An update on our Covid-19 support

We’ve made some changes to our grant programme over the last couple of months and as Director of Grants for Lloyds Bank Foundation, I thought some explanation of the changes and thoughts about how we move forward would be useful for those of you who may have been impacted or who may apply to us.

Harriet Stranks, Director of Grants at Lloyds Bank Foundation

Harriet Stranks, Director of Grants for Lloyds Bank Foundation

The impact of COVID19 has been catastrophic for everybody, but particularly for those organisations who are doing their utmost to support the most vulnerable in our society. We have seen some incredible responses and an outpouring of ingenuity and adaptability which genuinely makes me proud to be able to support the charities we fund and the sector more widely.

 

Since this crisis emerged, we have been having regular conversations with charities to understand their current needs, we know that demand for crisis support has increased and income has been hit hard, especially projected income from fundraising and trading. Charity leaders are terribly worried about what the future holds and how they will manage even greater spikes in demand once lockdown has eased.

 

When considering how best we could respond, we acknowledged that we needed a proportionate response which created stability in the short term for a greater number of charities. We know that charities want larger grants for longer and our 2018-22 strategy reflected this. However, that meant that we could fund fewer charities overall so we have revisited this principle in the short term, with the aim of returning to it as soon as we can.

We felt that we had a responsibility to three cohorts of charities; those who were in the middle of applying to us, those we already funded and new applicants who are meeting the needs of critically vulnerable people in their communities.  

 

For the 70 applicants who had already made significant progress with their application, we wanted to recognise the time and resources they had committed and progress their applications to decision. However, we also knew that to be able to support more charities to get through this challenging time we could only commit to funding for 12 months.

 

These charities have also been able to access organisational development support as they made their applications. This has helped many with financial resilience, business and contingency planning, IT equipment etc., as we recognise that charities need help to plan and as a funder we need to be as responsive and flexible as we can.

 

We are also supporting our current grantees with organisational development support, and have varied reporting requirements, made funds unrestricted, and removed the expectation of meeting agreed outcomes. This will help charities focus on meeting emergency needs and adapting services and we want to support them to do that.

 

We have set aside £2m for current grantees to fund unanticipated costs incurred as a result COVID19 of up to £15,000. There will be a very simple application for this, just three questions and we will endeavour to process these as fast as we can to get the funds out to charities.

 

The reduction of longer term grants this year means we will be able to launch a new grants programme in the summer which will enable us to fund a greater number of charities than we previously would have done, all of which will be able to access organisational development support following an in depth conversation with one of our Regional Managers about what would be most helpful to them.

 

We are often told by the charities that we partner with, that the organisational development support has been more valued and instrumental than the grant itself. We think that this is where our strength lies, and we have a team of highly capable Regional Managers who can support organisations to recognise their priorities and pair them up with external support. This might take the form of learning cohorts, a bank mentor, a local consultant, or a specialist across a diverse subject base like fundraising, marketing, financial resilience etc. Our available support is shown in more detail here.

 

This developmental support has also been made available to charities we don’t fund. Through our work in helping communities redesign local services to benefit local people we’ve brought together charities, local authorities and local businesses in six communities to discuss how communities can recover from COVID-19. To help them through this journey we’ve provided the same capacity building support that we would our grantees.

 

We know that we’re just one small piece to a larger puzzle and for all small and local charities, not just our grantees, to survive this crisis a lot more needs to happen. Throughout this period, we’ve been working with NCVO, ACEVO, NAVCA, CFG and others to call on the government to support charities. This involved supporting both the #EveryDayCounts and #NeverMoreNeeded campaigns as well as submitting evidence to the DCMS Select Committee to build on their report on the impact of coronavirus on charities. Alongside our grants to charities we’ve also awarded £25,000 grants NAVCA and Locality so they can continue to help charities through this period.

 

In the interim we want to learn from charities about how best to support them so that we can develop a responsive grant making programme in 2021 so that the charities we support can continue to help people facing disadvantage to transform their lives.