In 2019 we commissioned the Center for Effective Philanthropy(opens in new window) (CEP) to help us understand how the organisations we support find working with Comic Relief. Here, we’ll share with you what this work involved, what we’ve learnt and what we’re doing differently as result.
What it involved
To help us to understand what it’s like to receive funding from Comic Relief, CEP asked all of the nearly 1000 organisations we supported in 2018 to complete a survey. The survey asked organisations to share their experiences across a number of different themes, including our understanding of their work, the quality of our interactions, and our application, reporting and evaluation processes. This all happened anonymously in the hope that partners would be more candid in their feedback. To allow for benchmarking, 48 of the 57 questions asked were kept consistent with those posed by other funders working with CEP.
A big thank you to each of the 523 organisations who completed the survey!
In sharing their findings, CEP highlighted the non-monetary support we try to give partners as one of our key strengths. Where we can, this includes bringing partners together to collaborate and share learning, as well as offering additional capacity building support. CEP also found that partners welcome our emphasis on learning and appreciate our flexibility. One response commented that, ‘They are realistic and encourage you to revisit outcomes if the project changes and they offer advice about better ways to evaluate and capture learning’.
The findings also highlighted several areas where we can improve. Partners told us that we need to be better at sharing our strategy, being clearer about our goals and priorities. We were pushed to further streamline our processes to reduce the resource burden we place on those organisations applying for and receiving funds from Comic Relief. Partners also encouraged us to offer more core and flexible funding. They flagged this type of support as valuable in helping them to cover day to day expenses and be more able to respond to the challenges and opportunities they face.
Some of the things we’ve put in place in response
We’ve created a new version of our Social Change Strategy(opens in new window) outlining how we seek to make change in the world. This is part of our efforts to improve how we communicate with organisations applying for and receiving funding from Comic Relief.
This research has helped us to focus in on what we can offer in addition to money, so we’re also exploring what our offer should look like. This includes thinking through how we can do more to support organisations to work together in partnerships and to leverage our funding to attract additional resources. We will share more on this in due course.
We will continue to invest in core organisational costs. Nearly all our recent calls have included opportunities to request core funding but the CEP results have shown us we can get better at advertising these opportunities, so we’ve been improving the website experience and information available there.
We’ve moved from a single application form that all applicants completed, to a stage 1 form that is half the length. Only those that are eligible and fit the criteria best are taken forward to submit further information. We have also tweaked the information we ask for about trustees, so that instead of all applicants submitting the same information we do follow up requests on an individual basis, as needed.
We will maintain our commitment to being a flexible funder and work toward embedding this principle throughout our programmes.
We will continue to ask the organisations we fund for feedback on a regular basis and will share updates here about what we change as a result.