By Clem McCulloch, Communications & Fundraising Officer
There are a few ways organisations such as ourselves raise money: we ask for funding from charitable trusts and philanthropic foundations; seek government funding; or ask individual supporters for their help. Actually, there’s another way – we could also take donations from corporates, but that’s something we’ve chosen not to do in case they want us to compromise on our independence in return.
Now when we’re given money by trusts and foundations, this is usually ‘restricted funding’, which means we can only use it for very specific things. This is great for making sure we’re using the money right and sticking to our goals, and it’s totally understandable that trusts and foundations want to be able to track their money. It’s clearly important that the Government tracks how its grants are spent too, as it’s our money they’re spending anyway! But it does make it hard to pay for the things that these institutional funders don’t often want to put their money toward, like paying the rent…
That’s where another type of funding comes in. There are loads of terms for this type of support – ‘core funding’, ‘general operating support’, ‘unrestricted funding’ – but what it boils down to is the money we need to keep things going day-to-day. Some trusts and foundations help us with unrestricted funding, but there’s a relatively small field of those willing to do so. The vast majority of our budget is for specific projects and can’t be used for anything else. That’s why we’re asking you for help.
Donations from generous supporters like you is really important for us to be able to grab opportunities that need swift action.
Unrestricted funding is really important for us to be able to grab opportunities that need swift action, because applying for funding from a trust can take a little while, and it’s really important for making sure we have the time to dedicate to key long-term projects. The work we’ve done recently on making sure the Department for Work & Pensions changed the law so pension funds have to let us know what they’re doing with our money is a great example. It’s been a long fight – it’s taken eight years to get to this point – and there’s still work to do. Now we want to change the law to ensure our pension funds have to listen to their members’ views, because we know their members want their money used to protect communities and the environment.
Pensions aren’t everybody’s favourite conversation topic, and when you mention the investment system to your friends, their eyes glaze over. We’re working hard to change that, and to show the huge power of our pensions to affect the real world, right now. But it’s still a relatively niche topic, and we’re not exactly a traditional charity, so fundraising can be a little tough. Our supporter base is dedicated and active, but it isn’t huge, so compared to larger international charities, we’re able to ask far fewer people.
We’re immensely grateful to the existing collaborators and supporters who help us get things done in so many ways, like the more than 3400 of us who responded to the DWP recently to get the law changed. We’re also extremely grateful to those who are helping us keep the lights on. It would be fantastic if you could join us.
Thanks Clem! To make a donation to ShareAction, click here.