We believe in regularly reviewing how we’re doing and making changes as we go along to improve how we work. We will never be a finished project! In early 2015 we had two meetings, in London and Manchester, to discuss some proposals put forward by the Facilitating Group (a group of Edge members). These discussions led to revised proposals which were then voted on via a survey, either online or by post. Our aim is to reach consensus, therefore, if anyone disagrees with the majority of members on a particular point we find out what their concerns are and work with them to address them within the most popular proposals. Here are the decisions that came out of the 2015 review:
1. Values statement
We wrote a new values statement: https://edgefund.org.uk/about/our-values
With a statement to describe how we put these values into action: https://edgefund.org.uk/about/our-values/values-of-change
Previously the only values we had written up related to funding specifically (funding values). We wanted to make our values clearer for applicants, donors and new members.
2. Funding criteria
We agreed on new funding criteria:
Edge Fund supports those taking action for a just, equitable and sustainable world. We fund work that 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 (eg class, ability, gender, race, nationality, religion, sexuality, age or other factors).
We used to have two separate funding criteria, one for groups run by and for communities facing injustice and one for groups working towards systemic change. There was overlap between the two categories, but the separation suggested that groups run by communities facing injustice were not working for systemic change. We wanted to make clearer that when we talk about systems we’re not just referring to our economic system and political systems, but also any system that discriminates against people based on their identity or background.
We also wanted to be clearer that we are looking for groups working to bring an end to the systems that cause injustice, rather than those trying to make changes to them.
We agreed to move from 1 co-ordinator working 3 days a week, to 3 regional organisers working 2 days per week each (total 6 days). The positions will be for one year. We will then review and decide whether to continue with the posts (depending on our financial situation and whether the new staff structure has achieved it’s aims).
Even with over 100 members taking on a variety of tasks, from reading and scoring applications to organising events, 3 days a week paid time was not enough to keep on top of admin and organisational work and do important work like supporting members and outreach to find new members and groups to fund. Having staff spread out around the UK and Ireland will help us build our membership outside London and the South. Recruiting staff from communities we’d like to see better represented in our membership will help us become more diverse and inclusive.
4. Scoring system
a) We will now have Community Committees and Advisory Groups. Community Committees will be made up of members of a specific identity/ background who will score applications relating to their own community and guide other members on those applications. Advisory Group members will offer guidance on applications relating to issues they have particular knowledge of (eg a member active in the environmental movement could offer advice about environmental applications as they are likely to know some of the issues, groups involved etc). Before both types of groups were called Advisory Groups and we wanted to show the difference between groups that exist to try to provide accountability to different communities and those that are based on particular knowledge.
b) The scoring system will be simplified so that members just score applications out of ten. Before we had a system where for every 10 applications members had 50 points to divide between them, with a maximum of 10 per application. This caused some confusion and could not easily be done without a computer.
c) We will now hold member meetings to discuss applications before scoring and short-listing. Many members said they would value this, rather than just scoring on their own.
d) We’ll allow people from groups we’ve funded to attend the meeting and score the applications, provided they agree with our values statement (on a trial basis). This will increase the number of people involved in scoring, reducing the number of applications each member has to score and improving our decision-making. They won’t be able to join Advisory Groups or Community Committees unless they then sign up as members.
e) We will apply some new short-listing methods (reweighted average and Reweighted Range Voting) to the last round of application scores and compare the short-list that comes out with the actual short-list in the last round. We will then decide if we want to use these new methods in future (we feel they may be fairer, but they are harder to understand than the current system).
5. Making decisions outside of meetings
When we need to make decisions in-between meetings we will continue with the current system where the Facilitating Group will ask members to vote on proposals via email or phone, and then we will work to find a solution that everyone is happy with.
We will keep our members email list for announcing important information, such as upcoming Edge meetings. The edgeinfo list can be used for discussions or sharing other non-essential information.
6. Long-term funding of sets of groups
We will develop an idea of funding sets of groups, made up of groups working on different issues/ from different communities, over 3 years. Groups will be brought together twice a year to share with each other what they’ve been doing. We would also work with groups to help ensure financial sustainability beyond the 3 years. We recognise that long-term, secure funding is really important for groups and would like to find a way to do with, even with limited funds.
7. Maximum grant
We agreed to reduce the maximum grant groups can apply for from £5,000 to £3,000. Our current process only allows for grants over £3,000 (and up to £5,000) under ‘exceptional circumstances’ but this is very difficult to define and many groups were applying for £5,000 when in reality they were very unlikely to get that much.
8. Change in funding application questions
We slightly changed the application questions to include a question about whether the applicant works with other groups as members often ask this question when scoring applications.