Steadfast endurance

Briefing 13 on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during the Covid-19 crisis

This thirteenth briefing shares the experiences of 23 leaders participating in online peer support sessions between 11th and 30th November 2020, and reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.

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

  1. The limitations of online: ‘We’re an organisation that’s based on human relationships, warmth and layers of communication that don’t happen remotely but face-to-face. Everyone has English as a second language, so phone calls are more difficult.’
  2. Sustaining their teams: ‘I’m finding it emotional. We’re not machines.’
  3. Thinking about ‘what next’: ‘At our board away day the focus was deliberately to not think about the here and now, but to focus on the future. Everyone found that very refreshing.’

Three stand-out messages for funders:

  1. Long-term, unrestricted funding has never been more vital: ‘I’m saying to funders: “the numbers are down but this is what we have done for these particular clients”; and they’ve focused on quality, not numbers.
  2. ‘We are not machines’: ‘You somehow have to prove that you are desperate enough for the money but also that you’re still functioning and you’re not a liability’.
  3. The VCSE sector needs champions: ‘When people lose their jobs, have poor mental health, people will come to us, but we may not be able to support them if we are not supported. The sector is in trouble.’

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 peer support session dates with VCSE leaders, more details here: 

Read the full series of Covid-19 briefings here.


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