Place-based giving – funder advice on making local change

  • ‘Place-based’ approaches are gaining momentum throughout the sector
  • Funders are seeking out local charities who understand the issues and solutions in their communities
  • One funding group shares tips to help local charities maximise their impact

Local, ‘place–based’ donation, enables businesses and those wishing to make charitable gifts, to engage with projects and organisations in their area, in order to drive positive change in the community.

Islington Giving is an independent group made up of funders, businesses, residents and voluntary organisations, which is working to tackle poverty and inequality in the London borough.

Islington is a place of striking extremes, where one in five people live in poverty alongside some of the wealthiest people in London, and some of the most expensive property in Britain.

Here, Islington Giving shares tips to help locally-focussed charities maximise their impact.

1. Build networks and talk to others

In our experience, organisations which connect with people in their local area are able to build mutually beneficial partnerships. The ethos of Islington Giving is to bring people together to find solutions.

Get to know others working in your area. This will help you to share learning, amplify your message and attract more support. As a funder, we see the positive impact of collaboration and actively encourage groups to work together.

For example, our Saturday Socials programme connects three organisations (All Change, Cubitt Education and North London Cares) to provide activities for older people at the weekends. Read more about this programme in our Annual Review 2016 in the section on reaching isolated people.

2. Show local impact and tell good stories

You know your local area in depth. You know the people you help and the issues that affect them. Take a step back from the frontline and think about how you could communicate these insights.

Think about how your organisation is unique. Are there any great success stories that would not have happened were it not for your work?

As well as providing statistical evidence to validate your work, humanise your message by telling stories about your achievements. A story can take many different forms, including a short quote, longer case study, photograph, video or thank you letter.

Build these stories into your funding applications, local appeals and news stories. For example, The Parent House tells excellent stories about the lives of the parents it helps.

As a funder, we are privileged to develop an extensive collective knowledge of the borough through the projects we fund. This helps to ensure we can allocate our funds where they are needed most.

3. Save time by making tailored applications

Applying for funding is much more effective when your application responds to the aims and criteria of the funder. It sounds obvious, but do read application guidelines. It can also be useful to see what has been funded in the recent past and the level of grants awarded.

At Islington Giving we take great pride in meeting and talking with applicants and other groups working in the borough. Not only does this help to improve our knowledge of local needs, it can also be useful for organisations thinking of making an application. Not all funders work in this way, but it may be useful to pick up the phone and have a conversation about your work.

The power of place

Funders increasingly recognise that understanding the nuances of issues and relationships at a local level is key to working effectively to improve lives. This can be good news for local organisations that are able to demonstrate their place-based knowledge and connections, particularly where they are strong on collaboration with others.

Place-based approaches are gaining momentum. The Islington Giving experience has catalysed the ‘London’s Giving’ movement across 23 other boroughs. This video helps bring it to life.

You can also read more about CAF’s Giving for the City project.