Funding, Social Innovation and Social Care

This post was initially triggered by a Twitter discussion last week with Toby Blume chief executive of the Urban Forum who was attending the People Powered Change event #ppchange organised by the Big Lottery Fund. There have in recent months been a number of new social innovation initiatives with funding provided by diverse organisations. When I was running a charity I was very aware of the time and resources required to submit funding applications and to satisfy the funder’s requirement for demonstrating the outcomes of a project.

It feels like there is a real need for more joined up and connected thinking across the public, third, social enterprise and private sectors. The lines are becoming increasingly blurred in terms of who delivers front line public services. There is the real danger of duplication which was highlighted in the newly published Audit Commission report: Joining up health and social care Improving value for money across the interface.

As an example of the time being spent on submitting funding applications @DameHilaryBlume provided the following calculation. There were 1401 applications to the Silver Dreams Fund. Assuming 5 days work was required to complete the application that equates to 28 years of one person’s work. Rattling a tin for charity in the same time period could raise £1.4million assuming that £200 in donations could be raised in a 7 hour day.

@PeterWanless Chief Executive of the Big Lottery Fund responded by making the fair comment that “these figures assume a traditional application form and process. Silver Dreams is a call for ideas which organisations are then supported and paid to to develop. The serious investment will come when the best ideas are selected”.

It is worth looking at the Big Lottery Funding page. They are funding an impressive range of programmes across the UK and giving grants from £300 to over £500,000 to organisations ranging from small local groups to major national

Some of the recent funding initiatives relevant to social care (please feel free to add to the list)

The Silver Dreams Fund is pioneering ways to help vulnerable older people deal more effectively with life-changing events. The Big Lottery Fund is making a £110 million investment in older people in association with the Daily Mail.

Living Well with Dementia the Design Council and the Department of Health are running a competition to rethink life with dementia. The challenge is to help people with dementia and their carers live easier, better planned and more enjoyable lives. There were 150 applications and 5 ideas were selected which will be funded to deliver their working prototypes by March 2012.

Keeping Connected Business Challenge – the Design Council and the Technology Strategy Board competition to develop innovative services that keep older adults better connected through a £495,000 fund. 9 projects have been selected for stage 1 of the Keeping Connected Business Challenge

The Innovation in Giving Fund run by NESTA with the Office of Civil Society issued an open call for ideas to the £10m Innovation in Giving Fund. Proposals were invited which had the potential to deliver a significant increase in the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money. They received well over 400 applications and shortlisted 62 applicants to go through to the next selection phase.

Interesting questions and thoughts were shared on Twitter from the People Powered Change event and it is worth reading the Storify of the Workshop @johnpopham

Some comments from Twitter:

@willperrin Lets have a giant discussion forum for people applying to lottery bidsavingexpert maybe
@cased: How do we use funding to build local networks at scale instead of creating 2 way dependency relationships?
@dansutch -171 thousand charities spend £2.6bn on fundraising and PR to get £4.5bn in individual donations-broken equation
@judehabib ‘it’s all about storytelling.. Charities can’t afford not to make most of their stories’
@Andy_Malone Exploring how grant funding can be more than just a source of finance and how it can help support community action

I would like to explore:

How all of these initiatives and projects are being embedded in local communities and what are the links being made with social services, health organisations and the Health and Wellbeing Boards?

Keeping track of all the social innovations in social care underway is a challenge – do we need a central portal which links all of the initiatives or as Will Perrin suggests a discussion forum to support organisations in making funding bides?

Would it make sense to try and standardise funding applications?

I have been told by many small organisations that they are unaware of, and have difficulty in keeping track of, all the funding initiatives. I have promoted the excellent NCVO Funding Central guide to grants, contracts and loans which includes a regular eletter.

How else can we help signpost the information and advice that is available?

Would it be useful to research how much time organisations are spending on funding applications generally? The resources required to submit funding applications is a big issue especially for small and start up organisations.

I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of people who use services and carers organisations about their involvement in these projects and what other support services they would like to see being developed.

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