Keeva, Emily and Natalie - IVAR staff.

About The Funding Experience Survey: 100 grantmakers are listening

This week, we’ve launched The Funding Experience Survey, to explore how we can reduce the wasted time, effort and stress of fundraising and funding relationships.  

It’s the first step towards holding our community of over 100 Open and Trusting grantmakers to account for their commitments to making and managing grants in a way that reflects their confidence in the organisations they fund. We’re hoping to hear from over 1,000 charities about what changes funders could make, and which of these matters most.  

What is the survey based on?  

We wanted The Funding Experience Survey to take as little time as possible for charities, and to make active use of the feedback people give. We felt it was important to make use of all the information that funders have already shared about what they are doing to become more open and trusting – so, we started by reviewing tangible actions that funders were taking, or hoping to take, when they signed up to the eight Open & Trusting commitments, as well as others they have shared during Community of Practice sessions, individual blogs and participation in focused research projects with charities on unrestricted funding and application and assessment processes.  

Here are a few examples of what funders say they are doing to be open and trusting:  

  • We publish a Word version of our online application form so that people can see the whole picture easily and get their answers ready 
  • You can call us or sign up for a grant surgery for 1:1 advice about your application 
  • We have stopped setting tight word or character limits in our online forms because organisations tell us they have to spend a lot of time editing what they write rather than concentrating on what they want to tell us 
  • We have stopped asking questions about how organisations will sustain the work when our funding ends  
  • We aim for a 6 week turnaround on smaller grants  
  • We have found that giving more conscious attention to equity is a powerful tool in highlighting unrecognised behaviours and assumptions and changing them. Using a strong equity and inclusion lens in our decision panel, we realised that we were setting a higher bar for newer or smaller organisations 
  • We have more conversations with organisations receiving large and longer-term grants but keep our formal reporting as light as possible for everyone  

We used these tangible actions to inform the design of survey, which tests the extent to which charities experience open and trusting behaviours, and what matters most.  

What difference will my response make? 

You have the opportunity to influence how over £800 million of UK grant-making is made and managed. Our 100 Open and Trusting Grantmakers are listening, and have committed to using the results of the survey to adapt and improve what they do.  

‘This is a watershed moment for UK funding: over 100 grantmakers are committed to listening to applicants, and adapting how they work to reduce the wasted time, effort and stress of fundraising and funding relationships. We want to hear from at least 1,000 charities about what matters most to them, so that we can work with funders to change their practices and behaviours.’

Ben Cairns, Director of IVAR

Ben Cairns

‘The Funding Experience Survey – and Open and Trusting Initiative – are really valuable because they give charities a voice within the funding relationship, to speak about things that may feel difficult or sensitive but address how these relationships work.’

Emma Kendall, Development Manager at Clean Break

‘As funders our job is to support charities so that they can do what they do best. It’s important that we listen to charities, respond to feedback and adapt the way we work so that we can meet the needs of the charities we exist to serve. That’s one of the reasons why we signed up to IVAR’s Open and Trusting initiative and will be reviewing the responses to this survey to see where we can learn and improve.’

Harriet Stranks, Director of Grants at Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales

Harriet Stranks of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales.

What will you do with the findings?  

The survey, which takes 10-15 minutes to complete, will be open until 10th June and the results will be published in September. We will use our findings to guide Open and Trusting Grantmakers to review their practices and behaviours. We’ll also be recruiting, training and resourcing charity professionals to facilitate discussions for our grantmakers, and to use the survey findings to push grantmakers to consider how they can go further for applicants and grantees. All this is leading into the second anniversary of our Open and Trusting initiative, in February 2023, when our funders will publicly refresh their commitments.   

Complete the survey now, or use our comms pack to share it with your colleagues and networks.

If you have any questions about the Funding Experience Survey or open and trusting grant-making initiative, please contact Keeva on and Natalie on

You may also be interested in:

Open and trusting grant-making

Join a community of funders adopting more open and trusting practices that make life easier for those they fund.

Read more Web page
The funding experience survey
Read more   Publication
Applications and assessments
Read more Web page
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