In April 2013 Edge Fund gave out its first grants to support grassroots projects working for radical social change. Activism can be hard and lonely work, so it’s been great to hear comments from members and applicants that Edge has helped introduce them to new people and particularly those who they might not normally cross paths with. We thought we’d try to build on this by organising an event where activists and community organisers can come together and share experiences and skills, hopefully helping us all work more effectively for a just and equal world.
The Forum for Radical Sharing is a gathering for sharing the knowledge gained by the work of the groups we’ve funded, our members and others doing similar work. It is for small (eg under £20k annual income) grassroots groups run by and for communities facing injustice and those considered by most people to be ‘too radical’, both of which find it very difficult to raise funds. It will provide a space for people to talk to each other about their work as well as allowing time for people to work together to overcome common challenges and explore different ways we might support each other. We’d love to have people from a range of backgrounds attend, including women, people of African and Asian heritage and those from LGBTQI, disabled, working class, migrant, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.
Our very first forum is in Manchester, on Saturday, November 8. The venue, MadLab, is fully accessible and some funds are available for transport and childcare.
Please let us know if you’d like to come by emailing sharing-@-edgefund.org.uk (remove the dashes). It’s important you contact us as we’ll need to give you further information beforehand so you can come fully prepared and there are limited spaces. If you know others who might be interested in coming, please feel free to send along the details!
Last week we launched our first ever crowd-funding appeal and have received a total of £3098 donations from over 30 different backers. A big thank you to everyone who has donated so far.
The reason we’re doing the appeal is because we have received hundreds of funding applications, a total of 335 for this funding round. And so we have a problem – we only have enough funds to support around 30 of them, and in most cases are only able to give them a fraction of what they need.
We fund self-organised groups standing up against the injustices they face, whether that’s cuts to benefits, institutional racism, police violence, the abuses of the immigration system or destruction of the environment. We fund groups that aim to dismantle the systems that cause injustice.
It’s hard to believe, but often the work of these small but feisty grassroots organisations is funded by the group members themselves, even when many of them are struggling to get by on low incomes. But whilst they don’t have funding, they do have independence, meaning they are free to tell it like it is. They push for radical social change and are run on passion, resourcefulness and a determination to bring about justice for their communities and others.
We’ve put £40,000 into the pot for this round of applications. That’s really not a lot between 335 applicants and means we can only support about 10% of them. We need to raise more. Please help. One pound each and there will be 20,000 of us. Spread the word.
Web link to the Crowd-Fund: http://gogetfunding.com/project/grassroots-action-for-radical-change
Would you like to take part in deciding which people and groups we fund?
Would you like to have a say in how Edge Fund is run; how we make decisions, raise funds etc?
Edge Fund is a member-run organisation. Our members decide what we fund and how we work together. We officially launched in December 2012 and have run three funding rounds since then, distributing £120,000 to over 80 groups.
Recently we asked our members to complete a survey so we could start to build a clearer picture of who our members are. The results of the survey have helped us to see where we are lacking in representation and also how we can work to address any barriers people face in becoming involved with Edge Fund.
We’re now looking for new members, particularly people from backgrounds currently under-represented in our membership. If you share our aims to bring about a just and equal world through radical social change you are welcome to apply.
Most of our members are involved in many projects and may also have personal commitments that take up a lot of their time, so we do our best to ensure membership of Edge Fund is flexible. The main work of members is reading and scoring applications around three times a year, but there are other roles too for those interested. Most of the work of Edge Fund members can be done from home and we can help cover costs of getting to meetings where needed.
Becoming a member does not stop you from applying for funds for your work, many of our members are former applicants.
To apply to become a member you need to answer 3 questions and the membership fee is just £1.00.
Being a member is a great way to find out about action on the ground to challenge injustices affecting communities across Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England, and to meet the people behind the projects. If you apply before 15 August we should have enough time to deal with your membership application before we start scoring our latest round of funding applications, so apply now if you’d like to take part.
I believe Edge Fund is an amazing, groundbreaking and urgently needed experiment in radical funding. Being a member means I get to meet and make connections with an incredibly diverse and fascinating group of people.
We’ve raised our first £250,000! Our press release with more information is below.
Over a hundred people made donations to support us to get this far, with donations ranging from a few thousand pounds to a few pounds per month. A huge thank you to every one of you! Our long-term aim is to be funded by the grassroots – lots of people giving small monthly amounts. If you’d like us to continue to support grassroots groups on the front lines of injustice and those seeking to bring about radical social change, please set up a direct debit for £10 per month or another amount.
We have recently opened our fourth round, with an application deadline of 8 September.
Radical funding body passes quarter million landmark
Edge Fund, which supports grassroots groups aiming at radical social change, has raised its first £250,000.
Following the motto ‘radical funding for radical change’, funding decisions are put in the hands of those most affected by inequality and oppression. The fund supports groups that are considered ‘too radical’ by most other funders.
Launched 18 months ago, Edge has funded an eclectic range of organisations, from lesbian migrant support groups and Roma community organisers to those opposing police repression, immigration raids and the arms trade, from anti-capitalists and anarchist groups to people working on disability rights, local community organising and climate change.
The fund’s approach has been making waves across the funding world and has struck a chord with those losing faith in the traditional charitable sector’s ability to achieve meaningful change.
Linda Burnip, from grantees Disabled People Against Cuts, said:
“By working in partnership with the grassroots, Edge is leading the way in directing funds to where they are most effective. Edge is simply the most radical and socially responsible funding group, we salute them and all involved”
Edge Fund’s fourth funding round has now opened with grants of up to £5,000 available to support work run by – and for – communities most affected by discrimination, inequality and injustice, and work that aims to create systemic change. The application consists of 5 questions, which can be answered over the phone or by email. The deadline for applications is 5pm on Monday 8 September.
Stephen Pittam, former trust secretary of Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and current trustee of Global Greengrants Fund said:
“Edge Fund is a breath of fresh air in the philanthropy sector. Engaging funders and activists together in deciding how to allocate funds offers a new and radical approach. It shows a way for how philanthropy can move beyond paternalism and doing good to become a real force for social change.”
Edge Fund is now looking for donations to make a fifth funding round possible. For more information about making a donation, applying for funds or becoming a member, go to www.edgefund.org.uk or call 0300 123 1965 or 07767 126 915.
Our review period has now come to an end. We’ll be sharing a summary of the results of the review soon, in the meantime you can read the minutes of our review meetings in London, Manchester and Leicester.
Taking a break from giving out grants has also given us some time to fundraise and we’re now able to open another funding round! Please help us spread the word.
All the information is needed below, or you can download a guide which includes funding criteria, previous grants, how to apply and a sample application.
What we fund
We support work run by and for communities facing discrimination and injustice and work that aims to create systemic change. We fund work carried out by individuals and small grassroots groups in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England that find it difficult to get funding elsewhere. We’re looking for work that creates change in society, rather than traditional support and services work. Read more.
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 £5,000 you need to answer 5 questions in no more than 2 pages. The deadline for applications is 5pm Monday 8 September. 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, (e.g. English is not your mother tongue or you are not confident using a computer). We have members who can assist you. You can also call 0300 123 1965 or 07767 126 915 to answer the application questions over the phone.
How it works
Our members decide collectively which applications we fund. We have an Advisory Group who look at applications first. The Advisory Group 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. Their feedback on the applications is shared with the rest of the members to guide their scoring.
In early November 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 6 December. We will talk with you about covering costs of coming to the meeting, if needed.
Would you like to become a member?
We are also open for member applications. If you’d like to take part in deciding which applications receive funds in our next funding round please apply before Monday 4 August. Read more.
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. Email info-@-edgefund.org.uk (without the dashes) if you can help. Thank you!
After a full year of funding and several month’s of review, we are celebrating the next phase of Edge Fund at an open event in Leicester.
Saturday 14th June, 5.30 – 9.30pm
The Secular Hall
75 Humberstone Gate
The building is wheelchair accessible.
Free entry (donations welcome)
Come along to hear more about Edge Fund, meet some members and find out how you can get involved. There will be performances from Rezz GoGetta, Brother X, Shareefa Energy, I Sis, Marcus Joseph, Boston Williams (The Orator), Calvin Jeffrey, Marlyce Aubrey and an open mic session. The event is being held in Leicester to encourage more people in the region to apply for funds and become members.
Get in touch if you need help with travel costs, we may be able to help.
Please share widely and RSVP to email@example.com.
On 11 January 68 people attended the final meeting of Round 3. Whilst most people came from the London area, people also travelled in, including from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield, Liverpool, Bristol and Derby. We covered travel costs to make this possible. One of the participants, DIY Space for London, wrote a lovely blog about the day, which you can read below or on their website.
It feels like the process is becoming clearer and that people really got a lot out of meeting each other and hearing about each other’s work. The meeting seemed a definite improvement to our first and second attempts. However, there are always improvements to be made, see the end of the page for some thoughts on that.
You can also now read the full list of groups funded in Round 3.
Grant-making with a difference – notes from the Edge (Fund) …
Posted on 14/01/2014 by DIY Space for London
On Saturday 11th January 2014 we were awarded a £1500 grant from Edge Fund!
This is our first non-donated/fundraised income and it means a lot to us for it to come from a funding org run by and for radical groups working on social change. Two representatives from DIY Space for London attended an interactive, democratic funding decision making session which lasted the whole day. It was a really special one for a lot of reasons. Here’s a little bit about what went down..
We arrived at 10.30am to a community centre in Finsbury Park. We were a bit nervous to meet so many new people at once but abundant tea and biscuits and a plunge into Ye Olde Icebreaker, which soon put paid to our worries.
Migrant and refugee organising was well-represented across a range of campaigns including Lesbian Immigration Support (from Manchester) Anti-Raids Network and UK Chagos Refugee Support. Some projects, like Reel News and Green and Black Cross were looking for funding to buy new equipment or redesign their website, while others like Brighton Anti-Fascists were looking for help with budgeting for community outreach projects. The space-based projects like ours and Common House, a meeting space for radical groups based in Bethnal Green (excited to visit soon!) Regardless of their focus, every single person who spoke showed their passion and commitment clearly in the two- minute speech we all gave as an intro.
After this we split into two groups and created stalls where everyone in attendance, including shortlisted orgs, previously funded orgs and Edge Fund members, could quiz each other about their projects, based on previously disseminated info from the simple application form Edge ask for. DIY Space for London as a project was something a lot of people felt interested in, and were keen to offer their thoughts about how to make the space as accessible as possible, how to genuinely connect with the area in which the space will be, how to create a robust but workable system around safer spaces concerns, how to find an affordable commercial lease and how to balance realism with what can sometimes feel like a utopian demand (!). To be bombarded with such productive and informed positive and support was genuinely brilliant, a little overwhelming at times, but very exciting. We had to ask ourselves some tough questions and worked on the answers together with our new friends.
Then, after a break for delicious soups, breads and salads, we sat down to begin assigning scores. This is grant-making with a radical difference – everyone in the room was given a cup of chickpeas (uncooked!) and offered the chance to assign each group up to five chickpeas. The lowest amount a group would receive would be £1,500 (no small fry in itself!) with the maximum being up to £4,500 for one group. Together through chickpeas it was decided that the vital work of Lesbian Immigration Support would be the group to receive this amount. The whoop that went up (not just from that group!) when this was announced, and the sense of positive encouragement was great to see. I left with a to-read and to-do list as long as my arm, and a real sense of having make connections with people who care about the same things as we do, a pool of resources we can build together.
Overall, the day was an inspiring example of building an alternative funding model that really works. they are looking to grow their pot of money, this was round three and while the initial gift that the fund was founded on has got them this far, and enabled one of their members to be a part-time employee of the Fund, they need donations to continue the model and keep it moving forward. Check out their site here for more info about supporting and joining in for £1!
As for DSFL, £1500 is going to make a huge difference, bringing our fundraising total to just over £11,000! We’re about to announce the date of our next OPEN MEETING. It’s been a year since the first one, now it’s time to make this happen!
Improvements from last time
At the end of the meeting we asked people to say one thing positive about the day (noting that critical feedback also welcome via the online survey and review meeting). What really came through was how much people appreciated meeting and learning from other groups and particularly people they don’t normally cross paths with. Here are a few comments and tweets:
I was having so many good conversations that at one point I forgot I’d come for funding!
The process was really transparent and honest.
I was moved by people’s courage, grateful to people speaking openly about their experiences.
I was worried about it feeling very tense between all the groups but it wasn’t like that at all. People asked critical questions but in a positive way.
Funding is brutal and alienating, makes you rivals. This is the complete opposite as you vote for each other and then you’re happy when people get more than you. That’s not supposed to happen!
Often you have to lie in applications and tell funders what they want to hear. Here you don’t have to. Can answer questions honestly.
We came for the funding but stayed to meet others.
It was a real eye-opener. Thanks to everyone for educating me about what the media doesn’t tell us.
Overwhelmed by the power in this room. Amazing to see people from previous rounds part of the process.
One big improvement was the number of people who took part. In Round 1 and 2 around 40 people came, this time we had 68! All the final 14 groups came, plus 13 people from groups that received small grants came (2 of which members). The 2-minute presentations worked well, even though they were brief, it helped to put names to faces and to get an overview of all the groups. Generally the day seemed to run much smoother than previously and felt less rushed, partly because of it being the third time and being clearer on what we were doing, but people also commented that the facilitation was good. People also seemed more comfortable participating than last time.
It felt like there was more time to get to know other groups, perhaps because of the 2-minute presentations or the extra half hour before lunch (presentations ended early). We also had more printed applications for people to read on the day, but could probably have done with more still.
The venue was more convenient for those travelling into London from Manchester etc since it was just 3 stops on the tube from Euston, but by bus it was much longer.
Areas to improve
We’re still waiting for some more feedback to come in and will be reviewing the process thoroughly during the annual review, but some thoughts so far include:
Making people welcome
In this meeting, as previously, we put people on the door to welcome people as they arrived, but they always seem to then end up with another task to do so we don’t always do a good job of welcoming people as they come in. We need to have a bigger team of helpers and to make sure there is always someone on the door. We also need to work on the idea of pairing up members with groups, especially where only one representative of a group attends the meeting, to give support where needed.
We should have let people know in advance which of the groups who received small grants were going to be there so people could make the most of the networking opportunity – we should also make it clearer on the day and give those groups some recognition.
A few things should have been organised further in advance. The venue was booked late, and then we had last minute problems relating to equipment needed to cook and serve food. It also resulted in us buying plastic cups (which were washed and will be reused). The venue was also a little small for us.
Responding to people’s needs
Although the venue was fully DDA compliant, there was a wheelchair lift to take people down just 2 steps to the main area, which was not ideal. It would be better to start a little later in the day for people travelling from outside London and for people who cannot use the tube and therefore rely on buses, which can take longer. We need to be more aware of people’s needs around food, in particular, whether people are happy to eat food from shared pots. We do ask for this information, but should be more aware of cultural factors.
Preparation for participants
There’s still a lot of reading to do for people before the meeting. All the final applications totalled 60 pages. Even with two or three weeks to read it, it’s a lot. We could give people longer to read the applications, but this would then make the process longer.
The main glitch in the process was that groups that had applied for less than £1,500 didn’t need to be there since the minimum grant is £1,500. At the moment, short-listed groups that have requested £1,000 or less get their grant without having to answer the additional 5 questions or come to the meeting. So groups that have applied for over £1,000 (and less than £1,500) end up at the final meeting when they don’t need to be.
For the 2-minute presentation it would be good to give a visual sign for 30 seconds left, rather than verbal (otherwise you have to interrupt people), we should be stricter on time keeping (one group went over) and let them know which order they’ll be presenting in. Facilitators should try to keep a check on jargon during the presentations and throughout the day.
Some people still feel uncomfortable about the competitive element.