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Annual Report Summaries


Year ending 31 January 2014

In April 2012 a group of donors and activists came together to talk about setting up a new fund which would support social change work as well as actively working to break down power dynamics in funding. Our approach is based on democracy, accountability and transparency and funding grassroots activism for systemic change. By January 2013 we’d raised over £100,000, became registered as a Community Benefit Society and had our first 15 members.

Our launch party in 2012

During our first accounting year we ran three funding rounds, agreeing grants totalling £120,000. We worked hard to develop our very own process for distributing funds which involves donors, activists, community organisers and the applicants themselves. After each funding round we asked both members and applicants to give feedback on the process so that we could improve it the next time. A particular focus has been on being accountable to people with lived experience of the issues who would potentially be affected by us funding an application, for example, we try to ensure that disabled people in our membership have the first say when it comes to funding applications relating to disability.

We fund disabled peoples campaigning and direct action groups, including the excellent DPAC, and Black Triangle

Our new approach to grant-making has started to attract the attention of others in the philanthropy field and we were asked to speak at several events, such as Environmental Funders Network effectiveness workshop, University of Kent’s Social Justice Philanthropy Conference and London School of Economics Re-claiming Democracy in the Square: Recent Social Movements and Civil Society Activism event. We also had several articles published online and in print and have started working with other funders with similar values. Through this work we aim to promote our model of grant-making.

Since the organisation was founded the structure of Edge Fund has develop ed from a small team of 15 initial members to over 100 members. We have several Working Groups working on topics such as communications and fundraising and a Facilitating Group which oversees the fund’s operations and keeps things moving on. We have a part-time paid co-ordinator but all other members give their time voluntarily. All our members have an equal say, whether they have donated to the fund or not. We aim to be inclusive and to support members to take part, for example, we cover costs of getting to meetings where needed.

For the future our aims are to focus on improving representation of different communities within the membership to ensure the organisation is led by people with first hand experience of the issues we aim to address, to raise more funds and improve our processes. Our funding process brings people together who may not cross paths otherwise; we hope to build on this and develop ways to enable Edge members and grantees to learn from and support each other across issues and movements. We also have plans for building relevant skills within the membership itself.

Summary of finances – 14 Jan 2013 to 31 Jan 2014
Donations £221,161
Grants paid out £108,370
Other costs £21,552

Full Annual Accounts 2013/14

Year ending 31 January 2015

Our second financial year began with a review of our first year as a fully operating fund. As a young organisation committed to trying new approaches that fully live up to our values around justice and equity, we feel it’s important to take time to step back and see how we’re doing and to constantly evolve. The review process meant we only had one funding round during the year but it was far from a quiet year.

Review of year one

The review process involved meetings with members in London, Manchester and Leicester. Our Facilitating Group, a group of around 6-8 members, worked hard behind the scenes to identify processes or concerns that needed attention and to prepare proposals for discussion at members’ meetings. The review process came to an end in June, with a meeting in Leicester, followed by an outreach event featuring local music and spoken word performances. The review resulted in the Working Groups (communications, fundraising, sharing, welcome, influencing funders) having a clear remit and budget for the year ahead, as well as changes to the membership and funding application processes as well as other changes. The outcome of the review can be seen on our website.

Grants

We regularly support campaigns in Ireland demanding women have the right to choose

In our fourth funding round we received 330 applications, we were able to offer funds to around 10% of these requests. We have now donated a total of £165,000 to 113 groups. A full list of our grants is available on our website.

Fundraising

Our aim is to be funded by many people giving what they can as monthly donations. This is in keeping with our grassroots approach. We have just under one hundred regular donors and still rely very much on one-off donations of larger amounts. Just before the end of the year we received a donation of £80,000 which has given us some much needed security to plan for the future.

Other work

Our members and applicants voting on which groups get the largest grants

During the year we organised several events. In September we held our first Introduction to Edge event, for people interested in becoming members. Our Sharing Group put a lot of work into designing and organising our first Forum for Radical Sharing, an event designed to bring a diverse range of groups together to learn about each other’s work and to share skills, tactics and resources, which took place in Manchester in November. In December we had the final funding day of Round 4, where applicants and members come together to decide on how the funds are shared out amongst the short-listed groups. At the end of the year our Fundraising Group organised our Get Behind the Grassroots crowdfund and fundraising event (which raised nearly £6,000). We also took part in other events. For example, we gave a presentation at the Why Charity? The Politics and Ethics of Charity at Brighton University and took part in the launch of Funders for a Just Transition, a European funders initiative.

This year we also continued our work to spread the word about Edge Fund and our approach to funding. This included articles published with New Left Project, Guardian, GrantCraft, OpenDemocracy and Strike magazine. Links to these articles can be found on our website. We also produced a short video to give more insight into Edge and how we operate.

One of our main aims is to promote the use of transparent, accountable and democratic processes, particularly within grant-making. Part of this is working hard to ensure our process works as that’s an important part of convincing others to use a similar approach. Our Influencing Funders group is our most active Working Group and works to reach other funders. We often receive enquiries from other funders keen to learn from our process and during the year met Tudor Trust, Lankelly Chase Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn, Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer, Forward Foundation, Young Foundation and Biscuit Fund. In October 2014 New Philanthropy Capital named Edge Fund as one of ten innovators in global philanthropy . We were also nominated for a Beacon Award for Philanthropy, under the Outstanding Partnership between a Philanthropist and a Charity category.

Members & staff

We support migrant and refugee campaigns that are making a real difference

During the year we asked all our members to take part in a survey so we could get a better understanding of the make-up of the membership, people’s interests and needs. We shared this information on our website. One of the main reasons for the survey was to allow us to address gaps in terms of representation of different identities and communities. We received over fifty membership requests over the year, requiring us to spend more time on how to deal with these requests. As a member-run organisation, new members could have an impact on our values and direction so this needs careful thought. Unfortunately, this became a drawn out process, resulting in few new members joining this year.

In August one of our members was involved in an emergency situation and called on our help. We took a collective decision to use £2,000 of our funds to get her out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she was being held against her will by her family, who wanted to ‘fix’ her sexuality (more info).

Throughout the year we had one paid member of staff, a co-ordinator, paid for 3 days per week. During this year we began discussions about what staffing we needed to cope with the workload and to help us achieve our aims.

Summary of finances – 1 Feb 2014 – 31 Jan 2015
Donations £159,836
Grants paid out £56,377
Other costs £18,659

Full Annual Accounts 2014/15

Year ending 31 January 2016

At the beginning of the financial year we were in the process of a review. Edge Fund has grown very quickly and we needed to respond to this by assessing where we were at and what changes were needed. The review consisted of writing a new values statement, devising a new staffing structure as well as making some more minor changes to the application process. The values statement can be read on our website.

The review process consisted of meetings held in both London and Manchester and then a final survey which 50 members took part in.

Staff

Following the review, we adopted a new staffing structure, moving from one co-ordinator working 3 days per week to three regional organisers working 2 days per week in three different regions. In total we received 146 applications, 15 of whom were interviewed by Skype and then 7 in person. The selection process involved our members and was done collectively. The co-ordinator post ended in March and the new staff started in August on a year’s contract.

Funding

Our fifth Funding Day in London

Our fifth funding round opened in August and we received 244 applications. The final funding day, where applicants and members get together to allocate funds, took place 23 January in London. Grants totalling over £40,000 were agreed. A list of groups funded is on our website.

Outreach and events

We organised fundraising workshops at Spark! Festival (July), Earth First summer gathering and Peace News summer camp (August). At Spark! We also ran a session called My Art is my Weapon: A People’s Art is the Genesis of their freedom. We ran a session on funding and power at the Institute of Fundraising National Convention (July) and ran stalls at both the Bristol and London Anarchist Bookfairs (April and October) and had a small space at Green Gathering (August). We also took part in a fundraising skillshare for New Economics Organisers Network.

We also organised our own events. We continued with our trial of events, named Forum for Radical Sharing, which are designed to bring different groups together to learn from each other. The first was held in Manchester in 2014, we then held one in London (May) and Glasgow (November).

In 2017 we funded the anti-racist campaigning organisation Black Lives Matter UK

Three groups (Migrant Artists Mutual Aid, Lesbian Immigration Support Group and Action for Trans* Health) that met at the Manchester Forum for Radical Sharing then got together to organise Resilience Festival of Solidarity (July). We worked with them to put on the event which included performances, a raffle and auction.

Influencing Funders

Our Influencing Funders Group remained our most active working group. We attended events and continued working with other funders to spread the word about participative and democratic funding processes. For example, we ran a session on Flat Philanthropy at NPC Ignites (October), We held a ‘Philanthropy Cafe’ at Understanding Philanthropy conference (June) and, having been nominated for an award, attended the Beacon Awards ceremony (April).

An Edge member attended the Engaged Donors for Global Equity (EDGE) Funders Alliance 2015 Just Giving Conference in Baltimore USA (April) on a panel titled ‘Why Structural Change in Society Will Require Structural Change in Philanthropy’. This also lead to giving a presentation to US foundation Heinz Endowments who later attended our funding day, with the aim of applying the process to their own funding streams. We also attended the EDGE Funders Alliance in France (July).

Summary of finances – 1 Feb 2015 – 31 Jan 2016
Donations £115,115
Grants paid out £27,400
Other costs £21,346

Full Annual Accounts 2015/16

Year ending 31 January 2017

Grants

Our funding day in Manchester for Round 6

Our sixth funding round completed in the 2016/17 financial year. The round 5 funding day took place in London 23 January 2016, agreeing grants of £40,000, just before the 215/16 year end and there were still some grants to pay. Round 6 opened in May 2016 and the application deadline was extended and pot increased by £20,000 to a total of £60,000, in response to political events. This resulted in us receiving a massive 380 applications. The funding day took place in Manchester 1 October 2016. Total grants paid out in the financial year totalled £73,338. Follow this link for a report on our funding day.

Fundraising

Donations received this year totalled £46,258. This included around 100 regular donors (bringing in around £19,000) and some larger one-off donations (totalling around £27,000). In the first few years of Edge Fund we received three large donations of around £80,000 – £90,000 which has sustained us until now and put us in the fortunate position of not having to focus too much on fundraising. However, this will now need to change.

Influencing Funders

In 2016, the Influencing Funders Group (Edge members Susan, Isis, Patrick and Rose, supported by input from other members and staff) presented the Edge Fund to influential? funders in five major events and more than half a dozen individual meetings and articles.

Two funders that we had worked with previously, Heinz Endowments and Brixton Pound, got in touch to say that they had been influenced by us to use our process as part of their grantmaking.

In the previous year (January 2016), Isis had facilitated a visit to London for  Heinz Endowments, where they attended our funding day. They subsequently donated $5000 to Edge as ‘consultancy fees’, which we have used to support some influencing funders activities over the year.

Edge Fund doing a workshop at an EDGE Funders Alliance conference

We were represented at the EDGE Funders Alliance conference in the US by Rose in April 2017. At this, we met many like-minded funders, such as Pollination Project, who asked to be added to the ‘other funders’ page on our website, as well as taking part in sessions on alternative philanthropy.

We also attended an EDGE Europe event in Paris in June 2016, where Rose supported the session on setting up a new participatory grantmaking fund.

We were invited to present at an event for UK foundations titled ‘Funding People-Powered Change’ in June 2013. This was an academic from the US, Hahrie Han, who was on a tour supported by ActionAid. Edge member Natasha Adams organised it, Rose presented on Edge Fund, and Edge member Susan Seymour attended.

Patrick attended the launch of the Radical Renewable Art & Activism Fund in July 2016, where they spoke of being inspired by seeing Sophie speak about Edge Fund. Isis met with the International Human Rights Funders Group in New York in September 2016. They invited us to join, especially as they have a participatory grantmakers group, and agreed to waive our registration fees, so we joined later in 2016.

Rose went to a workshop in December 2016 where she presented on Edge to a group of funders and European civil society activists, where the intention was to look at new participatory funding models. Natasha then went to the follow-up workshop in January, to support the establishment of a new participatory fund. They were sponsored by EDGE members Open Society Foundation Initiative in Europe, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation, Guerrilla Foundation and the European Cultural Foundation. Rose wrote a report for them on the December meeting, for which they donated 200 Euros to Edge.

In December 2016, Isis went to the Global Summit for Community Philanthropy in Johannesburg, sponsored by the Global Fund for Community Foundations. She presented a poster which she’d put together (showing our process and purpose), which we now use for other events.

While Rose was living in South Africa in January 2017 she attended a meeting in Johannesburg organised by Civicus, mainly for international funders (including government, corporate etc, not just foundations or community philanthropy). She gave the only formal presentation of the week, on the Edge Fund model as an ‘alternative future’.

We support environmental direct action, such as the squatted community food project protesting airport expansion – Grow Heathrow

Isis has written an article for Indie Philanthropy website about Edge. Susan and Isis met the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust who were doing doing a review of the funding and wanted some input. We also met with the Seedbed Trust, Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, and the Baring Foundation.

At the end of 2016 we also spent a lot of time preparing for three major events happening in early 2017. We were asked to present at: the EDGE conference, the European Foundation Centre conference, and the Network for Social Change conference.

Outreach and events

We held several Fora for Radical Sharing, to bring our applicants together to support one another

Our main outreach events are our funding days, fundraising workshops, occasional fundraisers and Forum for Radical Sharing, which aimed to bring groups together to share learning and create an environment that might support collaboration. We have run 3 Forums for Radical Sharing, in Manchester, London and Glasgow, and an evaluation was written up and shared with members in February 2016. No decision has been made as yet about the future of these events.

We held an application workshop in Glasgow 22 June. In May Natasha ran a session on fundraising at Campaign Bootcamp. Kwesi was also involved in Spark!, an event consisting of workshops and other sessions focused on social justice.

Staff

Much of our resources go into supporting an accessible and democratic process. Our staff work hard to get word out across the UK and Ireland to various movements and groups, and support applicants to apply. We take time to check applications for clarity to ensure each applicant as fair a chance as possible at being successful.  Applications are also categorised so that they first go to their relevant Community Committees (disability & health, LGBTQI+, low income/ working class, women/ oppressed genders, race & ethnicity, gypsy, traveller & Roma, migrants & refugees) and Advisory Groups (environment and political/ economic systems). Staff then support members to score applications, collate the scores, draw up short-lists and then organise the funding days, which also involves arranging travel for groups to attend. Staff are also responsible for recruiting and supporting new members.

Another time-consuming part of our process is providing feedback to applicants who have requested it to guide their future applications. Part of being accountable and fair to applicants is taking the time to investigate and resolve concerns when groups feel their applications have not been given due consideration. This can be a lengthy process, often involving meeting the group.

We support campaigns and organisations that aim to fundamentally reform our justice system, including the very successful Joint Association Not Guilty By Association campaign

We are committed to constantly evaluating and changing our processes, with input from both members and applicants. For example, this year, with fresh eyes from new staff, we developed a new application form and made changes to the questions to help guide applicants better.

This year was a steep learning curve. The staff were still relatively new in post, having started August 2015 with a lot to learn about the processes, values and membership. The Edge membership also had a lot to learn about employing staff and getting the balance right between working without hierarchy and providing guidance and direction. Jury service and bereavements also made it a difficult time personally for staff and in terms of managing workload. At the end of the year, after a full review of the staffing structure, we restructured to move from three 2-day a week regional organiser roles, to two 3-day roles with greater emphasis on administration and communications and fundraising.

Members

We have funded Sisters Uncut, which is an exciting feminist direct action group taking action to defend domestic violence services

At the beginning of the financial year we had 105 members. However, many of these members joined some time ago and were not active. At the last AGM we agreed that we would formally ask members to confirm their membership each January to ensure that the membership was committed and to give us a clearer idea of who are members are. We did this for the first time in January 2017, with 36 members confirming their membership. At the AGM we also agreed that we would formally ask funded groups to assist with scoring applications in the next funding round, which takes pressure off us having to maintain a large membership but also ensures there is some healthy turnover amongst those scoring applications.

Members make up our Facilitating Group (FG), which takes care of work behind the scenes and keep things moving. The FG usually comprises between 6 and 8 people.

This year we agreed upon a new process for new member applications. Rather than new members doing a trial scoring exercise, which is time-consuming for new applicants and those supporting them, we agreed that they would instead take part in the next funding round but that their scores and comments would be checked by the FG before being accepted, in consultation with Community Committees and Advisory Groups as necessary.

During the year the following members meetings took place:

  • 26 March 2016 – Members meeting, London
  • 28 April 2016 – Members meeting, Scotland
  • 7 July 2016 – Members’ working day in London – checking over applications
  • 3 Sept 2016 – AGM and members meeting
  • 1 October 2016 – Round 6 funding day, Manchester
Summary of finances – 1 Feb 2016 – 31 Jan 2017
Donations £46,373
Grants paid out £73,338
Other costs £33,853

Full Annual Accounts for 2016/17 – to be published shortly

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