rules achieved? Attempting to reform an inherently unjust system has had very little positive impact on people who were already struggling on low incomes and are now increasingly faced with benefits cuts and reliant on food banks. It’s also breathtakingly obvious that whoever gets into power after May won’t be offering much better.
In 2014 there were many grassroots campaign successes, proving that change from the bottom up works. From the Focus E15 Mothers and the New Era Estate residents, who successfully challenged our corrupt housing system by highlighting current threats to social housing. To the many who stood up and fought for a living wage in their workplaces, including the cinema workers of Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema.
2014 was a year to be remembered, but this year we can do better! Let’s make 2015 the year of grassroots action and people determining their own futures. If you want to have a real impact with your donation, support groups that are free enough, bold enough and optimistic enough to think big.
Even if just 0.1% of the £64 billion that goes to registered charities every year went to small independent groups challenging the status quo and demanding radical social change, we’d stand a much better chance of creating a just and equal world that works for us all.
Get behind the grassroots – join us at our fundraiser Saturday night!
Come to our fundraiser 31 January!
Join grassroots activists, poets and musicians to celebrate the power of the grassroots!
Including Jeremy Corbyn MP, Andy Greene (Disabled People Against Cuts), Shareefa Energy, Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), Pete the Temp, Nina Power (Defend the Right to Protest), I Sis, Anthony Anaxagorou, Spliff Richard, Focus E15 Mothers, Ritzy Living Wage campaign, Siana Bangura, Jembe Explosion and Crazy Divine.
Register using the link below:
(click CC to watch film with subtitles) .
Every year over sixty-four billion pounds is given to registered charities in the UK. The charity sector has become big business, and incredibly there are now over 1,000 charities with an annual income of over £10 million a year. And as competition for money gets tougher, the larger groups continue to take a larger piece of the pie.
Smaller groups struggle to get heard over the big brand charity names, but there’s good reason why they’re worth backing.
The government lures groups to register as charities with tempting benefits such as claiming tax back on donations. But once you’ve become a registered charity you’re restricted by Charity Commission rules, which are being tightened all the time to prevent groups seeking real change. Most larger charities take government and corporate money making them puppets of the very systems that create inequality and injustice. Since often they are carrying out government contracts they literally become an arm of the state, limiting them to work that only provides short-term solutions.
Small grassroots groups, those run by volunteers in their own time, and often with their own money, are closer to what’s going on on the ground. Many of these groups spring up to challenge an injustice their community is facing and are determined to bring about long-term systemic change for themselves and others. They know what their community needs much better than some of the larger charities who claim to work on their behalf, and their independence means they are free to challenge power and tell it like it is.
If just 1% of the £64 billion that goes to registered charities every year went to small independent groups challenging the status quo and demanding radical social change, we’d stand a much better chance of creating a just and equal world that works for us all. In fact, just 0.1% of Save the Children’s £342.6 million annual budget would be revolutionary in the right hands.
For your New Year’s resolution, will you pledge to back radical grassroots groups?
- Donate to a group near you, or if you’re not sure who to support, give a monthly donation to Edge Fund. If you give to a large charity, would you consider moving some of that donation to support grassroots groups working for a world where charity is no longer needed?
- If you’re a charity or other organisation with a large income, meetings rooms, printers and other resources, could you share them with smaller groups?
The average annual income of groups that apply to Edge Fund is £2,500. Small amounts of money go a long way. Make your donation count, move it to the grassroots. Give £10 per month, or choose another amount.
COME TO OUR FUNDRAISER! Saturday 31 January, London. Register here.
On Saturday 6 December Edge Fund members and applicants got together to decide on the allocation of funds between the final 14 applicants of Round 4. Around 60 people took part in the process, which includes short presentations, opportunities to have discussions with the applicants and then members and applicants voting (with chickpeas) to determine how much each applicant receives. As usual, migrant groups did well in this round, and also there were a number of groups working on issues of racism in the criminal justice system, such as deaths at the hands of the police. Grants agreed at the meeting were:
- African Rainbow Family (£5,000)
- London Black Revolutionaries (£3,000) – [grant did not proceed – more info]
- Manchester Migrant Solidarity (£3,000)
- Sex Worker Open University (£3,000)
- United Families and Friends Campaign (£3,000)
- Unity Centre Glasgow (3,000)
- Abortion Rights Campaign (£1,500)
- Coal Action Network (£1,500)
- Foil Vedanta (£1,500)
- Framework Inclusion UK (disability rights) (£1,500)
- Generation Revolution (film about young Black activists) (£1,500)
- Justice for Mark Duggan (£1,500)
- London Campaign Against Police and State Violence (£1,500)
- Sisters of Frida (£1,500)
Prior to the meeting, smaller grants were also given to:
- Cardiff Homeless Action (£1,000)
- Travellers and Roma Against Prejudice (£1,000)
- JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) (£1,000)
- Phillippa Willitts (sexual violence/ victim-blaming) (£1,000)
- Stop and Search Legal Project (£1,000)
- Homeless Tours United (£1,000)
- Re(al)-Productive Health (£800)
- Justice4Paps (£750)
- Shafted?! (£750)
- Anti-Deportation Ireland (£750)
- Asylum Seeker Housing Project (£750)
- REAL Network (£750)
- United Europe Roma (£750)
- Hampshire’s Romanys (£750)
- Frack Free Five Valleys (£750)
- Community Food Growers Network (£500)
- Feeding Manchester (£500)
- Food Not Bombs London (£500)
- Anti Racism Network Ireland (£500)
- ACORN Bristol (£500)
The average annual income of these groups is £2,555, with just two that received over £10,000 last year. Thanks to the crowdfund, we were able to give away more than our usual £40,000 this round. We also all made a collective decision to give the full £5,000 to African Rainbow Family because they received such overwhelming support from everyone at the meeting. Total funds distributed this round was £47,300. A more detailed account of the day to come!