There is a growing understanding that standard, narrowly defined and prescriptive approaches to funding & commissioning are not suited to addressing many of the social challenges we face.
The world and people’s lives are messy and very often do not follow predictable patterns; set targets can create perverse incentives to achieve them rather than address underlying causes; compassion and humanity can easily be lost in the name of efficiency; there is a tendency to focus on weaknesses and deficits, rather than the strengths and assets of those to whom support is targeted.
Yet finding alternatives is not easy. It requires a funder or commissioner to live with a great deal of uncertainty; to accept failure as part of the learning process; to trust people and communities more to take a lead; to invest over the long-term and build lasting relationships; or even just decide to get out of the way. All of this goes against the grain of the pervasive legal, compliance and governance systems of many institutions. There are real challenges too, with finding the right balance between letting go and allocating scarce funding responsibly and fairly.
These challenges can place immense pressure to revert to business as usual. Worse, perhaps they can also lead to paying lip service to concepts such as ‘movement-building’, ‘coproduction’ or ‘asset-based community development’ without making any fundamental changes . In the end this can do a great deal more harm than good – promising much, but in the end with the same underlying approaches and power dynamics. This can leave people more disillusioned than when they started, and can crowd out or distract from genuine attempts to rebalance power and control.
The Losing Control in Funding network is a chance to hear from, meet, get support from and give support to others that are trying to find effective ways to shift power and rethink accountability in funding. We believe that sharing stories, opportunities and challenges in safe spaces like this can help to build relationships, raise awareness and encourage critical reflection. For us this is a vital part of bringing about meaningful and effective change on the ground.
These are just some of the questions we are exploring together in the network.
*sessions will be held online for the foreseeable future
What we ask of you
Action Learning Sessions are a powerful process where a diverse group of practitioners come together and through reflection, listening and questioning, members work through issues, share ideas and challenge each other in a supportive environment.
Our current members include trusts and foundations, local authority grant makers who have a particular interest in how to shift power in grantmaking.
Your membership includes space for two people in your organisation. We recommend that these people represent different parts of your organisation to widen perspectives, but it is completely up to you who they are.
The first Losing Control events had profound impacts on many of our partners and on our own organisation so we’re excited to make a long-term commitment
Losing Control will help our partners to expand their network, learn from each other, build relationships and collaborate to devolve power to local communities
Losing Control will support the grassroots groups of lived experience that we are working with to amplify voice whilst at the same time help our internal shift to a new way of working
We are pleased to be a part of Losing Control, joining other people passionate about collaborating and challenging the conventions of how we get things done.
As partners, we want to run these sessions because we’re passionate about the topic of shifting power in funding, and really value the opportunity to come together and learn with you about issues that impact our wider work and social missions. We aim to cover our costs, rather than make a profit from convening the sessions.
The Blagrave Trust and Lankelly Chase have each generously contributed £10,000 to support the continuation and strengthening of this network.
We recommend a contribution of £600 per organisation. This will provide access for two of your team members or trustees to join all sessions spread over the 12 months.
Contributions are calculated on a pro rata basis. It’s important to us that membership is accessible to all. If you are a smaller funding organisation, or have a limited budget then please let us know.
If you’d like to become a member of the Losing Control in Funding network simply complete the application form below. We review applications on a regular basis and will get back to you as soon as possible.