Pre-application Q&A, 13 May 2024


Webinar recording and additional Q&A


  • Alison Holdom, Funding Manager Lead - Creative, Confident Communities
  • Catherine Hillis, Director of A Fairer Future
  • Liam McAleese, Director of Our Natural World
  • Luna Dizon, Communications Manager

Welcome and housekeeping

Liam McAleese

Good afternoon, everybody. And welcome to Esmée Fairbairn Foundation's pre-application Q&A session. We're really pleased so many of you could join us today. Thanks so much for your time. And I hope this is useful for you. And if it's not, please tell us.

I'm Liam McAleese. I'm the Director of the Natural World impact area at Esmée. I'm here with my colleagues, Alison and Catherine, who will share more detail behind what we're looking for and how we make decisions. My colleague Luna will facilitate the questions session, and my colleagues Philippa, Annabel and Simon are also on hand in the background to help answer your questions. For accessibility, we have Nana and Altan, who will be providing BSL interpretation and interpreting what is spoken live. We've asked speakers to describe themselves and where they are. So I'm a tall white man in the foothills of middle age and with the thinning hair to show for it with brown eyes. I'm sitting today in the beautiful county of Cumbria. I will now ask Catherine and Alison to introduce themselves.

Alison Holdom

Hi, I'm Alison, I'm an older white woman. And I've got shoulder length hair and glasses and I'm sitting at my home in front of a lot of very messy bookshelves. I'll hand over to Catherine.

Catherine Hillis

Hi, everyone. I'm Catherine Hillis, I'm Director of A Fairer Future. I'm a middle aged white woman with very curly hair and a light patterned shirt on and sitting in our offices in Kings Cross.

Liam McAleese

Thank you, Alison, and Catherine. A few practicalities and housekeeping before we start. Live captioning is available for this session. There is a link in the chat. If you'd like to see the captions in a separate window. You can also click the closed caption button to the bottom of this window to see them within zoom. You can post at any point using the Q&A facility which you can find at the bottom of your screens. I'd encourage you to vote for questions submitted by other participants. If you'd really like to see that one asked. You can do this by clicking on the thumbs up icon next to the question.

And as mentioned, we've also got Luna, Philippa Annabel, and Simon typing responses to the questions in the Q&A. We will try and answer as many as possible. And we'll prioritise the questions that are up voted. If there are questions that we miss, we will try to answer them afterwards. We will also be using your questions to update our Frequently Asked Questions section on our website. And you may find the answer to your question is already there. We are expecting a lot of questions. So please don't worry if we miss or you miss anything. We're recording the webinar so we can share the transcript with any additional questions covered on our website in due course.

So I will take the first slide, which is the welcome and plan. We started these pre-application Question and Answers sessions because applicants have told us that being able to ask questions before submission of expression of interest will give helpful feedback. We've considered different ways of offering this and hopefully these webinars will give you a good chance to ask questions. And for us to answer them. We do really value honest feedback on how these are working for you. We've made changes based on what we've heard from previous webinars. We'll be gathering feedback from this session too. So please do tell us what you've thought.

We want to use most of the time to answer your questions. So we'll try and limit our part and leave time for your questions. So the plan is a quick introduction to Esmée. What we don't fund and what we're looking for, what we consider when making decisions, the application process, and then we'll go on to the Q&A. We are aware that we need to strike a tricky balance today. We want to be more transparent, but we also need to be really honest with you. We're not holding this webinar to encourage more applications. We see that need is rising in the sectors we support and we work with over the last year, and we have been receiving more funding applications. We're still making a similar level of grants. And we're really need to do more to save people spending their precious time applying to us, when it is unlikely that we would fund their work. We hope this webinar will help you better understand whether you should invest time applying to us or whether your time might be spent elsewhere.

We also want to answer as many questions as possible. But we know that the main question for you is will Esmée fund my work? I'm sorry, but the answer for many of you will be no, we won't be able to give you one-to-one advice or feedback about your own organisation. It's just not possible with the number of applicants we have. But we do hope to give you a clearer picture, both today and on our website, of what we're looking for, how we make decisions and how we use our application process to do that.

About Esmée - slides 3, 4 and 5

Liam McAleese

I'll just talk a bit about Esmée as a funder next. Our strategy which will now run until the end of 2027, focuses on three interacting and intersecting aims, you'll see that on the on the slide around improving our natural world, securing a fairer future and strengthening the bonds of communities in the UK. All of the details of our strategic priorities are outlined on our website, as well as the full funding guidance. Under each priority, we've included some detail on the outcomes that we are seeking. And also previous examples of work we funded under those priorities. To give you a clear indication of what we're seeking. I'm now going to hand over to my colleague, Catherine to talk about our grants in numbers.

Catherine Hillis

Brilliant, thanks Liam. So just a few numbers to give you an idea of the size and shape of our grant making. We make around £40m to £50m worth of grants each year. We choose to focus our funding mainly on a relatively small number of long-term, core cost grants. On the slide, you'll see that 70% of the grants that were awarded in 2023, were for core or unrestricted costs, and most grants that we make are for between three and five years. Although we have no minimum or maximum that people can apply for.

Last year, we made 227 grants and 82 of those were with organisations that we hadn't funded before. And overall, 64% of the grants that we made last year with organisations that we had funded at some point in the past. So in terms of what we don't fund, we do have a full list of exclusions on our website. So, Luna, do you mind moving the slide on please.

What we don't fund and what we're looking for - slides 6, 7 and 8

Catherine Hillis

In terms of the exclusions, I won't read all of these out. And don't worry, if you can't see them on the screen, they are on our website in the funding guidance. And when we share details after after this event, you'll be able to see those there as well. But just to highlight a couple of things from these exclusions, as Liam said before, we're really keen not to waste organisations' time. We do have a criteria in there that organisations with an annual turnover of less than £100,000 are not eligible. Neither organisations who don't have three trustees, or three directors, the majority of who should be non-executive. And the reason why we have that in there is because we know that those we're much less likely to fund those organisations and we're very, very conscious of people's time. But I won't go through these exclusions in detail, do have a look on the website. And again, if you have any questions after you've read those, or indeed now, either pop them in the Q&A now or if you want to follow up afterwards, do send us an email.

So what we are looking for on this slide, and it will explain a little bit what organisations must show when they apply to us. So we want organisations to show that they're leading the way themselves, either themselves as the organisation or as part of a collaborative movement or partnership.

We want to see organisations that are driving change for the future either by doing something new, or by using tried and tested models, but really trying to push an issue forward.

We want an organisation to show that they are aiming to make a lasting difference, reaching beyond those directly engaged in the funded work to influence policy, practice, and behaviour.

Even though we do receive applications that are meeting those three criteria, we still can't support them all. But things that we fund will be meeting these three criteria.

We're also interested in unusual collaborations and ambitious partnerships. That could be nationally or operating regionally, but involving, or engaging a range of charity, public sector or corporate stakeholders.

We want to support work that makes connections across our aims. So those are the three strategic aims that Liam took us through at the start. We're really interested in work that cuts across those.

We're interested in organisations where communities or people most affected are leading the change either within the organisation in its structure or in that particular piece of work.

We're interested in work which uses a preventative approach, and work that has a practical plan to achieve and sustain change over the long term.

Again, sadly, we can't support everything that meets these criteria. But this is what we're looking for when we're doing those initial assessments.

How we make decisions, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion - slides 9 and 10

Alison Holdom

Thanks Catherine. I'm going to just talk now about what we consider when we are making decisions. We have to make judgments and by submitting an expression of interest to Esmée, you're putting your work on our radar, and letting us know that you think it fits our strategy. When we look at EOIs (expression of interests), we're thinking about these things from our point of view, and in the context of our strategy.

We look at your track record: the success, but what was learned when things didn't go to plan as well. We're looking at your connections: how this could link to and complement other work that we support and increase the combined impact? And the broader context: what are the opportunities and barriers, who are your allies, your collaborators, and what influence and leverage will your work have. And then finally, we look at the difference that our support would make: what value could our funding and the extra support that we offer, add to this work.

Then if I could just have talk briefly on the next slide, about diversity, equity and inclusion. Now we also consider diversity, equity, inclusion or DEI for short, as part of our assessment and as part of our decision making process. Applicants will be asked questions at both EOI and proposal status. And this is so that we can understand, track, improve and share our progress on diversity, equity and inclusion.

When you submit an expression of interest, you're asked to complete a DEI monitoring form about the organisation. And to do this, we use something called the DEI Data Standard. This was created by an independent working group of UK funders as a framework to capture DEI data because they believe that there'll be no effective action to identify and target funding to address structural inequalities unless we know the data.

Then at proposal status, we ask applicants to tell us more about their approach to DEI within their organisation and through their work.

Then how do we use this information? Well, on the one hand, it helps us to understand who our funding is reaching, as well as to identify and address any structural inequity in our funding. It's part of our assessment process, generally, as we've said, but we're also interested in how people and communities most impacted by the issues shape the work.

And for some areas of our strategy. We are prioritising applications from organisations led by people with lived experience of the issues and if you look at our funding priorities on the website, you can see where that happens.

However, we know that our eligibility criteria are an unfair barrier for organisations that are led by communities experiencing racial inequity, or that are disability-led. So we're trying to explore how best to tackle this at the moment. And one of the things we're looking at is something called New Connections funding. Again, there's more detail on this on our website. And it's one of the things that we're trying to look at the moment to try and overcome that barrier.

Based on the DEI data we gather about who our funding is reaching, the figures that we have for last year suggests that nearly half of the grants we made went to organisations led by People who face structural inequity as a result of their identity or lived experience, and you can find out more about the DEI data in a recent story that Luna is about to share. She shared it on our website, she's about to share it in the chat as well. And also on our website, you can learn more about how we use your information by clicking the link in the slides that you were sent as part of this webinar. So I'm going to hand back to Luna now.

How to apply - slide 11 (video)

Luna Dizon

Hi, everyone, so we're just going to share a short video on the six steps on how to apply to Esmée.


There are six steps to apply. One, take a quiz to check you meet the minimum eligibility criteria. You'll be asked quick questions on the funding you're seeking and your organisation. The quiz takes a few minutes.

Two, read our funding guidance. It has three sections. A, more detail on how to apply. B, what we do and don't support. And C, our strategy and funding priorities. Sections A and B take 30 minutes to read. For C, our strategy, read the parts relevant to your work. You'll find information on the outcomes we are focusing our support on.

Three. If you think Esmée is a good fit for your work, submit an expression of interest. Use this to tell us briefly what work you would like us to support, about the change your focused on achieving, and how your organisation is well placed to deliver it. You'll have 300 words. We'll also look at your website to learn more about your organisation and work. You'll hear from us within four weeks to let you know whether we'll take your application further.

Four, if your work is a potential match, we'll invite you for a conversation to learn more. The conversation will cover fit to our strategy, your approach and your track record.

Five, if your plans are a strong fit, we invite you to submit a proposal. You'll have three months to submit a proposal. If you already have a document that describes your work, and shows how your work aligns with our strategy, you can use this.

Six, after receiving your proposal, we'll invite you for a follow up conversation. We'll then do a detailed assessment of your application. We aim to give you a decision within three months of receiving your proposal.

Assessing applications and expression of interest tips - slides 12 to 16

Catherine Hillis

Great thanks for that Luna. I'm just gonna talk you through a little bit what happens behind the scenes when we receive your initial expression of interest. So when that arrives, members of the Esmée team will use that expression of interest as a screening tool. We'll look to see whether it meets the minimum criteria, whether it's a good fit for our funding priorities. And then those three points that I mentioned on the slide earlier, is the work leading the way is it driving change for the future? And does it aim to make a lasting difference.

We'll also have a look on your website. And we'll look at all the other publicly available information: that might be the Charity Commission website or Companies House depending on how your organisation is constituted. And when we do think we see something that looks like a really good match, we'll invite an organisation for phone call, which is a chance for us to explore the application and your plans further.

Not everybody that we invite for a phone call, we are able to invite to make a full proposal, but it's an opportunity for us to hear a little bit more.

Then there are discussions that happen internally at Esmée where we discuss each individual expression of interest and get input from a range of colleagues across our team and Esmée staff and often working with our Involving Young People Collective as well.

Great. So we want to just now talk through a little bit about the number of applications that we receive just to really set the context and be upfront about the volume of applications that we've get.

In 2023, and we work on calendar years, we received 1030 eligible expression of interests through our website. And for those expressions of interest that came in through the website with no previous contact with Esmée, 7% were invited to submit a full proposal. Of those organisations 93% did receive a grant. Now that share last year was higher than usual, and will be lower this year, I think in 2024. But last year, we really focused on it, only inviting those applications that were really a strong fit to our strategy.

For expressions of interest that we invite, so that's either because an organisation has an existing grant with Esmée, or perhaps a colleague at Esmée has met somebody at a conference event. If we invite it, this success rate is much higher, although we don't include applications which are withdrawn by the organisation in this.

And we are mindful of bias here. So we do ask the same questions and use the same processes and frameworks for expressions of interest we invite and those that we don't. But obviously, our existing knowledge in learning will factor into our decisions where we do know an organisation's work. Now, I'm going to hand over to Liam.

Liam McAleese

Thanks, Catherine. So we've added a new slide, based on the questions at previous webinars as to how do you get on our radar. So there are two main ways that an organisation gets on our radar. The first is that we are proactive as a team, we attend many different community and sector events in all different parts of the United Kingdom. We carry out research into our areas of work. And we also follow up on recommendations from the people we fund or already work with within our priority areas. The second area is through an expression of interest on our website. And in 2023 last year, 36% of grants we made were given to 82 organisations that we hadn't previously funded before. And half of these came in through our website. So if you do want to get on our radar, the best way still is to put in an expression of interest via our website. I'll hand over to Alison.

Alison Holdom

Thanks, Liam. So this is an example of what makes a good expression of interest. Just to follow on from the information that Liam and Catherine have given. I won't go into the detail of it. But this is from an applicant who is from Participate Projects in Bradford who kindly let us share it.

Their application was for work through the Creative, Confident Communities aim. And it aligned well with those funding priorities for community driven enterprise and communities working together for change. It was an uninvited EOI that came through our website from someone that we hadn't funded before. So it's a really good example of how to get on our radar.

And then if we could go to the next slide, here's some tips about really what makes a good EOI.

Be clear about what you're asking for funding for, it doesn't have to be very detailed, it just has to be a line or two. But just to be very clear.

And also, remember that we do as Catherine said, look at your website, look at Companies House, at the Charity Commission. So we don't need to kind of know the background in that sense. But we do need to understand a little bit more about the work and the relation to our strategy.

If you look back at these slides and look at the example that we've just shown you, you can see that they give a very strong sense of what they're aiming for. And they show an understanding of what the change will feel like and how they'll get there, including why the work is needed in that specific place, and how it builds on previous work. So we have a really strong indication from that expression of interest about their experience, the issue, how they're going to get there, and what the change would look like. But also how all of that fits into our strategy. It's a good balance of who they are as an organisation, what they're trying to do, and the people and partnerships involved in terms of this application, because it's for Creative, Confident Communities, is absolutely clear that the local community is at the heart of change. And that's really important through that aim.

It's also helpful to get a very brief description and I know we don't give you a huge amount of space on the expression of interest. So we don't give you the chance to give very much detail but it's very useful to have just brief descriptions of the activities, but also talk about the broader systems and the long term change that you're seeking. So I think I'm passing back to Luna now. And that's the end of the slides that we're going to talk to. And I think we're going to start the question and answer session.


Luna Dizon

Hi, everyone, thanks for already submitting lots of good questions in the Q&A facility. The first question I'm going to ask is from Clara.

1. What portion of your grants are awarded to existing grantees, due to the high competition of funds currently.

And I don't know who wants to take that on the panel, perhaps Liam, or Catherine.

Liam McAleese

I don't have the precise figure in mind. I'm hoping that colleagues on the Q&A can add to it because we do publish information on that. But we do have a significant number of our grants go to existing grantees. That's because we seek to have longer term relationships with organisations that last over multiple years. But as you've seen from our numbers, we still challenge ourselves to be an open funder, and to ensure that every year there are a good proportion of organisations that are new to Esmée that we are funding as well. But hopefully someone can give you a precise number on the number of existing grantees funded.

Catherine Hillis

It was 64% last year, Liam, the grants made where we'd had a previous relationship at some point with that organisation. So it might not have been that was an extension grant immediately following on but an organisation at some point Esmée had funded previously.

Luna Dizon

Thank you both. So we've got we've had a couple of questions asking about the £100k turnover eligibility criteria. So there's one here for an Anna.

2. If an organisation doesn't meet the £100k turnover, how can they make the connections that we referred to as the New Connections programme.

Liam McAleese

Do you want me to take that Luna. So we do say £100k is a threshold at the moment. As I think we've said on the chat, we, we have tried to challenge our processes and thresholds through New Connections to test different ways of working, particularly as we realise that those criteria exclude organisations all of whom are doing brilliant work. We're just working through the current phase of New Connections. And we we've only really just got under way with that. And we will be publishing more information on our website, very shortly on that. The programme is is currently closed. We will provide updates throughout the year on how New Connections is going and any future plans based on how the New Connections programme is going. So there's no immediate changes right now proposed. But do keep an eye on things on our website. And we will let people know if and when things change.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Liam. There's also a link in one of the last slides to other resources, funding lists that might be helpful, too. They're generally directories to other funding sources. Hopefully, that's helpful.

So I'm going to ask another question, which I know Catherine's already highlighted as one she'd like to answer.

3. So this question is from Ian. They are a community outreach group in Lower North Belfast, which has a high percentage of under performing education attainment, is the fund something that we could use to explore this?

Catherine Hillis

Brilliant. Thanks, Luna. And thanks for the question. I mean, I think it's like Liam said at the start, you know, we know that a lot of questions will be around will you fund my particular project? So I'm going to talk perhaps more broadly about the question that Ian has raised. Esmée has had quite a long tradition of funding education projects, and when I first joined Esmée nine years ago now, we just moved from having an education and learning priority to something that focused on children and young people more broadly. So outside of schools and looking quite holistically about young people's lives. In terms of our current priorities, we don't have anything around educational attainment, under our children and young people's rights priority in A Fairer Future, we do have something which is around tackling issues for children who are at risk of school exclusion, and work that is trying to change that and to make more inclusive education approaches for children at risk of being excluded from school. So do have a look at our funding guidance for that particular priority. I would raise one of the points that we made earlier as well about the work being not just for the beneficiaries of the programme, as important as we know that it is, but our desire to try and influence policy and practice more broadly. So you'll see, hopefully, when you look at the guidance that one of the bullet points is that the impact of the work needs to go beyond the specific programme and look at influencing change more broadly. And so do have a look at that guidance. It may well be that we're not the right funder for you.

Part of our work in moving away from funding stuff that was more explicitly about education was because the number of other funders in that space. And obviously, what the question that we're always asking ourselves at Esmée is where can we have best impact within the whole kind of ecosystem of different funders. So that was part of our reason in looking outside of formal education as well. But I hope that answers your question. And do come back on the Q&A if there's anything that wasn't clear about that.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Catherine. I'm just gonna ask another like school related question. This one's for Al.

4. Can we support arts work in schools?

Alison Holdom

Yes, and no, is the answer. We don't find anything that's part of the curriculum. So we won't fund any arts work that involves arts organisations going into schools to deliver part of the curriculum. However, particularly through Creative, Confident Communities, we know that schools are very often a route to the community. Sometimes they're the only civic space in an area. And so we know that a lot of work to build relationships with families and communities starts in schools and starts with arts work. And so if that is part of a broader aim to engage with the community, then we can look at it. But we're unlikely to fund work or projects that are just about working with arts in schools without a kind of wider community purpose.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Al. And I'm going to ask Ellen's question.

5. It says on the guidance about preference for regional or national projects, and they are in North Yorkshire, so would we like the project to cover the whole of Yorkshire. Also, is it more likely that we would fund national projects rather than regional?

Liam, you said that you wanted to answer this question?

Liam McAleese

I'll give it a go. Thanks for your question. And the short answer is your project doesn't necessarily have to cover the whole of Yorkshire. What we're looking for is the potential for regional or national impact. Now, that is not us being prescriptive about the geographical area that a project needs to cover. It could be that a very local, a hyperlocal project could have regional impact and/or be scalable or replicable, both at a regional or national level. So we look at the potential for impact of an idea or organisation. So we're not looking to be prescriptive around well, it needs to cover a specific definition of a region.

And I think, the second part of your question, is it more likely that you fund national projects than regional. Again, not as a specific spatial scale if something is operating nationally, but if something has national impact, then that would be attractive to us. But we also recognise, actually, community is smaller scale. Community work or regional work could equally have national impact as well. Hopefully that answers some of your question, but if colleagues want to chip in on that, please do say.

Luna Dizon

Great. I'm going to move on to another question that Catherine's flagged.

6. They're looking at our aim for A Fairer Future. And they're interested in knowing how we view funding work that is brand new for an organisation, but is based on community feedback or involvement and funding work that intersects across at least two traditionally discriminated communities, and how this may reduce the number of those impacted.

Catherine Hillis

Brilliant. Yeah, I put my hands up for this one, because I thought it was a really interesting question. And it probably speaks to a lot of what we're trying to do under our A Fairer Future impact aim. And so to take the two parts of the question in turn. One of the things that you'll see that we talk about quite a lot in terms of what we're looking for is track record of an organisation. And what we mean by that is looking to see what the organisation has achieved before in terms of influencing change, creating change. So that's for us in A Fairer Future, that's often about impacting on policy or practice. And we'll look for evidence of that, or for modelling something different, sort of reimagining how something in the system could work and showing that is possible. So when we will generally look for that in the track record of impact in the organisation, but it might be that the organisation has chosen to do something new and different. And obviously, when that is based on feedback from a community impacted, that's music to our ears, to know that an organisation does listen to those it seeks to serve, that it does co-design and create new solutions with communities. So yeah, with that, we would definitely not rule that out. And the fact that you're working alongside communities to try something different, and to test something different, would be something that we would be interested in while still looking at what the organisation has done previously before.

In terms of recognising the ways in which different communities can be discriminated against, and the kind of intersection of that, and injustice that communities can feel. Again, that's something that we are very mindful of when we read applications and talk to organisations. And certainly, if you were targeting a smaller number of people, because they were at the intersection of different injustices, we would be very mindful of that. And again, what we would be looking for is not only the benefit for that group of people, but also how you're sharing the learning how you're working with others, how you're using that information to try and influence change within systems. So hopefully that answers the two points, but do do come back again in the Q&A, if not, thank you.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Catherine. I'm going to move on to Graham's question.

7. Can you explain what Esmée means by understanding what the change will feel like in the expression of interest?

I'm going to just put that to the panel. Any takers?

Alison Holdom

I'll have a go. Yes, I'm sorry, that is rather vague language, isn't it? It depends entirely on what of our funding priorities your work links most closely to. So the feeling might be something very, very tangible in the sense that there is a direct change in something that controls the issue. In Creative, Confident Communities, it's about a lot more, it's perhaps more about community, the sense of pride of civic pride, a sense of pride in your place, and ability to feel that you have power over decision. So it can really vary across the aims of the of the Foundation.

Luna Dizon

Thanks Al. The next question I'm gonna ask is for Catherine.

8. And so this person's programme falls into two A Fairer Future priority areas, children and young people and racial justice. So they've asked: is it better to focus on one or will it strengthen the expression of interest or application to make clear how it will fit both priorities?

Catherine Hillis

Yeah, thanks for the question. It's a good one because we see a lot as I was just saying before, a lot of intersection across the different priorities in a A Fairer Future. I would say when you look at the priorities, just just think about what resonates most for you as an organisation and right for that. If it feels that, in terms of those outcomes that you'll see for racial justice, there's something there that really feels like a good fit to your work, write to that one. And don't worry too much about the crossover with the other priorities because in some ways this is Esmée's issue. How it fits the strategy is our problem, not your problem. Your problem is how you deliver the work of your organisation. So please, just write to what resonates most with you. And we can do the work internally to think and certainly if you submit an EOI, and then we have a phone conversation, that's exactly the sort of thing that we would tend to discuss at the phone call, about which priority it's under or which outcome within each priority. And that's something that we would have a conversation about as we move through the process. Thank you.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Catherine. I'm gonna ask Anna's question next. So this is for Al.

9. If you are applying for core or unrestricted costs, would you still be looking for an expression of interest that focuses on a specific programme versus an expression of interest requesting support for the organisation's overall activities and theory of change?

Alison Holdom

So really, it's up to you to decide how you wanted to take that application forward, whether you want to put in an expression of interest for a programme, you can do just the programme. If you're coming to us for core or unrestricted costs, information will be really helpful about the strategy for the programme. But the programmes themselves often give us a really good insight into exactly how your work happens, and exactly what the impact of that work is. So in a sense even though you're not getting a huge amount of room in the expression of interest, if you're applying for unrestricted or core funding, it's good to give a little bit of information about a specific programme that you think illustrates the work and the impact you have the best.

If you're applying for a programme, it's also helpful to give some background to perhaps previous developments in the same area, how that programme was developed or where that programme came from. In both cases, it's good to have a little bit of both so that we can get a really strong sense of who you are as an organisation and where the programme has come from. So it's some sort of a balance of both, but I would say more emphasis on the organisation, if you're applying for core, more emphasis on the programme, if you're applying to that.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Al, I'm gonna stick with you for a moment and ask Kath's question.

10. Is the Creative Confident Communities aim about communities of interest or just geographical?

Alison Holdom

It's geography and place, first and foremost, but we recognise that communities of identity or issue exist within a place, and that people may be considering applying to us to fund activity that primarily focuses on that identity or that issue. So if you are doing that, the work would need to demonstrate that it's impacted specifically for that by that place, that the issue is specifically impacted by the situation in that place. And we'd also need to understand how that work that you're trying to do around that particular issue, around that particular community would impact that place and how, perhaps strategically, it could have an impact beyond that place and beyond that issue. And so I think it's really recommended that you look at the place-based element of it, as well as the issues like what is it particularly about the place that's making this issue or perhaps the way that you're dealing with the issues specific to your place, but also could have wider impact on that place beyond that community, but perhaps on those communities in other places.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Al. So I'm going to take a couple of questions. They're both kind of a little bit related.

11. So one is from Carlos, who asks about our £100k turnover, particularly in terms of us wanting to support unusual collaborations and communities or people most affected and involved being involved in leading the change. And so it's quite a long question. I won't read it all out, but hopefully you'll get the gist. So their question is: Taking into account that we don't fund organisations with less than £100k turnover, which directly and indirectly leaves many of the groups out of any possibility to apply for funding straightaway, particularly community groups and non-registered charities and companies, how do you really plan to support these organisations? And so that's the first question.
12. There's another question here from Mary, who works for Imkaan, a national umbrella organisation for Black and racially minoritised women's organisations working to end violence against women and girls. They're concerned about the number of mainstream white majority led charities claiming to represent and reach Black and minoritised communities when they have evidence that this is not the case. So she asks, how do we monitor applicants to ensure they are genuinely reaching the communities they claim to reach?

Catherine, if that's all right, I'll I'll go to you, please

Catherine Hillis

I was about to volunteer myself for that, Luna. And thank you, Carlos and Mary, for two really interesting and thoughtful questions. I'll have a have a stab at both of them. So first of all, Carlos, yes, we are acutely aware that our turnover of £100k and our desire for three trustees or three directors, majority non-executive, excludes groups. And we were very conscious that it predominantly excludes organisations led by communities experiencing racial inequity and organisations led by disabled people, to groups or organisations that are historically underfunded by a lot of funders.

So, there are a number of things that we're doing around this. As Liam mentioned, New Connections, is our attempt to test what would it be if we remove those two criteria and reach out to fund more organisations that are led by communities experiencing racial inequity? That work's just started. You may have seen on Esmée's website and socials that we recently, were recruiting for a New Connections peer network facilitator. And the point of appointing somebody to work independently alongside is to work with those organisations, the 20 organisations that we will fund through that programme, to hear from them about their experiences and to think about what the ramifications are for us as an organisation. So we're live to it, and we're trying to do something about it to connect New Connections. We also, in our recent youth-led creativity fund, also removed the criteria around minimum income again, to test in one particular place. And in one particular fund, what would be the implications was in doing that. So we are trying to test and learn in a controlled way.

The reason why that we don't just lift the £100k turnover tomorrow, is that what happened when we didn't have that, where we were inundated with very, very small organisations that we wouldn't be able to fund and it comes back to this point about not wanting to waste organisations' time. But we're sitting with a tension here, we're trying to get a balance between not wanting to waste people's time but not putting in so many criteria that we are excluding groups, particularly those groups that we know are historically underfunded, and we particularly want to work with. So we're we're also under A Fairer Future, under our racial justice priority, we've again just appointed a consultant to work with us on that to listen to the organisations that we're funding through racial justice, where we have actually through 2023, our first year of funding intentionally under our racial justice priority, although we funded a lot of Black and racialised minoritised led organisations previously, this is the first time we've intentionally had the racial justice priority. So we've funded £3.5m under that priority last year. We're going to listen to those organisations and again reflect on Esmée's funding approaches and what they need to support us more on this. So we are mindful of it. We're working to think about what we can do as a funder. And we will update the learning from these various programmes and funds on our website as we go.

Mary's very important point about organisations perhaps claiming to have reach and credibility into communities that they don't. And again, we're very mindful of that. And again, as a funder, perhaps as we raise the bar about saying that we want organisations to be led by the communities they serve and to be reaching into those communities that there is a tension, perhaps with some organisations, to overclaim that and we are very mindful of that. The way that we look to address that is to obviously, we're talking to not only the organisations that we're assessing at any one time, but we're talking to all the organisations or the brilliant organisations already in our portfolio. Colleagues, try and keep their ear to the ground and to know what's going on in the sector. So we're trying to triangulate what we hear from organisations against what we hear from others in the sector, and trying to understand, I guess, some of those tensions that may be surfacing. We are always trying to think about how we best hear from organisations. We have reporting, and conversations, and we've really where an organisation says it's going to do something, and particularly if it is around diversity, equity inclusion, and we do try to make sure that we hear back from them on what they're doing, to hear about the barriers to their progress, but also to make sure that when they say that they are representing a community that they they are doing that. We won't always get it right, we totally recognise that. And we will always try and listen to all of our partners to hear about how we can best support. Hope that was clear, but to come back from Q&A.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Catherine. So I'm just gonna quickly say there's about six minutes left of this webinar on this. There's 18 open questions, I know, we're not going to be able to answer all of them in the time that we've got left. We'll answer a few more. But just to reassure you that we will answer all of these questions, any questions that we haven't got to afterwards, and we will send a link with those responses along with a transcript and the recording, to everyone who registered.

I am just going to ask a couple of questions. These are gonna go to Liam.

13. So there's a question about whether it's better for an organisation to meet all the outcomes for an impact goal, or to touch across multiple impact goals.
14. And then the second question is from Naomi, about whether we fund across all our priorities equally.

Liam McAleese

Thanks, Luna. So the first question, in both questions, actually, we recognise that the funding priorities are priorities we've set. And actually, the world is more complicated than that, and the issues we're seeking to solve intersect, both within priorities and between our aims. And we seek to challenge ourselves to make sure we're funding across those. We do and you'll see from our annual reports, in terms of actually the focus on each priority, we do pretty much cover each evenly in terms of our spend. And many of the grants cut across different priorities, and indeed impact areas.

In terms of the specific question that was asked around, is it better for an organisation to meet all outcomes or one impact goal. My advice is to really focus and be as specific as you can on the priority and impact goal that you're going for. We sometimes get organisations that feel they have to almost say something about every single priority. And that diversity sometimes makes it harder to really understand what their kind of unique offer is. And also, you know, how their work most contributes. So please don't feel that you need to meet all outcomes for one impact goal, or indeed refer to, you know, every single priority or goal that your work relates to. But please do be really clear on what the main focus of your work is. I hope that answers your question.

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Liam. And so, I'm going to go to Tom's question and this is quite long, so I'm not going to read all of it out.

15. But his question, the question is about statutory funding. And Al, if you're okay to just talk a little bit about what we think about that.

Alison Holdom

So firstly, obviously, we are really well aware of the impact of local authority cuts in funding on arts provision. And we're also equally well aware that our funding is relatively small, and there's no way that we can really make a strong impact on that across the whole country. So when you know, when we're not in a position to sort of step in and do anything on a broad scale, what would normally happen was that if a community has got together, and has its own venue, or its own civic space, and is providing community arts activity, and it's a collaboration, it's a piece of work that's jointly organised by the community, then we could fund into that. But we will be unlikely to directly step in to a defunded service, because I think what we will be looking for was to fund something that had come from the community, and that expressed what exactly the community wanted that arts offer to be. We are funding lots of different approaches in terms of this. One of the things that we funded previously was a project called Creative, Civic Change. Details of that are available on the Local Trust website. We were a partner with the Local Trust, the Lottery and Gulbenkian on that. And that was 15 projects where the communities had created their own arts provision for very hyper local communities, that's more likely to be the type of thing that we would support.

Further resources

Luna Dizon

Thanks, Al. So because we've only got a couple of minutes left, we will answer remaining questions after this webinar and share those with you afterwards.

I just wanted to share the last couple of slides or the last slide, which is just about support applying and further information. So in the slides, you'll see there is a link to accessibility-related support. So, if you're experiencing a barrier to the application process, there's a way that you can apply for up to £500 to support you through that. And there's also a link to our online FAQs. And there are a couple of questions I think about our funding data using 360Giving's GrantNav. So in the slides, there's a link for tips on how to use GrantNav and how to search not just our funding data, but also other funders' funding data. And then there are also a few other links to previous webinars we did where we went into a bit more detail about each of our strategic aims.

And we are already at one o'clock. Thank you, everyone for joining us today. I'm sorry that we weren't able to get to all of your questions, we will answer them and send you a link afterwards.

Is there anything anybody else wants to say? Fantastic. Okay, so I will be in touch later this week with the rest of the answers, and a link to the recording and the transcript. And thank you again, everybody, to the panel, Altan and Nana for doing the BSL interpretation. And I'll be in touch soon. Thanks everyone.