In an age of hardening borders, national divides and austerity, philanthropy looks to be coming home with a renewed interest in place-based giving as a way of tackling disadvantage. Cheryl Chapman looks at new initiatives and thinking on place-based giving
In November the City of London Corporation held a joint event with CAF to discuss the role of philanthropy in building civic identity.
Guest speaker Kristina Glenn, Director of Cripplegate Foundation and Islington Giving, a place based giving campaign, said giving to a geographical area: “is more than just targeted giving in a geographical place. It’s an approach, a philosophy to building a good place that involves funding, conversations, relationships, ideas and action. We believe and know that everyone can make a difference and we know our impact is greatest if we can work together.”
In seven years Islington Giving has raised almost £6m for the borough, made grants to 60 local organisations, helped 20,000 residents and has engaged 4,000 volunteers from all walks of life – what Glenn calls ‘the unusual suspects’ - to come together to make a difference.
It has also inspired London’s Giving, an initiative to develop place-based giving across the capital’s 32 boroughs, funded by City Bridge Trust, the City of London’s charitable funder, which is working to tackle disadvantage and inequality in London.
Place-based giving is now having an impact in 20 boroughs, including Lewisham, Newham, Camden, Hammersmith, Kingston, Hackney and Kensington and Chelsea and bringing a range of different philanthropic resources from an array of sources to bear.
How place-based giving has been established and developed across London is captured in a report called A Place to Give and, illustrated with case studies, from asset-poor Lewisham’s aim to encourage volunteering to Camden’s drive to boost employability.
In another new report on place-based giving that looks from the funder’s point of view at funding collaborations across sectors, the Institute for Voluntary Research (IVAR) highlights eight key elements of success - and many underpin the London schemes.
· Independent funding as a source of support for developing new ways of working
· ‘Collaborative champions’ or key individuals that can drive the work
· Developing appropriate processes through co-design
· Clarity about roles and responsibilities
· Listening and responding to service user voices
· Investment of time and resources in building relationships and processes
· Shared understanding about impact and reporting
· Sustainability and exit built into the process
Caroline Sawers of the Corra Foundation (formerly Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland) that is featured as a case study in the report for its Partnership Drugs Initiative in Scotland advises: “Arrive gently. Engage patiently. Stay awhile. We’ve learned that spending time listening first, building trust, and making a commitment for the long term are approaches that help place-based collaborations succeed.”
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is also focussing on place-based philanthropy as a way of rebuilding civic identity. Its 2017 report ‘Giving a Sense of Place: Philanthropy and the Future of UK Civic Identity’, by Rhodri Davies, suggests the time is ripe for a new age of civic philanthropy.
CAF believes that there is a role for philanthropy, not just in providing funds, but in giving people – high net worth individuals and others – a route to reconnecting with their community, by allowing them to give directly to solve some of the problems close to home.
Davies says: “Questions of a weakening civic identity and a growing North-South divide in the UK have become part of the mainstream political discourse. At the same time, new opportunities have arisen to try to address these challenges in the form of targeted policy agendas like the Northern Powerhouse, the introduction of directly elected mayors in certain areas and the ongoing devolution away from Westminster. However the role of philanthropy has been absent from these debates. CAFs Giving for the City project is aimed at making philanthropy a central part of the discussion about the future of cities in the UK.”
Lankelly Chase is a foundation that is exploring the power of place based giving as part of its systems change work.
It says: “Given our focus is on people facing severe and multiple disadvantage, and our principle of putting them at the heart of what we support as well as realising that change comes from multiple players and in multiple different ways then it takes us to considering place based approaches.”
A key learning from its place based work over the last few year is understanding that the best role foundations can play is to support a range of partners, and a small number of places to focus on how they can enable the conditions for change to flourish – all the time taking a focus on severe and multiple disadvantage. For example, how can we help people see themselves as part of an interconnected whole? How can power be shared and equality of voice be heard? How can feedback and learning drive adaptation?
“As we’re not sure if this is the best approach, or where it will lead us we’ve framed it as an action inquiry. This, we hope, will give our partners space to learn, adapt and grow as the work develops locally.
The Foundation has published A Historical Review of Place-Based Giving approaches to change.
The aim was originally to help inform its thinking about the role Lankelly Chase could, and should play as a national foundation in supporting places to change the systems that perpetuate severe and multiple disadvantage.
However, they feel the findings of the work will be of use to others in national roles, such as those within Foundations or in the Civil Service, who are thinking about approaches that are nationally driven but locally delivered.
It provides an overview of analysis and learning from over 200 pieces of literature on place based approaches over the past 50 years – both government and foundation-sponsored – mainly in the UK but also in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia.
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