A funder's guide to the cost-of-living crisis

Since the funder's guide to the cost-of-living crisis was published, we’ve sadly seen many of our predictions begin to be realised.

As the scale of the crisis became apparent, NPC published a funders’ guide to the cost-of-living crisis, exploring which groups would be worst impacted by the cost-of-living crisis, and how charities specifically were likely to be impacted. This guide explored where need was likely to soar and why, considered key areas such as staffing and commissioning, and made recommendations for how funders and philanthropists of all sizes should respond to what we consider to be as big a crisis as Covid, possibly bigger.

We recommend that funders:

  • Give more: inflation is eroding the value of pre-pledged donations and reserves, so in order to achieve the same impact, charities need more funding. Funders should talk to grantees to learn how costs are changing and consider uplifting grants where they can.
  • Give better: funders should lift restrictions attached to funding to help charities respond flexibly to changing circumstances. Where funders are considering new applications, they should make processes as simple (and decision making as quick) as possible.
  • Give differently: funders should consider if new organisations should be brought into their portfolios in response to changing needs. All decisions should make use of available data, such as 360Giving and NPC’s Local Needs databank.

Back in July, The London Community Foundation highlighted the relevance of what NPC was seeing nationally to the capital, such as the fact that 15% of Londoners were already facing fuel poverty prior to cost increases, and 9% of Londoners get at least some of their weekly food from a foodbank. Since the guide was published, we’ve sadly seen many of our predictions begin to be realised. Six in 10 charities funded by members of the London Funders network are experiencing staff recruitment and retention challenges, and many charities are reporting soaring demand.

Local community foundations are uniquely well placed to help address the cost-of-living crisis

More positively, we’re also starting to see funders change their approach to grant making in line with our recommendations. A recent survey by London Funders showed that 13% of funders had increased or uplifted their current multi-year grants, and a further 24% were planning to. 20% said that they had set up additional funding pots such as hardship funds, and 44% had increased the flexibility in terms of delivery and outcomes of current grants. In September, BBC Children in Need announced that – for the first time in its history – it would directly fund core costs for charities over the next three years.

Local community foundations are uniquely well placed to help address the cost-of-living crisis, with the ability to understand changing local need, to convene networks of funders and philanthropists, and to represent the sector in conversations with local authorities and other stakeholders. The London Community Foundation is already delivering great work in many of these areas. It is also currently fundraising for its Together for London appeal, to help communities, especially those who are marginalised and excluded, to get through this crisis.

NPC will continue to focus on the cost-of-living crisis over the winter, with regular updates to the guide for funders, resources for charities, and guidance for MPs and local authorities on working with charities through the crisis. Find our current resources here and stay up to date by following us on Twitter or LinkedIn.

To find out more about donating to The London Community Foundation, sign up to their newsletter here. If you are a charity responding to the crisis, find out how you can apply to the Together for London fund and follow The London Community Foundation on Twitter and LinkedIn.