Maximizing match-funding opportunities

Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde

By Daniel Ferrell-Schweppenstedde, Policy and Public Affairs Manager, CAF

The voluntary sector will be an essential part of this country’s post-Covid-19 recovery process, and will have a major role to play in making the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda work for all communities.

But many charities themselves are already struggling and smaller ones have been particularly hard-hit by the crisis, as shown by our survey of small charities in February 2021 which showed three in five expect to see a continued loss of income sources, and half predicted that challenges will remain from a loss of fundraising sources (48%).

Government support alone is unlikely to be enough to fill the gap, so we need to think about imaginative ways to work with a wider range of stakeholders to leverage further funding and activity to support the recovery. One of the ways could be for government to focus on developing more match-funding opportunities.

Match-funding so far

Out of the initial £750m government support package for charities, £85m was allocated to the Community Match Challenge to match-fund the fundraising efforts of various organisations. CAF has been part of the Community Match Challenge programme through our CAF Resilience Fund. £20m of funding was raised from the Covid-19 Support Fund, created by the insurance and long-term savings industry in 2020 in response to the pandemic. This was matched by £20m of funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The fund has so far distributed more than £19m to charities to deliver rapid relief from the impact of the crisis, and will go on to provide further support designed to build longer-term organisational and sector-level resilience for the future.

The government has harnessed match-funding in other ways, too. For instance, £37m was provided to match individual donations, pound for pound, raised through the BBC Big Night In fundraising event.

The future of match-funding

Future events and partnerships with the sector might provide further opportunities for match-funding that can draw in business, individual philanthropists and private funders—either at a national or at a regional / local level. And this could take a wide variety of forms.

One possibility would be to use match-funding to stimulate investment in digital transformation through infrastructure and training, which would be beneficial in ‘future-proofing’ the sector and those working in it.

Another possibility would be focussing on place and using locally-focussed match-funding to stimulate civic philanthropy, which could be an important element in delivering the levelling up policy agenda.

Government has already invested in six place-based giving schemes in England through DCMS’s Growing Place-based Giving programme, which CAF helped to deliver. These are targeted at supporting local communities and the civil society organisations that serve them. Their value has become even more apparent, as schemes were able to pivot in response to new challenges, helping communities to weather the storm of the pandemic.

There are various roles that different stakeholders can play in developing these place-based approaches and cultures of civic giving. Local civil society organisations can build an understanding of the motivations for place-based giving and local philanthropy. Funders can provide initial and early funds for infrastructure (such as hubs, peer exchanges and knowledge-sharing networks, philanthropy liaison offices, and place-based giving schemes). Government can also play a role by providing match-funding to kickstart initiatives on place-based giving, coming on board as a partner in existing schemes, or helping local councils and authorities to develop their own clear narrative about civic philanthropy and how to tap into its potential.

We shouldn’t pretend that this is a silver bullet of course, but as part of a wider policy agenda to support the future health and sustainability of civil society around the UK, match-funding can be a powerful tool.

We need to leverage further funding and activity to support the covid recovery. One of the ways could be for government to focus on developing more match-funding opportunities Click To Tweet
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