Covid-19 Response - London Funders receives Charity Award

We were delighted to be announced as a winner of the 2021 Charity Award in the newly created ‘Covid-19 Response’ category. The award was given to the London Funders team in recognition of the work that the organisation has done to coordinate the London Community Response, to spearhead the ‘We Stand with the Sector’ statement, and to share best practice, intelligence and insights with funders since the pandemic began in March 2020. The ‘Covid-19 Response’ award was established to acknowledge the unprecedented and extremely challenging situation that civil society has faced since the pandemic hit.

There was no blueprint of how our members and the wider funding sector should operate, and over the past fifteen months London Funders has stepped up to provide invaluable guidance, leadership and a vehicle for practical collaboration for grant-givers, social investors and commissioners as they navigated this once-in-a-lifetime event.

London Funders has also worked with equity partners and friends across the sector to promote inclusive funding approaches, acknowledging that the pandemic is disproportionately affecting already marginalised and discriminated-against communities.

Accepting the award on behalf of the London Funders team, James Banks (Chief Executive) said:

We are so thrilled to accept this award, not just for London Funders, but for the 67 funders who worked with us to get £57.5m out in grants through the London Community Response, to over 3,600 amazing organisations.  We love our city, and the diversity of our communities, and are proud that over 75% of those grants went to groups led by and for minoritised communities

2020-21 has been a landmark year for London Funders. As well as talking with our members, and listening to our local friends and colleagues, we have been sharing our learning with colleagues across the country (and world). We’ve (virtually) connected with funders in every corner and nation in the UK – from Edinburgh to Essex - and have presented on what we have achieved in London to as far away as the USA, Singapore and New Zealand. We also helped to adapt the London Community Response model so that it could become the foundation of the national Community Justice Fund and the Social Enterprise Support Fund.

It’s been a pleasure and privilege to engage with our members, and we’ve seen first hand how dedicated they have been in supporting the communities they serve. And we’re just getting started!

Looking specifically at funding practice, we are working with grant-givers and our friends at IVAR to highlight how the 'We Stand with the Sector' statement has been used practically since March 2020. Building on this, we have been championing the #FlexibleFunders campaign to ensure that change ‘sticks’ so that the commitments become standard practice across the sector, and that funders have the tools to collaborate more outside of a crisis.

We’ve also released four reports based on learning from the London Community Response so far (and one on funding ‘After the Storm’), have hosted hundreds of events and meetings for our members, and have curated a ‘Covid Resource Hub’ for funders. In addition, we will soon be publishing a write-up of all of the sessions that took place at May’s Festival of Learning, and are looking forward to meeting our members at Al-Fresco action learning sets over the summer.

Reflecting on what we have achieved, James Banks said:

This award will spur us all on to continue this collaborative and equitable approach to funding, so that our city is fairer, greener and stronger for the future – thank you Civil Society Media and Rathbones for this Charity Award, and congratulations to everyone who has been recognised at the 2021 Charity Awards.

Looking ahead – in our 25th anniversary year – we will bring together even more learning as a platform for continued collaboration between funders to tackle the issues facing our communities so that every Londoner can thrive.