How can we support our grantees to reach those who could benefit the most from their projects?
Like many funders, we ask our grantees to tell us about who they are reaching with our funding.
Collecting this data takes up their time and effort, so we have a responsibility to ensure we’re asking the right things and making good use of what they tell us.
We were interested in whether and how our funding was getting to “hard to reach” or “underserved” beneficiaries – recognising the problems with both these terms.
The resulting research, conducted by InFocus, has helped us to dig into this question in more detail. You can download their full research here.
InFocus have also produced a guide for Grant Managers at other funders, which helps them to have collaborative, structured conversations with their grant holders to think about this topic in more detail.
We believe that that this work is important for several reasons:
1. Perhaps most importantly, with finite resources, there is a moral argument for funding to be spent in a way that reaches those who can benefit the most. Working out what “types” of people this might be is of course easier said than done – but the suggestions in the Guide help to unpick this in a way that is tailored to what each project is trying to achieve.
2. Secondly, we know that by understanding who we are reaching now, we can start to understand where are gaps are. At Spirit, we are really interested in barriers to participation across arts, culture, sports and volunteering. The majority of our grantees are actively working to reduce these barriers. This research asks whether they are collecting information that genuinely helps them to improve their practice and take their projects to the next stage.
3. Finally, as funders we have to be really mindful that by asking for the wrong data we could be at risk of setting perverse incentives. You can’t always find the “most in need” simply by looking at demographics or postcode information. Neither does “most in need” which doesn’t always tally with who might benefit the most for a particular project. Some initiatives may be inappropriate for individuals with complex needs, but have a profound effect on others. Grant monitoring forms and nuance don’t always go together – but we should try to build it in!
This research would not have been possible without the thoughtful engagement of our grantees – almost all of our (then) current grantees took part through surveys, interviews and group discussion.
If you’d like to speak to us more about it, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Our Head of Learning and Impact will be running a webinar with InFocus for grant funders interested in this topic on 19 June from 14.00–15.30. You can sign up by getting in touch with Tom Keyte – email@example.com.