Valuing contribution above attribution: Foundation collaboration in response to Covid-19

With the Covid-19 crisis continuing to evolve and deeply impact civil society, foundations are increasingly seeking to think and work collaboratively in order to maximise the benefit of their resources, demand for which continues to grow.

Last week, ACF hosted a special event exploring excellent practice for foundation collaboration in response to the immediate crisis and beyond. ACF's Senior Policy and Engagement Officer, Joanna Pienkowska, reports on the event

Faiza Khan, Director of Engagement and Insight at the National Lottery Community Fund and a member of the Funders’ Collaborative Hub strategy group, chaired the event. Before introducing the panel of speakers, Faiza briefly shared her own experience of working in partnerships and the value it adds to the work of foundations by pushing boundaries and enabling innovation.

Based on IVAR’s extensive research on the topic of collaboration, Director and Co-Founder Ben Cairns, set out the most important ingredients for effective foundation collaboration. Ben warned that collaborations take time and cautioned against following the zeitgeist in funding since a pluralism of approaches is a key virtue of independent trusts and foundations. He highlighted the need for shared purpose and vision, effective leadership and infrastructure, and a safe space that acknowledges the human emotions of collaboration.

James Bank, Director of London Funders, echoed Ben’s emphasis on people and relationships being key to effective collaboration. Reflecting on the experience of the London Community Response Fund and the #WeStandWithTheSector statement of solidarity, James emphasised the value of supporters, critical friends and experts in the funding community who can strengthen the collaboration behind the scenes. He also spoke to the advantage of sharing data, learning, and knowledge in identifying where the needs are.

Clare Carter, Deputy CEO of the Access to Justice Foundation, shared insights from the Community Justice Fund, a collaboration working to address an identified need: strengthening the provision of legal advice during the pandemic. Clare spoke to the early impact of the collaboration in building trusted relationships, reducing workloads for applicants and speedily releasing large funds. She also reflected on the collaboration’s future, with plans to continue flexible funding and extend its reach to rural areas and those who are digitally excluded. 

The event also offered a briefing from Max Rutherford, Head of Policy at ACF, on the new Funders’ Collaborative Hub. The Hub is an initiative created by a coalition of foundations and civil society organisations, hosted by ACF, to enable increased understanding, closer alignment, and opportunities for foundation collaboration in the post-emergency phase of Covid-19. Please email if you’d like to join the stakeholder list to be kept up to date with the Hub’s developments.

You can view a recording of the webinar below:

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