In view of the COVID-19 crisis and its wider impact on the economy and the charity sector, in late March 2020 we contacted many of the organisations which we have funded over the past two years to see how they had been impacted and how they were coping with the lock-down. We developed a four-pronged approach:
- For those charities which had sufficient immediate liquidity, we took no immediate action but remained in touch over the next few months.
- Make a meaningful monthly payment for up to 6 months. Initially this was to allow them to retain some key staff but as the furlough scheme was developed it became clear that all charities needed to replace income and our grant allowed them to develop lockdown activities with some confidence. We made payments in this category to Jamie’s Farm and the Winch.
- Converting existing grants and 2020/21 grant payments to core grants and accelerating grant payments to early in the financial year.
- Funding a specific project designed to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Included in this category was a one-off grant to New Horizons Youth Centre who have worked hard all year to provide dedicated support for homeless young people and who were instrumental in setting up a new hostel for young rough sleepers in Hounslow. We also supported LEAP to move their anger management work online.
Because we focussed on charities which we already support we were able to limit the amount of due diligence required and to take rapid decisions on emergency funding.
We have been very impressed by the ways in which all the charities we support have been flexible in how they deliver services and how they have been able to keep their teams mostly intact and working well and how they have kept their finances running well. We know that many funders have shown great flexibility in this time, which has clearly helped, but this is also a tribute to the management teams we support.
We know that there will also be challenges as things return to normal so we have decided to defer our grant round for 2021/22 to later in 2021 to allow us to assess what is needed.