Our second financial year began with a review of our first year as a fully operating fund. As a young organisation committed to trying new approaches that fully live up to our values around justice and equity, we feel it’s important to take time to step back and see how we’re doing and to constantly evolve. The review process meant we only had one funding round during the year but it was far from a quiet year.
Year ending 31 January 2015
Review of year one
The review process involved meetings with members in London, Manchester and Leicester. Our Facilitating Group, a group of around 6-8 members, worked hard behind the scenes to identify processes or concerns that needed attention and to prepare proposals for discussion at members’ meetings. The review process came to an end in June, with a meeting in Leicester, followed by an outreach event featuring local music and spoken word performances. The review resulted in the Working Groups (communications, fundraising, sharing, welcome, influencing funders) having a clear remit and budget for the year ahead, as well as changes to the membership and funding application processes as well as other changes. The outcome of the review can be seen on our website.
In our fourth funding round we received 330 applications, we were able to offer funds to around 10% of these requests. We have now donated a total of £165,000 to 113 groups. A full list of our grants is available on our website.
Our aim is to be funded by many people giving what they can as monthly donations. This is in keeping with our grassroots approach. We have just under one hundred regular donors and still rely very much on one-off donations of larger amounts. Just before the end of the year we received a donation of £80,000 which has given us some much needed security to plan for the future.
During the year we organised several events. In September we held our first Introduction to Edge event, for people interested in becoming members. Our Sharing Group put a lot of work into designing and organising our first Forum for Radical Sharing, an event designed to bring a diverse range of groups together to learn about each other’s work and to share skills, tactics and resources, which took place in Manchester in November. In December we had the final funding day of Round 4, where applicants and members come together to decide on how the funds are shared out amongst the short-listed groups. At the end of the year our Fundraising Group organised our Get Behind the Grassroots crowdfund and fundraising event (which raised nearly £6,000). We also took part in other events. For example, we gave a presentation at the Why Charity? The Politics and Ethics of Charity at Brighton University and took part in the launch of Funders for a Just Transition, a European funders initiative.
This year we also continued our work to spread the word about Edge Fund and our approach to funding. This included articles published with New Left Project, Guardian, GrantCraft, OpenDemocracy and Strike magazine. Links to these articles can be found on our website. We also produced a short video to give more insight into Edge and how we operate.
One of our main aims is to promote the use of transparent, accountable and democratic processes, particularly within grant-making. Part of this is working hard to ensure our process works as that’s an important part of convincing others to use a similar approach. Our Influencing Funders group is our most active Working Group and works to reach other funders. We often receive enquiries from other funders keen to learn from our process and during the year met Tudor Trust, Lankelly Chase Foundation, Esmee Fairbairn, Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer, Forward Foundation, Young Foundation and Biscuit Fund. In October 2014 New Philanthropy Capital named Edge Fund as one of ten innovators in global philanthropy . We were also nominated for a Beacon Award for Philanthropy, under the Outstanding Partnership between a Philanthropist and a Charity category.
Members & staff
During the year we asked all our members to take part in a survey so we could get a better understanding of the make-up of the membership, people’s interests and needs. We shared this information on our website. One of the main reasons for the survey was to allow us to address gaps in terms of representation of different identities and communities. We received over fifty membership requests over the year, requiring us to spend more time on how to deal with these requests. As a member-run organisation, new members could have an impact on our values and direction so this needs careful thought. Unfortunately, this became a drawn out process, resulting in few new members joining this year.
In August one of our members was involved in an emergency situation and called on our help. We took a collective decision to use £2,000 of our funds to get her out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she was being held against her will by her family, who wanted to ‘fix’ her sexuality (more info).
Throughout the year we had one paid member of staff, a co-ordinator, paid for 3 days per week. During this year we began discussions about what staffing we needed to cope with the workload and to help us achieve our aims.
|Summary of finances – 1 Feb 2014 – 31 Jan 2015|
|Grants paid out||£56,377|