I have just done something rather unusual for a charity. I have turned down the offer of a £23,766 grant.
Why would I do that? Firstly because the grant awarding body was not prepared to pay the cost of the work required. Secondly because they would not contribute to our corporate overheads (Full Cost Recovery). Thirdly because the contractual conditions were such as to expose a small charity to unacceptable risk.
For months now we have been working in partnership with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and The Wild Trout Trust to develop a bid to the Water Environment Grant (I won’t link there because you really do not want to know about it!). We have spent days, probably weeks, working out the finest detail of the scheme in order to satisfy the somewhat onerous requirements of the submission. Anyone familiar with the Rural PaymentsAgency (who ultimately ‘own’ this fund), or who has heard tales from farmers of the inefficiency, nitpicking and intransigence of RPA, may know how difficult a process it has been. Anyway, we put together our partnership project valued at ca. £170,000 and sent it off. Detailed queries were responded to and we waited, then waited, then waited some more. Indeed, we waited over three months after the decisions were expected and were delighted when we got an offer. Until we opened the letter that is, when we found that we had been offered only £100,000 between us. One partner, us, were offered only 35% of our bid with a requirement to deliver 75% of the required outputs!
To say that I am outraged, annoyed and frustrated is being polite. VERY polite!
So why am I upset?
Part, £250, of our bid was rejected because we did not have competitive quotations for refreshments for volunteers.
Part, £8,500, was intended to provide for social media and other advertising, promotion to aid volunteer recruitment and recognise the contribution of the funder. ZIP. We don’t need to do this apparently ,even though volunteers were core to our bid and they WERE prepared to pay for brand development (but where would we then use the brand?)!
Some of the contractual terms were outrageous:
- You will accept unlimited liability in perpetuity for your work
- If we run out of money we do not have to pay you
- You must do exactly what you said you would and any variation, even in an emergency, needs approval in advance.
Would you accept such an offer? Do these people have any understanding of the impact of their decisions on small charities? Who hold them to account for the consequences of their action?
I would like to pay tribute to the several colleagues in YWT, WTT and the EA who helped us through a challenging time. I won’t name them because this is my rant not theirs, they know who they are and they know how much I value their help.
The only upside – we now have some well developed projects in respect of which we can apply for funding elsewhere.