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Reflecting on our 2020 grant-making – what are the numbers telling us?

Author: Hilary Cornish, Evaluation & Learning Manager

Our Evaluation & Learning Manager, Hilary Cornish, takes some time to look back at the numbers behind our 2020 grant-making in this blog post, identifying key trends, notable changes, as well as what we at the Trust can do some more digging into.

Each year we reflect on our grant-making in detail, spending some quality time with spreadsheets, as well as combing through all the reports grantees send us. 2020 was an exceptional year in so many ways, and that’s had an impact on our grant-making. I’ll dive into the learning from the evaluation reports in a separate blog, but here I’ll focus on what the numbers tell us about our grant-making. Firstly, a big change…

  • We made 219 grants distributing £13.3m (a 25% increase of £3.3m on 2019).
  • This is explained by 98 grants responding to COVID-19, totalling £1.8m.
  • And a large grant of £1.5m to Justice Collaborations for an initiative to strategically improve immigration advice, and another grant of £500k to a collaboration with City Bridge Trust and others to improve civil society infrastructure in London (Cornerstone).

The rest of the findings below will focus just on our main grant programme, and won’t include either COVID-19, Justice Collaborations or the Cornerstone project – which were all exceptional grants and make it hard to compare to previous years accurately.

  • We had 367 applications last year – a 27% increase compared to 2019.
  • We think this partly explains a lower success rate - 31% of applicants received a grant (last year 41%).
  • We notice that some programmes had higher rejection rates – and we are looking at our guidance on how we can be clearer about what we will fund.
  • We made more three year grants in 2020 – 57% (compared to 50% in 2019).
  • And only 12% of our grants were for one year or less (mostly research projects).

In 2020, 42% of the open grants we made included an explicit aim to strengthen the voice of those with direct experience of poverty and inequality, up 10% on 2019.

  • We aim for a third of our grants to go to groups we haven’t funded before. In 2020, it was closer to a quarter (23%, compared to 31% in 2019).
  • We’re not sure why this dropped in 2020 yet - we think that might be a response to COVID-19, but we will keep an eye on it going forward.
  • 41% of our 2020 grants went to organisations led by those they serve, which we currently define as having both a ‘for and by’ ethos and at least 50% of the leadership being from that group.
  • These include 16 Black or Minority Ethnic organisations, 12 migrant organisations, 11 Deaf and/or Disabled People's Organisations (DDPOs), and five women’s organisations.
  • We also noticed that there is a difference in average grant size across the groups – something we think reflects the size of organisations, something we plan to explore.
  • We also didn’t fund any LGBT+ organisations.
  • The end beneficiaries of our grant spend remain broadly similar varying no more than 5% for most groups.
  • In 2020, 46% of our funding went to projects specifically focussing on Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and/or migrant beneficiaries, 3% to women, and 1% to LGBT+ people.
  • We did fund more projects to support Deaf and Disabled Londoners in 2020 – 10% of our funding, compared to none in 2019. However, in 2018 it was 14% and this reflects the funding pattern of our Strengthening Voices, Realising Rights special initiative.
  • We also awarded less to projects specifically for Children and Young People in 2020, from a high in 2019 of 17%, in 2020 this was 9%. Again – a good proportion of this variation is part of our special initiative Moving on Up, tackling employment disparities for young black men.

N.B These figures are for projects that have a specific focus on particular groups, and don’t include general or area specific projects, with a mix of people experiencing poverty (so for example don’t include a general advice service project where clients might be 60% women, 40% Black or Asian people, and 15% Disabled people.

  • 34% of our grants went to organisations with less than £100k annual income, an increase on both 2019 (29%) and 2018 (25%).
  • In 2020 the average grant size to these small organisations also increased, meaning that 33% of our grant spend when to these small organisations, compared to 18% in 2019.  This is a 15% increase!
  • This partly reflects the trend of making longer - 3 year - grants.

So that’s what the numbers are telling us – we can see there are changes and trends. Some welcome, others that will be prompting some further investigation and action! We publish most of this data publicly, both as a list, and through the 360 Giving standard – both of which you can download and dig into further.

We have some work to do before we publish data on types of organisations and beneficiaries – which comes under the heading of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) data. At the moment, funders are working together to ensure that it’ll be consistent and meaningful to really understand what’s going on, beyond just the Trust.

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15 April 2021