How 2020 put our name to the test: Emergency funding
In this blog series, we’re looking back at this difficult, unforgettable year and the many ways Power to Change had to adapt to support the community business sector during the pandemic.
Like everyone else, our plans for 2020 were swiftly turned on their heads mid-March when our offices closed and we entered the first lockdown. Whilst this year has been tough, like the community businesses we support: we mobilised, took stock of the sector and completely changed our ways of working.
This blog outlines some of Power to Change successes over the last year, the first being a record breaker for our funding! From July to September 2020, we awarded 503 grants at a total value of £11.1m – more than we have ever delivered in any previous quarter.
In fact, we delivered more grants between April and September 2020 than we did in a two–year period from January 2018, showing the scale of the response we have delivered since lockdown was announced in March.
Emergency support for community businesses to navigate through the changing landscape
We take pride in being an agile and flexible funder, but Covid-19 forced us to work at a pace faster than we have ever experienced before. On 16 March, the UK wide lockdown was announced and just a few weeks later, we received board approval for our emergency response budget. By the end of April we announced our £12m emergency support package and just a month later, we made our first award to an applicant through our Covid-19 Emergency Trading Income Support Scheme. In total, we awarded £6.6m in grants to 332 organisations, including our Community Business Fund grantees, providing them with a vital injection of income to cope with the immediate effects of Covid-19.
In mid-July, we launched the Covid-19 Community-Led Organisations Recovery Scheme with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. Together with our partners, Cooperatives UK, Locality, Plunkett Foundation and Social Investment Business (SIB) we supported 302 organisations, of which 200+ were led by, or supporting people who are BAME*, with £9.4m through grants ranging from £4,.4000k to £100,000k.
As we paused our normal funding programmes to concentrate on our emergency response, we also launched a couple of small grants programmes to help community businesses diversify. The first was for community pubs, focusing on those providing food and meals for their community, often involving setting up online and delivery services run by volunteers. With our partners, Plunkett Foundation, we issued more than 50 grants and provided quick and agile adviser support online to help community pubs to navigate all the new financial issues arising, such as furlough, VAT, income support and social distancing.
Another of our emergency small grants programmes was available for Community Business Bright Ideas grantees, and this year we supported 37 organisations with £164k grant funding and capacity support, to help grantees to help mitigate the effects of, or adapt to, Covid-19.
As the community business sector evolved, finding new and innovative ways to continue delivering services and products to their communities, we looked at how we could best support the sector. We developed a support package to help community businesses to rebuild and recover. Our £5m The Community Business Renewal Initiative includes grant funding, match funding, a tailored support package designed to offer specialist support to community business leaders, advice and guidance on asset protection and a Mutual Aid group to connect members of the sector.
In our next blog we’ll be sharing the impact of our planned funding programmes, despite the pandemic.