A new report launched by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales sets out five key things that they have learned about how best to provide capacity building support, following five years of delivering and evaluating their own Funder Plus programme.

The report, 5 Years of Funder Plus, 5 Things We’ve Learned was launched at an event in London Docklands, bringing together other funders, infrastructure bodies and a range of providers of infrastructure support.

Drawing on independent evaluations from IVAR, Resonance and independent consultant Tony Chapman, the report outlines the importance of building trust with the charities being funded and supported. It emphasises that charities needed to feel empowered, giving them choice and control over the support packages they are offered, including the ability to say no. It also stresses the importance of providing support that is connected to the charity’s mission, implementing it at the right time, and using good diagnostic processes to help identify a charity’s underlying needs.

The report also highlights the importance of investing in leaders in the sector and embedding support for the long-term, based on their findings that any Funder Plus support should seek to build the capabilities of a charity to help themselves, not just plug short-term capacity issues.

The Foundation itself has supported over 800 charities with an investment of more than £4 million to develop over the last five years, providing support around critical areas like finance and fundraising, strategy and planning, communications, monitoring and evaluation, leadership and governance. In its 2018-2022 strategy, the Foundation sets out its plans to build on its early work around Funder Plus, committing to do more over the next five years.

In 5 Years of Funder Plus the Foundation sets out three wider challenges for funders and capacity builders to take forward: improving evaluation; joining up funding and support, including supporting existing infrastructure; and building a strong market of providers of support, driving up performance and marginalising poorer providers.

Paul Streets OBE, Chief Executive of the Foundation said:

“I know from visiting small and local charities that they really value and rely on grants – but this report has revealed that for some, the space, funding and permission to invest in capacity building is worth even more. Along with our fellow funders, we need to continue to step up to the challenge, recognising that charities’ needs are different in the current climate, and that it’s up to us to help them to thrive in increasingly difficult times.

At Lloyds Bank Foundation we’ll be committing to do much more capacity building work over the next five years. But we also hope that by sharing these insights we can help inform, shape and encourage good practice among others delivering or shaping capacity building work. By working together funders can provide increased and more effective support in the right way at the right time, ensuring charities - particularly small and local ones - can be stronger, more sustainable and effective at providing the services so many rely on today, tomorrow and into the future.”

Sonia Roberts, Chief Executive of Landau, a supported employment and education charity in the Midlands, and who will be speaking at the launch event said:

“No matter what day to day pressures we’re facing, charity leaders need to have room to understand their needs and prioritise their own development, the development of staff and the organisation’s mix of skills– and not be afraid to seek help to do so.

“Having the support of Lloyds Bank Foundation to be able to access consultants, support and local leadership forums has been invaluable. Just as important, however, was how that support was delivered. With Lloyds Bank Foundation it all flowed from my existing relationship with my grant manager. Charities need options but also to take ownership over the support they are offered and to be able to say no if it’s not right for them or isn’t working – I hope other funders offer more support, but also as this report suggests, do so in a way that works well for charities.”

Download the report