Written by Rosemary Macdonald, CEO, UKCF.
As the nation paused to say ‘Thank You’ at the weekend to the people and organisations who have helped us to get through the pandemic, it’s a good time to think about how communities are recovering from this challenging time and looking ahead to the future. Earlier this year, we surveyed our members, the 47 community foundations that cover every part of the UK, to find out how the effects of the pandemic were playing out in their area.
Their responses clearly showed that as things begin to return to ‘normal’, levels of need are rising. Our members have seen the demands for funding change over time: at the start of the pandemic, grants for organisations working to support people with ‘Food and Essentials’ accounted for over half of all the emergency funding distributed through the NET Coronavirus Appeal. By October, it was around a quarter of grant-making. As infrastructure was put in place to deal with food distribution, the longer-term effects of lockdown, traumatic experience of COVID-19 and compounding factors meant that grants allocated to organisations providing Mental Health Services nearly doubled.
As the pandemic continues to cause increased hardship, it is unsurprising that all of the community foundations we surveyed are experiencing increasing levels of need for the services that local Voluntary and Community Sector organisations provide in their respective localities. The top five areas identified are food and essentials, mental health services, technology and IT, social isolation and domestic violence support services.
With the flow of emergency funding to the sector now slowing down, we must ensure that, as funders, we are doing the best we can to support communities as they recover from the long-term effects of the pandemic. This week, we have published a report highlighting some of the ways funders can do that, informed by our members’ recent experiences. Our recommendations include: supporting what has been proven to work, increasing core funding, collaborating with other VCSOs, and being as flexible as possible with grant recipients.
We all know that the effects of the pandemic are going to be with us for years to come. As funders, this puts the ball firmly in our court. Now more than ever, we must make sure that our grant-making is in tune with the needs of the local charities and community groups that have been a vital lifeline to people during the pandemic and help them on the road to recovery.
For more information about us, please visit: https://www.ukcommunityfoundations.org/.