Event programme

Find inspiration, have in-depth discussions with peers, work through real-life challenges

The Abbey Centre, 34 Great Smith St, Westminster, London SW1P 3BU
4 March 2020, 8.30am to 17.00pm followed by drinks

How can funders & commissioners do more to support movements, communities and networks – not just projects, programmes and organisations?  

What are the risks and dangers in this approach? How can they be managed, embraced and enhanced to create impact?  

These are just some of the questions we will be exploring at our upcoming event Losing Control in Funding & Commissioning. 

This event aims to create a safe place to discuss the opportunities and challenges of funding & commissioning networks, movements and local communities.  It is specifically targeted at those who want to share learning and explore practical approaches, openly and honestly. To preserve this, we will not be sharing specifics of the conversations on social media and we ask that all attendees respect this.  We will be working with session hosts, speakers and attendees to publish a series of blogs, tools and next steps that emerge from the conversations post event.

Losing Control in Funding and Commissioning is kindly supported by:

8:30 to 9:00 Arrival and Registration

9:00 to 9:15 Welcome and introduction to the day

9:15 to 10:15 PLENARY 1: The opportunities and challenges of funding networks and movements

Uma Mishra – Newbery, Executive Director
Women’s March Global

Cristina Andreatta, Lead for the Transition Advice Fund
New Philanthropy Capital

Sally Zlotowitz, Programme Manager, Health Movements

Chair – Mary Rose Gunn, CEO
The Fore

10:15 to 12:15 Breakout sessions 1

Dawn Plimmer, Head of Practice & Toby Lowe
Collaborate CIC & Newcastle Business School

How to fund differently support systems change and better respond to complexity.

Type: In-depth discussion

This circle is for funders who want to understand how to fund differently, in order to support systems change approaches that better respond to complexity. It will showcase examples of how trusts and foundations have already begun this journey; encourage you to begin to create your own experiments to change and develop your practice, and to help shape these explorations. The conversation will be framed using the Human Learning Systems approach as described in Exploring the new world: practical insights for funding, commissioning and managing in complexity.

Magdalena Kuenkel, Elena Bagnera, & Bea Karol Burks

Centre for Public Impact & Nesta

Managing tensions - what role should foundations play when supporting movements and causes?

Type: In-depth discussion

This is a session for funders and those who have previously led movements and received or applied for funding in support of their efforts. Together, we want to explore the tensions and power dynamics between activists and those who support them, focusing on your stories and experiences. Together with you, we aim to identify ways to manage these tensions and discuss actions and possible solutions, informed by experience from both, funders and activists. In addition to your stories, we will leverage insights from Nesta’s and CPI’s recent Foundation Horizon Scan.


David Johnson & Helen Cooper
Cause 4 & Arts Council England

Getting creative with power and influence- How do our relationships shape the nature of art and culture at a local level?

Type: Challenge

Interactive session considering the range of relationships we establish when seeking, providing and enabling the exchange of funding in the creative arts space. Where does power reside and why does it matter? What relationships are important to democratise access to funds when working across large funding bodies and local groups and what does it take to shift, share and multiply power for greater benefits?

Hannah Paterson, Churchill Fellow & Senior Portfolio Manager
National Lottery Community Fund

Who decides where the money goes? Participatory grantmaking in why, when, how?

Type: in-depth discussion

Why should we use PGM? When should we use PMG? How do we use PGM?

Participatory Grant Making (PGM) is about devolving decision-making power to the very communities impacted by funding decisions. This session explores the different ways you can do this within a fund and starts a conversation off about whether and how we can start trailing and embedding this approach within funding decisions.

12:15 to 13:00 LUNCH

13:00 to 14:00 PLENARY 2: The opportunities and challenges of funding local communities

Matt Leach, Chief Executive
Local Trust

Stephen Perez, Arches Big Local Co-ordinator

Big Local

Kate Stewart, Director of Programmes
Power to Change

14:00 to 16:00 Breakout sessions 2

Susie Finlayson, Development Manager & Power to Change’s Community of Practice for Health & Social Care, Angie Wright, Nasim Qureshi & Bill Graham
Power to Change , B-InspiredInspired Neighbourhoods CICModality GP

You can’t commission a community if there is no-one in the community to commission!

Type: In-depth discussion

The idea of commissioning local communities to deliver statutory services is all the rage these days. But if the people and institutions that already exist in communities aren’t supporting and resourced to do what they do, and if what they do already isn’t recognised and valued then there won’t be anyone to commission to. In many cases rather than strengthen the community, there is a risk that well-meaning community commissioning strategies actually weaken, crowd out and undermine the very community they seek to strengthen. So what to do?

Using lessons from community-based approaches to delivering health & social care, including social prescribing Power to Change together with representatives from their Health & Social Care Community of Practice will share their learning and experience, and then lead us in an open discussion about how to make the most of community based commissioning, and how to avoid the potential pitfalls.

Chris Falconer, Head of Programme Delivery  & Stephen Perez, Arches Big Local Co-ordinator

Local Trust

The power (and the challenge) of providing long term, unconditional, resident-led funding to communities

Type: Challenge

Local Trust provides funding and support to communities across the country, primarily through Big Local where 150 areas have been given at least a £1m each with no strings attached to spend as they see fit. That is not perhaps as easy to do as it sounds. It has both significant power to create lasting, positive change but does not come without its challenges and learning for both funders and people from local communities themselves.

Jo Wells, Director & Philippa Knott, Policy Manager

Blagrave Trust 

Activism and grassroots movements for change: it’s a very different landscape for funders

Based on research conducted on behalf of the Blagrave Trust (https://thinkingdoingchanging.com/2020/01/13/learning-from-the-tide-of-youth-activism/)and hearing a youth-led movement this session will explore the implications for funders & commissioners in supporting youth activism and youth grassroots movements for change. The session will highlight the rationale, some of the challenges working in this way and the power dynamics that can play out – and be seeking your input and advice to real life questions.

Esther Foreman, CEO & Bob Thust, Co-founder
The Social Change Agency & Practical Governance

Funding narcissists, dictators and sociopaths; how can we avoid our funding perpetuating unhealthy power dynamics?

Type: Challenge

Networks and movements that exist to challenge the dominant power dynamic often find themselves replicating it as they grow. It seems that they either formalise their governance, or don’t formalise yet leave in place informal, unnamed but still very real concentrations of power. The systems set up to fund and support such networks and movements can easily hasten or perpetuate this challenge. How big an issue is that? How can we find ways past it?

16:00 to 16:15 BREAK

16:15 to 17:00 Final plenary: Review of the day and looking forward

A joint discussion of the day – what have we taken away? What might happen next? What connections can continue to be supported?

Led by the Losing Control team

17:00 Onwards: Join us at the Loose Bar and Kitchen: 51 HORSEFERRY ROAD, WESTMINSTER, LONDON, SW1P 2AA