As London’s Community Foundation, it’s vital we shine a light on the realities of frontline charities and community groups working deep in the Capital’s neighbourhoods. It’s important that we can inform and inspire the donors who sit behind the funds we deploy and demonstrate our accountability for our mission. So that’s what we have done. Over a period of months, we engaged with London’s grassroots organisations, many of whom are recipients of funding from LCF, but others who were not.
This report, Voices from the Frontline, is not intended as an in-depth research piece, but rather it serves to paint a picture of what it means to be a grassroots organisation operating in London, right now.
As you may expect it’s a story of growing, and more complex, need – particularly on issues that are so pertinent to London, the future of young people and the threats they face; how we connect better as the Capital’s inhabitants; how we support the vulnerably employed or the working poor. It’s also one of relentless competition for funding, with grassroots organisations often stuck on a never-ending cycle of fundraising and too often faced with short-term funds with restrictions that too often won’t pay to keep the lights on.
But it also one of absolute inspiration, and not just the story of what can be achieved on small sums of money. There’s a quiet defiance running through the findings, and one that we will return to over the coming months. It tells the story of those organisations whose ambition is not about scale, diversification or replication, but it is ambition none the less. Ambition to be the trusted anchor in your life, the personal touch, the place of solace or refuge and run by people who inherently understand ‘your world’ and even further, may have been through your challenge. Empathy based on experience, however that is defined. These are powerful characteristics that we take seriously as a funder.
And so, what of LCF? How are we doing for London’s grassroots? It’s a testament to the team here at LCF that so many grassroots organisations believe we understand their challenges and go out of our way to help them. But we can always do more. Investment in our own digital capabilities to make their journey with us more responsive and time efficient and was a message we heard clearly. And how we can ensure our processes are as proportionate as possible to the size of grants and who we are supporting. This is work that was already underway at LCF and we’ll be sharing plans, and testing these with grantees, in due course.
Over the coming weeks and months, you can expect a series of blogs from LCF and our partners on the key themes from this report. Listening to London’s grassroots, and to the donors we inspire to support them, is why we exist. We look forward to listening to you more.
Click below to read the report.