In 2020 our society had to respond to the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. We created the Covid-19 Emergency Fund and the Rapid Response Fund, adapting our funding methods to allow the grants to be paid quickly when they were most needed. We adapted to enable Edge to continue to carry out its objectives whilst working remotely. In 2020 and 2021 we continue our work strengthening our internal organisation, making the decision to work with an external facilitor to carry out an internal review in March 2021. At the end of the financial year the society made the decision to work with Pastel to overhaul and improve the website.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31ST JANUARY 2021
The committee members submit their annual report and the financial statements for the year ended 31st January 2021.
Making grants to grassroots social change projects.
Developing and promoting new models of democratic grant making.
Bringing people of different backgrounds together to learn about each other’s issues and support each other’s work.
REVIEW FOR THE YEAR ENDED 31ST JANUARY 2021
In 2020 our society had to respond to the challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic. We created the Covid-19 Emergency Fund and the Rapid Response Fund, adapting our funding methods to allow the grants to be paid quickly when they were most needed. We adapted to enable the society to continue to carry out its objectives whilst working remotely. In 2020 and 2021 we continue our work strengthening our internal organisation, making the decision to work with an external facilitor to carry out an internal review in March 2021. At the end of the financial year the society made the decision to work with Pastel to overhaul and improve the website.
The COVID-19 Emergency Fund (Funding Round 11) was opened in response to the pandemic and as an alternative to our regular funding rounds. We recognised the need to adapt our usual funding method in a number of ways. Chiefly, the grants needed to go out quickly, and the scoring needed to take place remotely. It had quickly become clear that groups who ordinarily do systemic change work would be in need of money to cover the cost of unexpected outgoings. This meant that our scoring criteria had to change accordingly. In particular, groups were forced to move much of their work online, and so access to the internet and other technological provisions became more necessary than ever. We agreed to give out 20 grants of £500 each.
In order to get the grants out fast, we agreed that it would be a good idea to fund only previously funded groups. This would reduce the time needed to go through applications, as we would not need to check eligibility to the same degree. It also reduced the overall number of applications, although we still received more than we could fund (34 in total). Members were invited to score remotely, but instead of a funding day to follow, scorers met virtually to agree upon the final 20 groups. By giving out a set figure of £500 to all groups, we were once again able to increase the speed with which we could decide on the grantees.
In spite of the changes made, we stuck to our core value of funding being participatory, although the spirit of being in the room together on a funding day was missed.
The list below gives an idea of the areas focused on, but is not exhaustive, as many of the groups include diverse ranges of people that might face oppression in intersecting ways. Of the groups funded, there were:
7 focused more generally on systemic change work (e.g. work challenging police brutality, work on environmental justice)
5 focused on anti-racist work
6 led by migrants
4 led by low-income and working class people
3 led by disabled people/people with health issues 2 led by LGBTQIA+ people
1 led by Gypsy, Roma or Traveller People
We opened the Rapid Response Fund (Funding Round 12) at the end of July 2020. Following the funding round earlier in the year, we recognised the importance of getting grants out to a wider range of groups. The fund was open to groups who had been funded before and new applicants. We encouraged groups to apply who would normally be doing systemic change work, even if the pandemic was still changing the nature of their work for the time being.
We offered successful groups grants of £750 each. We had 109 applications, of which 30 were selected to be funded. Of these 32 groups, 16 were grants were ring-fenced for groups doing anti-racist work. 10 of these were groups led by Afrikan/Black people.
The scoring and funding process took place remotely once more, as we were still unable to meet safely due to the pandemic. We did not have a funding day, but members came together online to decide which of the shortlisted groups would receive funding.
An overview of the areas of focus for these groups’ work is below:
16 focused on anti-racist work
10 focused on systemic change work (e.g. work challenging police brutality, or work on environmental justice)
10 led by Afrikan/Black people and their liberation
5 led by low income and working class people
5 led by migrants
3 led by LGBTQIA+ people
2 led by disabled people/people with health issues
2 led by sex workers
2 led by Gypsy, Roma or Traveller people
For more information on what any group from either round does, please see the
fuller list of our previously funded groups.
Towards the end of 2020, we became aware of the need to focus on some of our internal systems, including accountability, decision-making, power dynamics within a non-hierarchical structure, staff support and more. We decided to work with an external facilitator with experience guiding this kind of ‘internal review’, and to move forward with creating a better environment for all who are engaged with Edge Fund. This led us to work with Shan Stephens from Tripod from March 2021 onwards. Within Edge, the work would later be led by an Internal Development working group.
In the early stages, we asked the membership if they would like to be involved with this process, and if so in what ways/to what extent. We also held a Zoom call to discuss some of the practical steps for carrying out the work.
A summary of the main changes and developments that have been taken forward through this work is given in the table below. Our aim is for these processes to continue to develop and improve over time, and they will be reviewed by the Staff and Facilitating Group (FG) at least once a year to make sure they stay up-to-date and are fit for purpose.
|What we heard from members and staff||What we’ve done|
|It’s hard to know how to get more involved with Edge Fund, especially when people first join||
|Low awareness and understanding about Community Communities (CC) and Working Groups (WG): What are they, how do they work, how could I join?||
|Upskilling and sharing learning is important as well as funding||
Proposal to make a budget, and process for making spending decisions, available to all working groups
(If this proposal is accepted we’ll work with members to design how it functions. For example, budget-setting could become a standing item at each year’s AGM)
|Low awareness and understanding about how the Facilitating Group works: the need for more transparency, support and accountability||
|The need for better support and accountability for staff. The need for Edge Fund to live its values as an employer as well as a funder.||
A number of Edge members had felt that our website was long overdue an overhaul, to make it more user-friendly and compelling to view. Towards the end of 2020, we decided to look into outsourcing this work to web developers who would understand Edge’s mission and ethos. After meeting with some different organisations, we decided to work with Pastel. Usayd, one of its lead members, had been part of a group that had previously received Edge funding and had a good insight into what we are about.
It’s looking pretty good so far, but we’re still waiting on some illustrations from a fantastic artist, so will wait until that point before the big ‘reveal’.
The pandemic meant that most of the events which members planned to attend did not happen, such as the EDGE Funders Alliance Global Engagement Lab (GEL) and the Ariadne Annual Policy Briefing. However, member Isis Amlak was made an Advisor to the GEL, which has many funder representatives from across the world attending. Members of the group had a dialogue with a private foundation which led to a grant to the Edge Fund of £10,000, as they wished to support more ‘grassroots’ groups. We also succeeded in receiving a small donation through the Charities Aid Foundation, something we were not previously sure was possible. Parts of the influencing work that we have envisaged for this group have been taken over by the Participatory Grantmakers Community, which has grown to over 500 members. They run regular events and peer learning meetings, all online, for funders who are funding in participatory ways or want to move towards having grant decisions made by those with lived experience. Member Rose Longhurst profiled the Edge Fund’s unique process at one of their monthly meetings recently.
Other funders that have reached out to connect with Edge’s Influencing Funders group in the past year include the LEAP collective (new German initiative), FemFund (Polish feminist fund) and Camden Giving.
Ex-Edge Fund Regional Organiser Natasha Mumbi Nkonde took on a consultancy programme about social movements last year with the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, which has led on to her being employed by the Trust – another opportunity for us to influence other grantmakers in the UK.
OUTREACH AND EVENTS
Our 2020 AGM took place on Saturday 25th July. With COVID-19 as the backdrop, we had to run our event virtually, but as with many other cases in the last year this somewhat increased accessibility and the scope of who could join. The event was interpreted by two excellent BSL interpreters, Pam Jones and Tony Redshaw. We also welcomed some entertainment to make the day that bit more special, with poetry from spoken word artist Nat Nye and musician Xana. During the event we made use of Zoom to hold breakout rooms, where we asked members about their experience during the pandemic, the nature of our grant sizes and the ways in which people feel they could better access Edge Fund. A short summary of these discussions can be found here.
STAFF, MEMBERSHIP AND THE FACILITATING GROUP Staff Changes
Andy leaving, Hannah hired
In March 2020 we said goodbye to Andy Nesbitt, who had been Regional Organiser for Northern England, Ireland and Scotland from Sept 2018. Andy left Edge to work for ACORN Manchester, a community union. Following Andy’s departure, the role was taken by Hannah Ross, a Manchester-based activist with particular experience in disability and community activism who is from the North West originally.
In November 2020, Melissa Cespedes del Sur left us in her post as Regional Organiser for the South and Wales. She has gone on to begin pursuing a university course in Law.
Facilitating Group changes
There have been some changes to the FG membership, with Aderonke Apata and Isis Amlak leaving, and Kamna Muralidharan joining in early 2020. We thank Isis and Aderonke for all their work and contributions as FG members, and are happy to welcome Kamna and the experience she brings on grant-making and racial justice work. For more information about current FG members, please visit Edge Fund’s website.
GOVERNANCE AND THE COMMITTEE
Committee members are drawn from a wide background and are selected to ensure they bring relevant experience, skills, diversity and understanding to the discussions and decision making process of the committee. The committee meets formally on a regular basis to review the activities and the finances of the society and to ensure its effective management and governance.
In the financial year to 31st January 2021 Isis Amlak continued to act as chairperson throughout the financial year and to the date of this report. Patrick Boase continued to act as treasurer throughout the financial year and to the date of this report. Louise Foreman continued to act as secretary throughout the financial year and to the date of this report. Mark Brown and Rakesh Prashara continued to act as members of the committee of management. Kamna Muralidharan joined the committee of management.
The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the society’s rules adopted upon incorporation and in accordance with applicable law and regulations. The committee members are satisfied that the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the society and of its surplus or deficit at the period end.
In preparing the financial statements the members are required to:
- select suitable accounting policies and then apply them consistently
- make judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent
- state whether the policies adopted are in accordance with the appropriate SORP on Accounting Regulations and with applicable accounting standards, subject to any material departures disclosed and explained in the financial statements; and assume that the society will continue in business.
The members of the committee are responsible for keeping proper accounting records which disclose, with reasonable accuracy at any time, the financial position of the society and enable them to ensure that the financial statements comply with the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. They are responsible for safeguarding the assets of the society and hence for taking responsible steps for the prevention and detection of fraud or other irregularities.
The society is limited by share capital. The liability of each member (402 in total) in the event of winding-up is limited to £1.
The society’s policy on reserves is to keep £80000 to £100000 as a reserve fund which is sufficient to cover one funding round and the society’s management and administration expenses for a minimum period of six months.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The annual general meeting was held and the accounts approved on Saturday 7th August 2021.
You can find a PDF of the annual accounts here.