Grants a valuable part of ‘mixed economy’ of charity funding - Minister

Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson has stressed grants can be a valuable part of the charity funding mix, while arguing for a “mixed economy” of funding streams for the sector.

In an address to the Charity Times Annual Conference last week, Wilson said grants, fundraising, social investment, and public sector contracts will all play an important part in funding the sector’s work.

“Contrary to recent inaccurate and incorrect claims, I believe that grants provide a valuable source of finance in the right circumstances,” the Minister said. “But no organisation, as I’ve said many times before, should be reliant on a single grant. So we’re helping the sector to explore new options.”

Wilson said the Government is providing global leadership on the growth of the social investment market, in particular social impact bonds.

The Government wants to see the sector become more “capable, resilient, self-confident, and independent”, he said.

“Where we do fund, I want Government to be one partner amongst at least several. Social investment lies at the heart of realising this ambition.”

Making it easier for charities and social enterprises to play a greater role in delivering public services is also an aim of the Government’s, the Minister said, and social impact bonds have a role to play.

The Minister said SIBs allow the focus to be on desired outcomes, allowing voluntary organisations to deliver meaningful interventions.

Measures to boost outcomes-focused commissioning include the £80m Life Chances Fund announced in January to provide a top up to pay for outcomes that generate savings for central government, and establishing the Government Outcomes Lab in partnership with the Blavatnik School of Government.

The Minister also highlighted the contribution of the Big Lottery Fund, funding around 12,000 voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations each year. Further, the Dormant Assets Commission is seeking to unlock around £1bn in funding for good causes.

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