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briefing paper

Towards more flexible funding

Practical ideas from open and trusting grantmakers

June 2021

Eliza Buckley, Liz Firth, Keeva Rooney


In February 2021, IVAR issued a call for funders to adopt more open and trusting practices that make life easier for those they fund by adopting eight commitments:

  1. Don’t waste time

  2. Ask relevant questions

  3. Accept risk

  4. Act with urgency

  5. Be open

  6. Enable flexibility

  7. Communicate with purpose

  8. Be proportionate

74 funders have now signed up to becoming open and trusting grantmakers, joining a community of flexible funders.

This briefing shares reflections and ideas for action from the first round of Community of Practice meetings held in April and May 2021. In a safe and facilitated space, 32 foundations came together to share their experiences, challenges, and questions about how best to bring the eight commitments to life in their practice. Our focus at this first meeting was commitment six: enabling flexibility. Funders signed up to enable the organisation they support to respond flexibly to changing priorities and needs by giving unrestricted funding; where they could not (or are a specialist funder), they promised to make their funding as flexible as possible. 

Conversations roamed widely across the opportunities and challenges of becoming more flexible funders, exploring questions of definition; managing funders’ own constraints; working in uncertainty; trust and risk; and thinking about impact.


(Towards more flexible funding - IVAR June 2021 - Final)

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