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May 18, 2015

*** THESE POSITIONS HAVE NOW BEEN FILLED ***

Edge Fund was formed in 2012 to raise money to support groups taking action for a just, equitable and sustainable world. We fund small, grassroots groups and individuals whose work 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. We are run by our members, who decide how we operate and what we fund. Many of our members come from the groups we fund and we aim to have a membership representative of the range groups and communities we support. More information can be found on the pages below:

Regional organiser x 3

As a member-run organisation we aim to ensure all our members are actively involved in our work and decisions. We’re looking for 3 organisers working 2 days per week in 3 different regions to support members to do this. Whilst the organisers have responsibility for outreach, administration, fundraising and communications, the idea is that they will support members to take on many of these tasks. Some of this will be through the member Working Groups. Whether a member has a particular skill (eg fundraising, organising events) or perhaps a perspective or experience that needs to be heard, it will be the role of the organisers to encourage and support them to take part. What we’re aiming for is an active membership, rather than 3 staff trying to do everything. The posts are for a one year contract.

Location: Edge Fund operates in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England, applications are accepted from all regions. We want to further expand our membership outside of London and South England and are therefore keen to receive applications from people based in north England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Applications from people based in London are still eligible.

Pay and employment status: We are happy for applicants to apply as a staff member (PAYE) or to carry out the role as an Associate of Edge Fund, taking on responsibility for their own tax and national insurance etc. The salary for a staff member would be £25,000 full-time equivalent (£10,000 actual pay) for outside London, and £27,000 full-time equivalent for those living in London (£10,800 actual pay). This includes 11.2 days holiday entitlement. As an Associate you could invoice up to a maximum of 728 hours (104 days at 7 hours per day) over 12 months, at an hourly rate of £13.74 outside London, or £14.84 if living in London. Which form of employment you prefer to work will not affect the outcome of your application.

Member support and outreach

  • Providing support to members in your region to enable them to participate in Edge activities (eg scoring applications, outreach, taking part in Working Groups). This could include organising local meet-ups so members can get together to discuss issues, share information etc. This would also include working with the Welcome Group to ensure new members are supported.
  • Working with members to research, contact and meet up with local groups, including previously funded groups, to recruit new members and applicants. This could be done by organising events and drop-ins.
  • Keeping members up to date through the Edge members list and a regular newsletter. This may need printing and posting to some members.
  • Working with the Facilitating Group to organise member meetings, including booking venues, ensuring an agenda is put together and we have members who can facilitate and make lunch, booking members’ travel, organising reimbursement of travel expenses, taking and typing up minutes and uploading them on the website.
  • Generally keeping an eye on what was agreed at meetings and ensuring action is taken to make it happen, via the staff, Facilitating Group or Working Groups.
  • Working closely with other staff, the Facilitating Group, (who are the accountable body for the staff) and the Working Groups within Edge; Communications, Fundraising, Welcome, Sharing, Influencing Funders Groups.
  • Along with all members, working to ensure Edge values are upheld throughout the organisation.

The following tasks would be divided up amongst the staff team:

Administration

  • Ensuring enquiries that come into the info@edgefund.org.uk email account and via phone are dealt with.
  • Dealing with donors, including giving bank details where requested, sending thank you notes to new donors.
  • Overseeing and administering the funding application process; including logging and categorising applications, working with members to check for eligibility and clarity, sending out scoring sheets, collating all the scores and comments and drawing up the short-list.
  • Compiling and sending feedback to applicant groups.
  • Overseeing and administering the membership application process; collating membership requests and sending out to the members list, collating comments and sharing that with Facilitating Group before making final decisions.

Communications and fundraising

  • Working with the Communications Group and staff to:
    • gather stories from the ground (eg articles, podcasts, interviews, film, photos) from funded groups and sharing them on our website.
    • manage the social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook), ensuring voices of members are represented.
    • manage the design and printing of leaflets and other communications materials.
    • work with the media, including sending press releases. This would mostly be independent and grassroots media channels.
    • send out the monthly Edge News email to our list of supporters with input from other staff and members from their regions.
    • maintain website, ensuring the domain name is renewed when needed etc.
  • Working with the Fundraising Group and staff to:
    • prepare funding applications
    • organise fundraising events
    • organise appeals and other aspects of fundraising.

Who we’re looking for

Edge Fund stands for social justice, as such, we believe in being led by those with lived experience of the injustices we seek to address. We have faced some challenges in making this happen to the extent we’d like and hope that employing the right staff will help us to make the changes we need to get us there. We particularly welcome applications from people of migrant backgrounds; people of African and Asian heritage; from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex people; those from working class and low income backgrounds, disabled people and women. Whilst we will accept applications from people with experience of working in the charity and non-profit sector, this is not the kind of experience we are particularly looking for. We value life experience, real connections to communities and shared values over professional qualifications and experience. Long-term unemployed people are welcome to apply.

As we have over 100 members with different backgrounds, perspectives and skills, we’re not expecting applicants to be able to cover everything in the job description. You will need to be well organised and enjoy working with a range of people and groups, including being happy to meet and pick up the phone to people you don’t know.

How to apply

Please complete the Personal Details and Application forms (below) and email this to info@edgefund.org.uk by the deadline of 15 June 2015 at 5pm. Please make sure you have read our values statement to help you answer question 3 of the application form.

We aim to short-list applications within 2 – 4 weeks of the deadline for the posts to begin mid-August, or earlier if possible. If you would like to apply over the phone or to talk to someone about your application please call 07767 126 915 or 0300 123 1965. If you would prefer to post your application please get in touch for an address. Whenever possible, we try to include people directly affected by our decisions in the actual decision-making process. For example, the process we use to decide which groups we fund was developed by potential applicants, and applicants of each funding round also take part in deciding who receives funding. Therefore, if you have any ideas about the way that we recruit staff for these positions we’d be very happy to hear them. There is space in the application form for you to add your thoughts if you want to.

Charities won’t ever create the change we need: it’s up to the grassroots

January 27, 2015

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you: it’s a well known phrase and few could argue that disagreeing with those that support you is ill-advised if you want that support to continue. It’s a power game all too familiar in the non-profit sector – those with their hands on the purse strings get to dictate what happens with their money; bite ‘em and you won’t see ‘em for dust.

A recent report from NCIA shows clearly the power government funding has over charities, creating a “climate of fear and muzzling of freedom of expression” as charities are told to keep quiet or lose contracts. Corporate funding has a similar affect. Some charities will tell you that their government and corporate donors do not influence what they do. They may also claim that being a registered charity does not restrict them from bringing about radical social change. This may be true in some cases, however it depends on the degree of change they’re seeking.

If you believe that engaging with the current system, talking to politicians and influencing policy is enough to create the world you’d like to live in, then go ahead, register as a charity, maybe even get some government funding. You won’t find too many obstacles in your way. But if you hope for something more – a world free of all poverty, inequality, injustice and environmental destruction, then a more fundamental change is needed, and that’s where the power holders start to feel a bit hot under the collar.

With massive increases in poverty, homelessness and inequality, it is understandable that people would choose to use what spare resources they have to provide for people’s basic needs. Of course we cannot leave people hungry on the street. But we also have to think ahead. We can go out and give a meal to someone who needs it, but the next day there they are again, dependent on someone else’s aid. In other words traditional charity can deal with the consequences of injustice, but it doesn’t get to the root of it.

Government funding is never free of control. The minute you present a real challenge to the agenda that continues to give more wealth and power to the rich and powerful, support will be withdrawn.  The same could be said of protesting. It’s OK to protest in this country as long as you won’t win. As soon as you’re in with any chance of winning, the state will come down on you hard.

The very fear of this is what keeps groups that might otherwise dare to stand up to power playing by the rules. The same applies to registered charities: the Charity Commission will attempt to withdraw your status if you get too political. You have to play nice. This is one of the factors that has led to the ‘professionalisation’ of activism, where salaries from big brand charities and other organisations dilute people’s politics and often distance them from the grassroots.

But what has years of playing by the rules achieved? Attempting to reform an inherently unjust system has had very little positive impact on people who were already struggling on low incomes and are now increasingly faced with benefits cuts and reliant on food banks. It’s also breathtakingly obvious that whoever gets into power after May won’t be offering much better.

In 2014 there were many grassroots campaign successes, proving that change from the bottom up works. From the Focus E15 Mothers and the New Era Estate residents, who successfully challenged our corrupt housing system by highlighting current threats to social housing. To the many who stood up and fought for a living wage in their workplaces, including the cinema workers of Brixton’s Ritzy Cinema.

2014 was a year to be remembered, but this year we can do better! Let’s make 2015 the year of grassroots action and people determining their own futures. If you want to have a real impact with your donation, support groups that are free enough, bold enough and optimistic enough to think big.

Even if just 0.1% of the £64 billion that goes to registered charities every year went to small independent groups challenging the status quo and demanding radical social change, we’d stand a much better chance of creating a just and equal world that works for us all.

Get behind the grassroots – join us at our fundraiser Saturday night!

Get Behind the Grassroots – fundraiser

January 19, 2015

Come to our fundraiser 31 January!

Join grassroots activists, poets and musicians to celebrate the power of the grassroots!

Including Jeremy Corbyn MP, Andy Greene (Disabled People Against Cuts), Shareefa Energy, Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), Pete the Temp, Nina Power (Defend the Right to Protest), I Sis, Anthony Anaxagorou, Spliff Richard, Focus E15 Mothers, Ritzy Living Wage campaign, Siana Bangura, Jembe Explosion and Crazy Divine.

Register using the link below:

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Get behind the grassroots for your New Year’s Resolution

December 29, 2014
(click CC to watch film with subtitles) .

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Every year over sixty-four billion pounds is given to registered charities in the UK. The charity sector has become big business, and incredibly there are now over 1,000 charities with an annual income of over £10 million a year. And as competition for money gets tougher, the larger groups continue to take a larger piece of the pie.

Smaller groups struggle to get heard over the big brand charity names, but there’s good reason why they’re worth backing.

The government lures groups to register as charities with tempting benefits such as claiming tax back on donations. But once you’ve become a registered charity you’re restricted by Charity Commission rules, which are being tightened all the time to prevent groups seeking real change. Most larger charities take government and corporate money making them puppets of the very systems that create inequality and injustice. Since often they are carrying out government contracts they literally become an arm of the state, limiting them to work that only provides short-term solutions.

Small grassroots groups, those run by volunteers in their own time, and often with their own money, are closer to what’s going on on the ground. Many of these groups spring up to challenge an injustice their community is facing and are determined to bring about long-term systemic change for themselves and others. They know what their community needs much better than some of the larger charities who claim to work on their behalf, and their independence means they are free to challenge power and tell it like it is.

If just 1% of the £64 billion that goes to registered charities every year went to small independent groups challenging the status quo and demanding radical social change, we’d stand a much better chance of creating a just and equal world that works for us all. In fact, just 0.1% of Save the Children’s £342.6 million annual budget would be revolutionary in the right hands.

New years resolution campaign stc2

For your New Year’s resolution, will you pledge to back radical grassroots groups?

  • Donate to a group near you, or if you’re not sure who to support, give a monthly donation to Edge Fund. If you give to a large charity, would you consider moving some of that donation to support grassroots groups working for a world where charity is no longer needed?
  • If you’re a charity or other organisation with a large income, meetings rooms, printers and other resources, could you share them with smaller groups?

The average annual income of groups that apply to Edge Fund is £2,500. Small amounts of money go a long way. Make your donation count, move it to the grassroots. Give £10 per month, or choose another amount.

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COME TO OUR FUNDRAISER! Saturday 31 January, London. Register here.

Round 4 grants: Migrant rights, police violence, anti-racism campaigns…

December 8, 2014

chickpea facebook cover On Saturday 6 December Edge Fund members and applicants got together to decide on the allocation of funds between the final 14 applicants of Round 4. Around 60 people took part in the process, which includes short presentations, opportunities to have discussions with the applicants and then members and applicants voting (with chickpeas) to determine how much each applicant receives. As usual, migrant groups did well in this round, and also there were a number of groups working on issues of racism in the criminal justice system, such as deaths at the hands of the police. Grants agreed at the meeting were:

  1. African Rainbow Family (£5,000)
  2. London Black Revolutionaries (£3,000) – [grant did not proceed – more info]
  3. Manchester Migrant Solidarity (£3,000)
  4. Sex Worker Open University (£3,000)
  5. United Families and Friends Campaign (£3,000)
  6. Unity Centre Glasgow (3,000)
  7. Abortion Rights Campaign (£1,500)
  8. Coal Action Network (£1,500)
  9. Foil Vedanta (£1,500)
  10. Framework Inclusion UK (disability rights) (£1,500)
  11. Generation Revolution (film about young Black activists) (£1,500)
  12. Justice for Mark Duggan (£1,500)
  13. London Campaign Against Police and State Violence (£1,500)
  14. Sisters of Frida (£1,500)

Prior to the meeting, smaller grants were also given to:

  1. Cardiff Homeless Action (£1,000)
  2. Travellers and Roma Against Prejudice (£1,000)
  3. JENGbA (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty by Association) (£1,000)
  4. Phillippa Willitts (sexual violence/ victim-blaming) (£1,000)
  5. Stop and Search Legal Project (£1,000)
  6. Homeless Tours United (£1,000)
  7. Re(al)-Productive Health (£800)
  8. Justice4Paps (£750)
  9. Shafted?! (£750)
  10. Anti-Deportation Ireland (£750)
  11. Asylum Seeker Housing Project (£750)
  12. REAL Network (£750)
  13. United Europe Roma (£750)
  14. Hampshire’s Romanys (£750)
  15. Frack Free Five Valleys (£750)
  16. Community Food Growers Network (£500)
  17. Feeding Manchester (£500)
  18. Food Not Bombs London (£500)
  19. Anti Racism Network Ireland (£500)
  20. ACORN Bristol (£500)

The average annual income of these groups is £2,555, with just two that received over £10,000 last year. Thanks to the crowdfund, we were able to give away more than our usual £40,000 this round. We also all made a collective decision to give the full £5,000 to African Rainbow Family because they received such overwhelming support from everyone at the meeting. Total funds distributed this round was £47,300. A more detailed account of the day to come! pale blue line

At the moment we don’t have enough funds to announce another funding round, if you can, please donate and help us spread the word so we can continue supporting grassroots action for radical social change. If you’d like to support any of the groups directly, please get in touch.

GivingTuesday: before you donate

December 2, 2014

Today is GivingTuesday; ‘a global day of giving’. The campaign has been launched in the UK by the Charities Aid Foundation. Before you decide who to support, spare a thought for those groups that often get forgotten on days like this.

We won’t fix the world’s problems just by giving more to traditional charity work; we must also change the structures and systems that create those problems. Yet, it’s likely the big corporate and government backed charities, who have their hands tied when it comes to pushing for real change, will benefit the most today.

Please support grassroots, community-led groups and those with the courage to demand real change. For some ideas on grassroots social change groups, take a look at our previously funded groups.

before you donate final

You can search the charity register on the Charity Commission website for information on charities’ income and sources of funding.

Source of stats:
Recent charity register statistics: Charity Commission
Charity register statistics for previous years: Charity Commission

Edge Fund reviews itself

November 6, 2014

edge fund review

While our members are at the final stages of drawing up a short-list from the 335 applications we received in this round, we wanted to update everyone on some important organisational decisions that have recently been made.

Earlier this year we held three review meetings in London, Manchester and Leicester in order to try to include people from all across the country and to break out of the London ghettoisation. The meetings were incredibly valuable and many diverse voices gave their opinions on some key decisions we needed to make as a group moving forward.

We are a democratic and non-hierachichal organisation so we wanted to hear from as many of our members as we could about how they felt Edge is doing. Even though it was tempting to charge on forward with the next funding round we felt as a group that it was important to allow enough time for reflection so that we can continue to grow and assist amazing grassroots action groups across Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

Below is a summary of some of the more crucial decisions that were made and the reason for them.

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Membership recruitment

As an organisation that is member-run, we need to be careful about who joins Edge Fund. As much as we want to be inclusive, there is a danger our values and aims could change over time if we don’t apply some criteria to who can join, especially as many of our views are not mainstream. We wanted to keep the membership application questions very simple, so these were only changed slightly, but we added a statement to the Become a Member page of the website pointing out that we support groups that ‘have radical views such as being against prisons, national borders, the police or military. Some may be openly anarchist or anti­-capitalist’. The aim of this statement was to make our values clearer, to attract people with similar aims.

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Getting to know members

With 125 members it can be hard to keep track of everyone, but we felt it was important to ask members to complete a survey asking them about their background and identity, what requirements they have for taking part and what they would like to do as an Edge Fund member. This would help us ensure members get what they want out of being a member, and importantly, allow us to be more aware of gaps in representation in the membership so this can be addressed. More about our members.

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Paying members

In an ideal world, Edge would not need to reimburse anyone for assisting Edge on big projects, because there would be no barriers to access by everyone working for free. In a slightly less ideal world, Edge would be able to pay everyone for the work they did for Edge, because we’d be swimming in money. Sadly, we live in neither of those worlds.

Therefore it was agreed that Edge will decide on a case-by-case basis to pay for work that would take substantially more time than is normally expected of members. (Members are not paid for assessing applications). Payment will only be on specific time-limited projects – e.g. organising a big Edge meeting – and will be paid at a fair wage (at the time of writing, £11/hour was paid to previous paid Edge workers).

The main reason for deciding to pay members was to decentralise the work by sharing it out amongst the membership, but with a particular emphasis on diversifying the voice of Edge by prioritising those who are often under-represented and may face particular barriers to taking part.

Scrutiny will rest in the hands of the Facilitating Group who will co-ordinate the work and ensure that the right person/people carry out the work that is needed to be done.

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Criteria on faith-based groups

We amended our funding criteria to include the following:

Individuals and groups who have a religious purpose are welcome to apply but we don’t provide financial support for any activity, initiative or project where the primary aim is to promote religion.

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Forum for Radical Sharing

We agreed to pilot a new initiative that we’re calling “Forum for Radical Sharing”. These will be set up over the next year for groups (including those we’ve funded) to share what they’ve learned, explore collaborations, share skills etc. The first Forum for Radical Sharing is set for Manchester in November. More info.

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New Reporting Requirements

Reporting back won’t be mandatory, but we will request that grantees provide a report and suggest the following formats (questions will also be offered as a guide):

5 -10 minute video
Half a page to a page written report
5 -10 minute presentation at the Forum for Radical Sharing
5 – 10 minute audio podcast (which could involve a member asking the questions over the phone or during a visit/ meeting and recording it)

More info about reporting.

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Changes to funding application questions

It was felt by some members that our previous application questions weren’t bringing out applicant’s values and it was hard to get an understanding of how they see the world and how they aim to tackle the root causes of injustice and inequality. To address this we have reworked the application questions slightly. Question 4 now reads as:

What in your view is the root cause (or causes) of the issues you’re working on and how do you address it?

The reason we ask this is because Edge Fund does not want to fund groups that are only addressing the symptoms of a problem/issue. For example, a disability organisation that only provides support to disabled people or a homeless organisation that only provides support to homeless people.

Edge Fund seeks to fund those groups who are addressing the root causes of issues. For example, a disability organisation taking direct action against government cuts affecting disabled people or a housing organisation that is campaigning for a more socially just housing system.

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Changes to process of assessing applications

This was a small change in policy. Previously the 15 applications with the highest average score from members were asked to send in additional information about their projects so that members had more information to help decide who gets how much money. However, at the final funding day each of the 15 groups receive a minimum of £1,500, therefore we decided that if the group had requested £1,500 or under they would not need to submit additional information.

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Some other things we talked about were; how we can work with other funders to support and encourage democratic processes and grassroots funding, how much we should have in the bank before announcing a funding round, fundraising and communications, how we can work effectively across regions, supporting applicants, building members skills (facilitation, how change happens, power and privilege), reviewing the co-ordinator role and supporting new members.

If you’re reading this paragraph that means you have made it to the end of this blog post. Thank you! This blog was written just to provide a basic update on the most key aspects that came out of the 3 review sessions. If you would like to find out more then the full minutes of each of the 3 meetings can be found on our website here: https://edgefund.org.uk/get-involved/meetings/