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26 October 2014 – minutes

Influencing Funders meeting
26 October 2014 – via GoToMeeting
1. Introductions

We had an introduction between members who were able to join: Jaqui, Susan, Patrick, Ian, Sophie, Rose
We also talked about the difference between this group and the Fundraising group:
 A. Influencing Funders Group: This group aims to support and influence other donors along the lines of Edge’s values.
 B. Fundraising Group: This aims to find ways of getting funding for Edge’s work (e.g. crowdsourcing, applications to donors).
We did talk about how these groups may often overlap, e.g. Esmee Fairburn was originally influencing but became about fundraising.

2. Edge’s edge

I updated everyone on what Oli and I chatted about last time in terms of the benefits of edge. We agreed that it’s good to focus on the positive, and champion our success, offering solutions.

That lead to a discussion about how we need to hone what it is we do before we try to influence / our ‘offer’ to donors. This is two-fold:
A. Process, or How we fund e.g. accountability, participation etc. and
B. Grassroots support, or What we fund e.g. supporting smaller grassroots groups, and systemic change issues.

3. What we fund: Things we can do to influence / support donors to fund grassroots/ systemic change work

> Could we convince them to put a pot of money aside to distribute in a different way? To do this, we could ask donors / research (via academics / networks like ACF etc.):

– What percentage of groups they work with are grassroots /client led
– How they assess that
– How they feel they contribute to systemic change.
We thought we could see what academic information is out there, and how we could make links, e.g. MA in social change (Sheffield, Birkbeck): We could ask them What is social change, and how does this come about? Any students may be able to take on this research as part of their studies?
Action: Patrick to ask his daughter about her degree and any contacts at Birkbeck we could speak to.

We thought about the donors themselves, and how often they say they want to support grassroots work but often they don’t.
– Their grant size could be a proxy for the size of orgs they work with?
– If they want to fund smaller groups, what are the barriers to this? (Funding ‘charitably’ legal structures, accountability, administration costs)
– Another challenge is that donors have to stick within their charitable objects.

Suggestions:
> Can we put together a process that facilitates things to ease administration for them?
> Could we make the case for ‘charitable’ work and take it to donors? (Network for Social Change does this, and it’s quite complicated – need to look at each project, and what the charity commission considers to be charitable.)
> Can we encourage donors to release funds to be non-charitable? (Not legally possible.)
> Could we ask donors to fund Edge, and through this they help us fund hard-to-reach communities?
> How’s about a ‘second stage’ thing – we could take organisations we fund to established donors and promote their work to them?
We could have charitable partners that could use our process as part of their assessment?
Action: We thought we could ask donors we have good relationships with, eg. Esmee Fairburn and LankellyChase, about whether this approach may be possible, or what the barriers may be.

It was noted that some of our grassroots groups may be of more interest to local funders, although many may be very conservative!
Action: All members of the Influencing Funders group to add any potential local funders (e.g Trust for London, Cripplegate foundation) to the spreadsheet.

4. How we fund: Targeting our advocacy and practical things we can encourage

We talked about the LankellyChase tender opportunity, and how we could use this as an opportunity to hone our offer and ask of donors.
Doing a proposal for them could be a calling card, and could be a way in which other donors may be able to see what we do. The process of putting it together is a good discipline to show what we can offer/ what our strengths are.
For example, we may not have the best placed to get together reaching out to committees, but we have interesting expertise on how to engage and involve people in designing systems.

We also have a real interest in what comes out of this – it’s useful to feed into our practice. Even if we don’t do the tender, we want to be involved.

Action: Rose to call Lankelly Chase, both to put the proposal together and also suggesting that the consultants engage with us.

Action: Sophie to think about how we may put this together.
5. Skills mapping

Who could do the type of work we want to propose to donors such as LankellyChase? Who within Edge is able to engage with these sorts of things and how?

Suggestions:
> Add questions to member survey?
> Send out email to see who may be able to engage with these things?
Action: Sophie to reach out to individuals and perhaps to members list to see who may have the time and skills to be paid to do this sort of work, initially for LankellyChase.

6. 2015 donor event
We agreed that it may be interesting to bring together donors in an Edge event. Woburn Place collective was suggested, and the challenges of reaching trustees (not just staff) was raised.
ACF conference would be a good space, but unfortunately we’re too late this year.
> Ask the ACF if they could do a seperate event for us? Sophie’s met with David Emmerson before.
Action: Rose to investigate the potential after ACF’s conference next year.

7. Funding Network

Susan suggested that we talk to the Funding Network. They have lively events, with individuals, who aren’t constrained by having to fund something ‘charitable’. For example, they have previously done a themed round on campaign groups – perhaps they could do something for Edge-type groups?
Action: Susan to flesh out an idea to chat to them about the potential for having a ‘guest slot’ where groups could propose their work.

Final few actions:

8. GoToMeeting seemed to work quite well, but feedback from everyone on it would be welcome / would help for future meetings.
9. Please take a look and add to the funders spreadsheet.
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