Briefing 15 front cover - show us you trust us

Show us you trust us

Briefing 15 on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during the Covid-19 crisis.

This fifteenth briefing shares the experiences of 34 leaders and senior staff participating in our online peer support sessions between 22nd January and 26th February 2021. The report covers our reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.

This was written in March 2021 as we approached the anniversary of the first national lockdown, charity leaders had been reflecting on the challenges and opportunities that the pandemic brought, the lessons they learned, and the implications for new ways of working that blended remote and face-to-face activity.

Three concerns stood out as front of mind for VCSE leaders:

  1. Transitioning to the ‘new normal’ ‘We’re at a turning point. The impacts of Covid are quite severe for us at the moment.’ 
  2. Managing emotions –  ‘I think we’re all unaware of how much the last 10 months has affected us personally. And when you’re trying to run an organisation based on relational working and that disappears, that’s really hard.’
  3. Juggling demand, funding and resources – ‘We’re all passionate about the work we do and we’re all aware of the scale of need. At the same time, resources are becoming scarcer and we all want to do more.’

Attendees explored the support that funders could provide through: supportive funding structures; collaborative working; and certainty beyond March.

Three stand-out messages for funders:

  1. Trust and patience – These remain at the heart of the response needed from funders, with collaborative approaches to setting priorities and designing processes allowing for funding to be attuned to current unpredictability and uncertainty.
  2. Learning – As we move into a time of recovery and renewal, it remains a critical time for learning to support the frontline, sustain valued services and create spaces for regrouping as the long-term impact of the pandemic becomes clearer.
  3. Unrestricted funding – In this context, unrestricted funding is the most useful and important contribution that funders can make to the work of VCSE organisations.

What next?

You can read more about how other funders are working towards more open and trusting grant-making, and join our community of practice, at

Share the Leading in Uncertainty online peer support session dates with charity leaders, more details here:

Read the full series of Covid-19 briefings here.


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