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Looking ahead: what next for Trust for London?

Author: Manny Hothi, Chief Executive, Trust for London

As our new Chief Executive Manny Hothi steps into post, he takes some time to look to the months' ahead, identifying four key priorities for the Trust moving forward in this blog post.

I have now been in post as Chief Executive of Trust for London for just under a month, having spent the last three years as the Trust’s Director of Policy. It has been a whirlwind few months since my appointment was confirmed, and I am grateful for the support provided by colleagues, trustees and our external partners.

The months ahead look to be equally jam-packed. Here's four things on the agenda:

In response to the findings of our Grantee Perception Survey, we are working with the social tech charity, CAST, to redesign our grant making processes so that they better meet the needs of our users.

Our aim is to improve the experience of applying for funding at the Trust. We want to reduce the burden we place on applicants, make decisions quicker and spend more time learning from you once we have given you a grant.

Small things can make a big difference. For example, we introduced a system where you can book a pre-application phone call with us to discuss your application. What we’ve seen so far on these calls is that we often find applications are not yet ready to meet our funding criteria. In these cases, we’re able to sign-post alternate funding routes or provide help on how to improve next time around, helping save hours of wasted application time.

We also want to do more participatory grant making, building upon our experience of working with Deaf and Disabled People’s organisations through our Strengthening Voices, Realising Rights initiative.

For some years now we have been trying to use our power as an investor to effect change in the world of business. We have used our investor power to push for companies to pay the London Living Wage, and partnered with ShareAction and its Charities Responsible Investment Network to work with other foundations on this agenda. We also use some of our endowment for social investment.

Our Trustees recently approved a new Investment Policy that bolsters our commitment to social, ethical, and environmentally responsible investing. Given our aim to reduce poverty and inequality, we want to particularly focus on the ‘social’ element – pushing businesses to do even more to reduce poverty.

During the course of the pandemic, we have worked with other funders through the London Community Response Fund, co-ordinated by London Funders, distributing £2.5m to support organisations responding to the crisis.

As we emerge from the crisis, we cannot let the inequalities that were exposed by COVID-19 highlighted in London's Poverty Profile 2021 go unchallenged. With this in mind, expect more focus from us in the Autumn on issues such as the plight of low-paid workers, racial justice and disability justice.

Our current five-year funding strategy was due to end in the summer of 2022, but we made the decision to extend it to 2023. This gives us the time to really absorb the impact of the pandemic and properly consult over what our funding priorities should be for 2023 to 2028. We’ll start this process in March 2022, with the new strategy being launched in June 2023.

In a sector that is riddled with financial insecurity, the Trust has the privilege of an endowment that gives us security and freedom to act. My commitment, as the Trust embarks on the next phase of its 130 year old journey, is that we will continue to do this by working alongside London’s communities, supporting them to lead the change we want to see.

In a city with the highest levels of poverty in the country, there is no time to lose.

28 July 2021