Covid-19: How funders can ease reporting requirements

Funders across the UK are busy adapting their processes to better support their grantees and the wider sector in the face of the spread and emerging impact of the coronavirus. Many are changing their reporting requirements to help relieve one important source of worry and pressure. 

Over the last year, IVAR and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation have convened a group of foundations and funded organisations to develop six new principles for better grant reporting – with the aim of making reporting more meaningful, mutually beneficial and less time-consuming. We asked the funders in this group to share the immediate action they are taking to lighten the reporting load on grantees and be truly responsive. We found five main approaches that may be of help to others:

  1. Making radical changes: We are not expecting grantees to hold to agreed reporting requirements. They can discuss this with their grants manager, along with any agreement to extend timetables for work, change objectives or payment schedules, and to convert programme grants into core and operating costs. Paul Hamlyn Foundation.
  2. Being flexible on change; supporting you and your teams through this and getting back on track later: We have said we don’t want grantees to worry about deadlines and reporting and have told them, for example, that they can record changes they make to their project and we can reconcile it all later. National Lottery Community Fund.
  3. Simplifying or delaying: Grantees with upcoming annual reports can discuss with their grant manager whether a delay to the submission of that report, or the completion of a simplified form now, would be most appropriate. The FAQs document on our website is drawn from the queries we have received from grantees and will be updated weekly. Comic Relief.
  4. Intelligence gathering: We will continue to read everything funded organisations submit and will learn from it to shape our work across London and to understand how we can best work with and support the organisations we fund. We have included a section on Covid-19 in the impact and learning report to help flag any particular needs to us. For more details on City Bridge Trust’s approach, see hereCity Bridge Trust.
  5. Keeping in touch: We are keen to be as flexible as possible. In order to do so, communication from our grantees is crucial. We’re adapting our response as new issues emerge, such as delivery being suspended or staff being furloughed. Challenges like these allow grantees to get a better understanding of their situation; providing us with this intelligence allows us to evolve with them. John Lyon’s Charity.

IVAR is in regular contact with a group of over 100 frontline organisations and future blogs will share their views on easing the reporting burden – and other actions funders might consider – throughout this crisis and into recovery.

The principles for Better Reporting aim to translate commitments to lightness of touch into action for the longer term. In particular, Principle 4 – Funders only ask for information they need and use – captures the importance of funded organisations being able to focus on what really matters to the people and communities they serve. 

When funders reach the point where attention begins to turn to ‘what next’ and to reflect on adaptations to practice on the basis of changes they have made during this emergency, we will be ready to share more about these principles and how participating funders are putting them into practice. That moment will come, however far off it feels right now. 

If you would like more information about the Better Reporting Principles, or to be notified of the formal launch date, please contact 

The following funders and funded organisations are part of the movement for better reporting: 

The Barbican, City Bridge Trust, Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Hull Community Church, The Institute for Voluntary Action Research, John Lyon’s Charity, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, The National Lottery Community Fund, Refugee Action, Older Citizens Advocacy York, One25, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Pears Foundation, ThamesReach and The Tudor Trust.

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