Guest blog: Less talk, more action - Recommendations for funders in a time of Covid-19

In this guest blog, Comic Relief's Dilhani Wijeyesekera discusses good practice recommendations for funders.

The devastating impact of Covid-19 on people, communities, and front line organisations around the UK, is a reality that cannot be ignored. As funders, we all have to take responsibility, collectively, to create long-term change to address the entrenched structural inequalities that exist in our societies, and which are reflected in our funding systems. 

Over the last few months, I have been asking myself hard questions about what it will take to create the level of change that is needed. I personally have been influenced by the important campaigns and actions coming from the likes of Charity So White, Future Foundations and the Ubele Foundation. They have all called for urgent action from funders, and acted as critical voices in this crisis. In particular, highlighting the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people in the UK, and the lack of access, representation, and investment into organisations led by these communities.

The crisis has also affected many other vulnerable groups such as, women, refugees and migrant people, disabled people, marginalised LGBTQ+ people, and people locked in poverty.

We are now five months in, and while some steps are being made with new funds being launched, we know more needs to be done, and our action needs to be long-term.

My response now to my question is that action has to start for change to happen. By taking action, the process of learning, refinement, and rebuilding of trust, can begin. It requires us to set out new values, ways of working, ways of listening, and ways of acting. 

It is also my view that no one single act will be enough. Impact requires collaborative, sustained, multi-level actions to be taken by us all – not by our institutions, but the people within them; and not in isolation, but working across government, charities, private sector and communities. 

I've been part of a small group of people who have been working together to develop practical steps to support funders on their equity and inclusion journey in their programmes. These recommendations are not perfect, but they are a good starting point particularly if you are new to this work. We’ve also pointed out platforms where you can go to learn more.

While these recommendations have been written to support funders in their work during this crisis, it is my hope they will continue to be used to inform the sector’s efforts to support recovery, and evolve into embedded practices that will support change beyond this significant period of change.

Dilhani Wijeyesekera
Head of Influence
Comic Relief

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