A fast response to COVID: challenging how we fund

Our latest Insights Report shares feedback on our emergency response to the COVID pandemic, one year on. We also reflect on how it's challenging how we fund and lessons for the future.

After reading the 396 responses to our survey about our Fast Response Grants, we were truly heartened by the positive feedback – particularly in what it enabled organisations to do at an incredibly stressful time for everyone. And whilst it’s not a surprise that offering additional funding would be welcome, we were blown away by the response to how we made the grants. It was clear to us that giving with trust and flexibility was worth more than just the money itself.

For us, it further highlights the challenges we face as funders in the balance between being accountable and learning about the impact of our funding; and ensuring that our processes do not create unnecessary barriers or demands.

Our Fast Response Grants were focused on supporting organisations we already fund, which meant we were able to give with trust, flexibility, and at speed. We have since used lessons from this in our ongoing response to the pandemic, recognising the disproportionate impact of COVID on communities experiencing racial inequity and performing arts organisations.

To reach organisations outside of our portfolio, we also contributed to targeted emergency Pooled Funds such as Comic Relief’s Global Majority Fund and Jerwood Arts’ Live Work Fund.

You can find more information about our funding in our portfolio.

Lessons for the future – trust, flexibility and speed

We want to build on the work we’re doing to be a more open and trusting grant-maker by looking at what lessons from our emergency giving we can take into our regular funding. To do this well, we need to take into consideration our own capacity and ensure that we are as transparent and upfront about our processes as possible. But the insights in this report will also help us to think differently about how we do things.

We are so grateful to everyone who shared their feedback with us. We will continue to reflect on it as we explore ways that we can improve our grant-making. And by sharing the report, we hope that as well as providing food for thought, it gives you an insight into the incredible ways organisations have responded to the pandemic.

Let us know what you think

We'd love to know what you think about the themes in the report. Get in touch by emailing us at: communications@esmeefairbairn.org.uk.

Learn more

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