6 Sep 2021
16 Jun 2021
27 May 2022
To reflect the big ambitions for our organisation, London Funders' staff and trustees have worked with members for the past year to develop a new strategy for 2022 - 2030.
To coincide with the publication of the new strategy, we talked to Edith Galliers (LB Waltham Forest), who has been a trustee at London Funders for two years, and Emma Corrigan (The National Lottery Community Fund) who joined the Board earlier in the year. We asked what excites them about the new strategy, how we deal with uncertainty, and how our new strategy can enable us to drive long-term change for London’s communities.
The new strategy focuses on our purpose of bringing funders together to build a better London by taking action on what matters to our city and our communities.
Our ambitions are to:
To achieve this, we will:
The new strategy comes in the context of hugely challenging times for London. Both Emma and Edith feel the new strategy is exciting because it presents an ambitious and clear vision for how we can collectively respond to these challenges, building on the collaboration and shared values we have as a network.
As Emma says, the strategy comes at a time when poverty continues to increase, with more people tipping into disadvantage on a regular basis, so it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the challenge. “There is something about the simplicity that is really exciting. It’s important to be clear and reasonable in the challenging times we live in, it can be really difficult to be aspirational so having clear objectives is really important to make that positive change.”
Edith agrees: “I think that this new strategy is exciting because it is a clear response to this challenge. It is the culmination of over a year's work listening to the views of our members, understanding the challenges of the groups we fund, and considering what the challenges of London may be in the future. We have learnt from our past strategy, and the work during Covid, to create an approach to the way we work that will enable the work to be both resilient and dynamic in the face of uncertainty.”
For Emma, building on the collaboration and learning from the past about how we can work together is also key for the new strategy: “It’s really important to me that this strategy talks about building trusted connections and shared ambitions because increasingly working alone is hard and potentially ineffective. With constraints on our resources, time, and energy, we need to realise the mutual benefits of bringing ourselves to collaborative work.”
Speaking of uncertainty, we also asked our trustees the difficult question of how we deal with the uncertainty of what might happen between now and 2030. How can we balance the need to focus on the wider, long-term ambitions for London while being responsive when crisis hits?
Emma acknowledges the difficulty in striking the right balance. There will always be a desire to act with crisis funding to address immediate needs, she says, because this funding is needed to protect and support the sector where we can. After all, “there is no point investing in a sector that won’t be there”. At the same time though, crises are not going away, and if funders are diverting their work into crisis intervention it risks creating “a vacuum where we’re not looking after our future”. Perhaps the most important point in striking that balancing is ensuring we remain intentional about our work, even in times of crisis. The best way to do that, according to Emma, is to “show up every day, listen to our communities and then reflect on what’s being said against our strategic intentions”.
At London Funders, we are able to see the full diversity of work our members are doing, from the immediate, crisis responses to the longer-term funding programmes. Part of our role is to understand how and what ecosystem of funding and civil society we want to protect in the next ten years. In the new year, we’re excited to be joined by a new Membership Manager who will help us get a clearer sense of who is doing what and what members think it's important to protect for the future. As Edith points out, our strategy will help with this new work, ensuring that we strike the balance “between the response to the immediate issues while also having an understanding of the emergent issues so we can get ahead of the challenges”.
When there is one crisis after the other, it can be difficult to take a breath or find the time to think about the underlying issues that are often born into sharper focus when external events hit - be that the pandemic or the war in Ukraine. The new strategy, Edith says, will help us to ensure that our focus stays on “what matters to London” and how our shared values and ambitions “can deliver real and long-lasting change”.
However, to create long-lasting change , organisations need the capacity and opportunity to influence and do some of that lobbying and campaigning work. Emma points out that funders have an “opportunity to be a force for good” in that respect, but at the moment, we’re increasingly seeing that organisations “just don’t have the energy or the time to do that influencing work or even apply for funding”. If we’re going to bring about long-lasting change, we need to “continuously evolve our mechanisms for how funding is accessed” so that organisations don’t spend their limited capacity getting funding, but instead have the space to do the influencing work that’s needed to create change.
Emma says we also need to think about how wider systems can work better together for London’s communities. This is central to what we’re trying to achieve with our collaborative funding programme, Propel, giving organisations - especially those led-by-and-for communities experiencing disadvantage – the capacity, trust and flexibility to work out how to change the systems in which they operate, ultimately making our communities more resilient in the long-run.
Finally, we want to hear from members. As Edith says, “we want to understand how we can implement this strategy to have the biggest impact for you”. Please do get involved in our upcoming events or get in touch if you want to discuss more – we’re always up for a coffee!
If you are not a member yet but you are interested in being part of our journey please do get in touch, we would love to learn from your experience and have you as part of the London Funders movement.