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The Funders’ Collaborative Hub: From development to delivery

On 1st October 2020, we are joining colleagues from across our continent in celebrating the European Day of Foundations and Donors, which aims to showcase the role foundations play in European societies for the benefit of all of us.

To mark this occasion, the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) is delighted to alert foundations across the UK to the progress of the Funders’ Collaborative Hub, which has now moved from development to delivery.

 

What is the Funders’ Collaborative Hub?

The ‘Hub’ is an initiative to enable increased understanding, closer alignment, and opportunities for foundation collaboration in the post-emergency phase of Covid-19. It aims to enhance the effectiveness and impact of individual and collective responses by foundations to Covid-19, focusing beyond the immediate emergency on recovery and renewal over the next 12-18 months, in order to maximise the potential of their resources to benefit civil society organisations and the communities they serve.

In recent weeks, the Hub has evolved from a project in development to one that is now delivering. In parallel with the creation of its web platform, the Hub has promoted the benefits of foundation collaboration, supported foundations to think collaboratively and enhanced their connectivity and partnerships. Here are four ways the Hub is delivering impact to foundations at this time of urgent need.

1. Engagement with existing collaborations

Ongoing in-depth conversations and user testing with existing collaborations have served a key dual purpose. Firstly, to gather intelligence and data to create content for the web platform. Secondly, to secure detailed views on what the Hub might become, and what services it might offer.

To date, the Hub project team has convened a series of workshops involving 30 foundation representatives and held more than 15 in-depth 1-1 interviews with funder collaboration leaders. These have been invaluable in shaping the remit and content of the web platform and in developing the wider plan for support and activity. In some cases, the collaborations have invited the Hub to play a strategic role in their development. For example, for a Hub representative to join a strategy groups for a major funder collaboration on children and young people.

In this sense, the process of collaboration engagement is proving an important product, with collaborations across the UK informed about the Hub, actively participating in its design, and benefitting from the Hub’s expertise to inform their own development.

[Right: Screenshot from the Hub platform, to be launched later in October]

2. Supporting nascent collaborations

Over the last month, there has been a substantial increase in interest in the Hub from individual foundations seeking to establish a funder collaboration on a topic of importance to them. The Hub project team has been able to respond quickly to these enquiries and expressions of interest. In each case, we have been able to signpost these foundations to others working in the same or similar field, make enquiries on their behalf about potential interest, broker conversations between mutually interested parties, and highlight useful evidence and research to inform their deliberations.

In due course, some of these functions will be enabled through the web platform, which we plan to launch later this month. In addition, the Hub will continue to encourage and receive enquiries from foundations that are at an early stage of their collaboration journey, offering bespoke responses, brokering and connection.

3. Showcasing the benefits of foundation collaboration

There have been several opportunities in August and September for the Hub team to speak in various fora about the benefits of funder collaboration, as well as promoting the role of the Hub in supporting foundations to do so. This has included contributions at The Wales Funders Forum, the Funders for Race Equality Alliance, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Institute of Fundraising, the Donors and Foundations Networks in Europe, and a meeting with Philanthropy Ireland.

Several future engagements are scheduled, including sessions for the Scottish Grant Makers forum, the annual conference of the Funders’ Forum for Northern Ireland, and the Small Charities Coalition. A webinar for ACF members on 8 October on foundation collaboration in response to Covid-19 (details below) will showcase the key ingredients for effective collaboration between funders. Engagements of this kind will remain a core part of the Hub’s delivery programme.

4. Engaging with wider civil society

A key aim of the Hub is to enable wider civil society to find out about funder collaborations, inform the development of collaborations with evidence, and bring to funders’ attention areas of concern and gaps. The Hub is building a stakeholder list of civil society representatives who want to learn about the work of the Hub and stay in touch with its development, and this group to date has received two update bulletins. To join this list please email Policy@acf.org.uk

The Hub continues to receive expressions of interest from civil society organisations on particular issues or causes, and notification of research and evidence that would be useful to funders making decisions about resource allocation and collaborations. In due course, these contributions will form part of the web platform’s content.

As part of the future work of the Hub, we plan to convene discussions of funders in response to issues raised by civil society organisations where there is a clear emerging need or gap identified.

How to get involved

Critical to the effectiveness of the Hub is involvement of a wide and diverse range of organisations. Please contact Max Rutherford, Head of Policy (Max@acf.org.uk) if you would like to tell us about a funder collaboration, seek support to develop your ideas, or provide input to the development of the Hub.

Please email Policy@acf.org.uk if you’d like to join the stakeholder list to be kept up to date with developments.

Webinar: Foundation collaboration in response to Covid-19

1.00-2.15pm on Thursday 8th October 2020

This event will set out the key ingredients for effective foundation collaboration, drawing on lessons from the past, examples from the present and plans for the future. It will also provide members with a briefing on the new Funders' Collaborative Hub. ACF members can book a free place here.

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