New blog by Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy: “Costs are rising – how should philanthropists and funders respond?”

A highlight of each month in the GRIN office is the blogs that Emma Beeston (of the Emma Beeston Consultancy) and Saran Taragon and Stephen Woollett of Clarity CIC regularly send in for circulation. These are always thoughtful, often challenging articles composed by individuals who have great experience of and insight into the not-for-profit sector. Today’s blog, which considers how philanthropists and funders should respond to the cost-of-living crisis, has been written by Emma Beeston, and is entitled:

“Costs are rising – how should philanthropists and funders respond?”

“The cost-of-living crisis is a double blow for charities who need to pay their own increased bills as well as responding to the increased needs of those affected in their communities. Add to this the fact that many are depleted from the experience of COVID which called upon them to use their reserves – both financial and people’s energy. In this time of anxiety and increased need, how should philanthropists and other funders respond?

“The simple answer is with generosity. Generosity means a willingness to give help, especially more than is usual or expected. It is not grudging but an open-hearted act to go above and beyond what is needed.

“There are many voices urging funders to respond to the current crisis by giving more. Suggestions include doubling whatever grant or donation they had in mind or raising the amounts given by 10% to keep up with inflation and prevent any grant losing its value. In the short-term, it means adding an uplift to any existing grants and in the longer-term, regularly reviewing the size of grant or donation on offer.

“However, it is important to remember that these actions have consequences for donors. It is not always an easy decision to give more. Their income source is also likely to have been affected (for example, rising costs and wages in a business or lower returns on investments). Giving more now may not be possible or may reduce the amount they have to give in future. Giving more to one organisation inevitably means helping fewer overall. To manage this, fund-givers will need to say ‘no’ more often or narrow their focus, and this in turn will have a knock-on effect for those seeking funds. This is the very embodiment of the ‘scarcity mindset’* where the funds available are seen as a finite pie – one person having a larger slice means less pie for everyone else. What we really need is a collective generosity – not just philanthropists and funders giving more, but more people giving.

“Generosity is not just about money. We also talk of generosity of spirit and heart – how we think about and approach others. Listening and learning can lead to deeper understanding of an issue and so better direct any available funds. Beyond money, there are other things that fund-givers can do to help. Adopting or continuing the practices of streamlining application processes and reducing reporting requirements ease the burden on stretched charity professionals. Providing unrestricted funds for as long as possible will help reduce worry and provide the flexibility for charities to allocate funds as needed in a changing situation. Working collaboratively can amplify resources and make it easier for charities to access funds from one source instead of many.

“In whatever ways we all can, now is a time for generosity.”

* New York based mental health organisation Very Well Mind has a useful article on the scarcity mindset.

Image: Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy. Emma advises grant-makers, companies and families on creating and implementing giving strategies.  For enquiries or to book a free 30-minute consultation, contact Emma at:
Tel: +44 (0)7810 543737
Twitter: @emmabeeston