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Place-based funding

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Place-based approaches:

We use the term to mean targeted investment in defined geographic areas. This is usually a package of support – for example: multiple grants; particularly large investments; grants and additional funding plus activity (capacity building, networking, influencing activity) – within a defined place.

Place-based approaches have grown in popularity in recent years as funders have begun to recognise their potential for providing a more holistic approach to complex problems, as well as engaged in wider debates about the role of their funding in light of shifts in policy and the economy. 


Here, you will find research reports, case studies and our place-based funding framework – all aimed at helping independent funders, public funders and their partners to understand the why, what and how of place-based working. 

New research


Working in Place: Collaborative funding in practice

Eliza Buckley, Ben Cairns, Marilyn Taylor, Katie Turner

Responding to recent shifts in policy and the economy, some public and independent funders are working together on a range of issues from mental health crisis-care to school exclusion. This report collates learning from five such partnerships, with praise for collaborative champions who can ‘leave their organisation at the door’ and other advice for cross-sector working.


Arrive gently. Engage patiently. Stay awhile. 

We’ve learned that spending time listening first, building trust, and making a commitment for the long term are approaches that help place-based collaborations succeed.’


Carolyn Sawers, Corra Foundation

Case studies

The framework

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Page source

This page and the Working in Place publications are based on:

  • A literature review of place-based approaches in the UK 
  • Interviews with 50+ staff, trustees and partners at 21 UK trusts and foundations
  • Share & Build sessions with 70+ representatives of trusts, foundations and statutory funders at events organised with: ACF and ACF Northern Ireland; the Scottish Funder Forum; Yorkshire Grant Makers Forum; Wales Funder Forum; and London Funders.

Place based funding


Developing a framework for action

In 2015, we undertook a study of place-based approaches. The research aimed to shed light on the place-based approaches used by UK trusts and foundations and identify learning about the pitfalls and successes of these approaches. Out of this, and other work around place, we have developed a framework for place-based approaches to support funders in their planning and implementation.

Place based funding


Who is it for?


Staff and trustees at charitable trusts and foundations who have responsibility for making strategic decisions about funding approaches or who are leading the delivery of a place-based programme. Community foundations and local funders may also find the framework useful.

Place based funding


What is it for?


The framework is simply a way of organising a conversation when planning or reviewing place-based work in order to: 


  • Help surface assumptions and different opinions when working with multiple partners

  • Provide a structure or checklist for use when planning an approach or reflecting on progress

  • Support the sharing of thinking and improving transparency


The purpose is not to identify good or bad practice but rather to provide a prompt for discussions, helping funders to consider key questions about place-based approaches

Front cover image for Working in Place

Research reports:

Working in Place

Eliza Buckley, Ben Cairns, Marilyn Taylor

Download the full, detailed framework for place-based approaches that includes practice examples and funder quotes.

Place-based funding framework.

Front cover image for working in place framework summary


Working in Place: Framework summary

Eliza Buckley, Marilyn Taylor, Ben Cairns

This short, practical framework can be used to support thinking and discussion around funding in place.


Working in Place Framework

A two-page printable edition of the Working in Place Framework.

Case studies (phase 1)

Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland 

Area focus

Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland have developed a new asset-based empowerment model to support nine communities in Scotland, which have not previously received funding from independent foundations. 


Based on interviews and discussion with staff at Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland and partners involved in the programme.

Documents reviewed

Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland (2015) Briefing paper: Place-based July 2015


Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland decided to pilot a place-based funding approach as one of their three strategic objectives. They undertook an analysis of where they had previously funded and, in the process, identified some ‘cold spots’. 

Download the case study

The Rank Foundation – Place-based programme in Dundee

Area focus

The Rank Foundations place-based programme runs alongside responsive grant making. This approach used in five places over the last decade. Each time the approach evolves/develop. Consistent features include grants to local projects plus some capacity building and convening activity.


Based on interviews with Rank Foundation staff and trustees, the local coordinator in Dundee and a review of programme documents/materials.


Learning so far


  • Works best in areas that have some existing capacity
  • Requires commitment and realism about what the eventual contribution might be
  • Valuable to have a coordinator who is local, well networked and respected
  • Fine balance between being directive/setting conditions and allowing groups to engage as suits them

Download the case study

Hackney Giving – Placed-based working in east London

Area focus

Hackney Giving provides grants to small, grassroots projects that directly benefit the residents of Hackney in relation to employment and training, or health and wellbeing.

Local leads

Hackney CVS and the East End Community Foundation (ECCF), with a range of other partners on the steering group.


  • Interviews with staff and trustees at Hackney CVS and East End Community Foundation
  • A review of relevant documents (i.e. Hackney Giving Annual Report 2014) 

Learning so far

  • The importance of shared values 
  • Balancing community needs with the values underpinning the fund 
  • To learn more about how other funders are sourcing funds to support their sustainability. 



Download the case study

Building Change Trust – Supporting local infrastructure N.Ireland

Area focus

The Building Change Trust was established by the Big Lottery Fund with a National Lottery grant of £10million as an investment for community capacity building and promotion of the voluntary and community sector in Northern Ireland.


Based on interviews with staff and trustees at Building Change Trust, Big Lottery Fund NI and NICVA, as well as review of Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland and East Ayrshire Council, as well as a review of evaluation reports on the initiative.

Learning so far

  • Setting up the endowment
  • Balancing quick wins and longer term strategic development
  • Building relationships and working collaboratively

Download the case study

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