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22 January 2015 – minutes

Notes from Edge Fund Influencing Funders Meeting

22 January 2015 4pm

Yula, Rose, Susan, Patrick

The Young Foundation

Yula attended an event at The Young Foundation with a few other groups yesterday, and fed back on her experiences.

  • It’s hard to understand what the Young Foundation want from us. It was confusing to know whether they wanted to engage with us as individuals or as the Young Foundation.
  • Esmee Fairburn were there, represented by Gina Crane, who is a trial Edge member. It was useful to have them there to compare to, because the organisations got a clear sense of how different we are.
  • The groups that were there were really quite mainstream, and not really used to meeting with groups like Edge – challenging hierarchy, consensus decision making, being member-led etc.
  • The other participants were far less radical. We take it for granted that what we do is the right way, but we really are outside of the norms – something to remember!

Of the other groups that were there:

  • Citizens UK have a community organising model, and they do engage in campaigns like the Living Wage campaigns, and they work in areas of social deprivation, and they involve people with experiences of the challenges. However their links with churches and charities made them feel less radical. But, they were very interested in what we’re doing. It may well we worth having some kind of follow up with them, to find out whether we could learn anything from them as part of building our network.
  • Reasons Why Foundation was another group of potential interest – working with young men who have been in the criminal justice system. The representative seemed very interested in Edge, and after he spoken to Gina from Esmee Fairburn, he was even more enthused.

Conclusion: we need to understand what the Young Foundation want from us, and how they think they may be able to engage with our work and approach. We need to think about the areas of mutual interest. It was noted however that any events or meetings we have like this help to further our cause. We will continue the conversation, including inviting them to the Fundraising event next week.

Key Messages for Donors

We had a conversation about key points to make when engaging with funders. I read out some of the statements from the Beacon Awards survey, and we talked about what we thought could be key messages:

  • Be passionate about Edge
  • State our beliefs and make it personal ‘This is why I’m involved with Edge’
  • We talk about systemic change, and to us that means addressing inequality, and we don’t believe that philanthropy is the answer
  • However: we can’t attack philanthropy – it’ll get us nowhere, and everyone in Edge is a philanthropist!
  • Also: We can’t take a hostile approach to what foundations / charities do, as they may not know anything else– we have to show them an alternative, and explain why this is an essential approach.
  • What we do differently: we support groups that are led by people who are affected by these issues. Edge gives a voice to the views of people who experience disadvantage.
  • The flip side of this ‘positive’ approach is a challenge: How on earth are people who are rich, privileged, and give out money, supposed to know what it’s like for people who are discriminated against?
  • Furthermore, we’re uncomfortable about the aspect of Awards for philanthropy.
  • Get Behind the Grassroots – this is a key point. We can take risks, and reach the grassroots. Foundations and philanthropists have a problem about accessing and understanding the grassroots, but we’ve cracked it – so they will be interested to hear this.
  • The process of participatory decision-making makes us different. We can say both how and why.
  • We’re also reflective, and we constantly question processes and whether they reflect our values.

On the Beacon Awards, Patrick reflected on what type of event it may be, to support tactics. He went to a Philanthropy event in Scotland, where there was a panel of speakers, who were a bit self-congratulatory. Sometimes they speak from the heart and are interesting, but they are still not addressing issues of systemic change – they’re almost always propping up the system. Showing an alternative, talking about root causes, and challenging well-meaning but misguided intentions is key.

I’m meeting with Gloria and Eleanor tomorrow to talk tactics and approach for the Beacon Awards, so I’ll present this list to them and we can discuss along with all the other comments and survey input.

The Funding Network

Susan and Patrick updated the group on their activities in engaging with and influencing The Funding Network

  • Susan got an email yesterday for applications to go in for a London funding evening in March, but the deadline is 9 February.
  • The December event, where Susan and Patrick lobbied for a space for Edge, the message was that we could submit something.
  • They wanted to hear from organisations we work with that do campaign groups or organisations that are coming towards the charitable.
  • We’re a bit disappointed that they want us to slot into their system, but feel that this could open doors.
  • But the next deadline is quite close, and which groups could we propose?

We don’t currently have a system to refer organisations to other donors. However I’ve written an email to make see if everyone’s ok with us sharing basic details (organisation name, location, basic work), which will help us to refer groups on to interested donors.

  • Patrick and Susan felt uncomfortable about acting as a filter / choosing organisations who may be able to apply to the Funding Network.
  • Could we ask the top five from the last two rounds? But the problem is that many won’t have a chance- too radical!

Patrick and Susan are going to have a think about this and get back to us next week. The funding rounds come up every three months or so, so this isn’t our only chance. However we’ve warmed them up, and we don’t want to go quiet on them!

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