The certainty of uncertainty

Briefing 11 on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during the Covid-19 crisis

This eleventh briefing shares the experiences of 44 leaders participating in online peer support sessions in September 2020, and our reflections on the questions and opportunities for funders that they raise.

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

  1. Risk management: ‘I haven’t been managing a charity, I’ve been managing risk. It’s about Covid-19 risk management full stop’.
  2. Balancing the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face vs online: ‘When we shared an office, people could say “I’ve got so much on” and someone else would help … that doesn’t happen now.’
  3. Planning in uncertainty: ‘Every time you plan, it then changes – constantly. So, it takes up a lot of mental capacity and it is really frustrating.’

The stand-out messages for funders:

  1. Adopt realistic, fair and transparent application deadlines.
  2. Set realistic expectations about what can be delivered in the current context, as well as the associated costs.
  3. Provide longer-term, non-emergency grants, as well as more proportionate application processes for shorter-term funding.
  4. Adopt processes, practices and funding structures that align with principles of trust-based grant-making (e.g. unrestricted funding).
  5. Standardise reporting practices to reduce the burden of reporting.
  6. Recognise, and take account of, the diversity of the sector.
  7. Provide reassurance about the mid to long-term funding strategies that will help protect the sustainability of the VCSE sector in the future.

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.


You may also be interested in:

Complicated and messy

Briefing 12 on the challenges faced by VCSE leaders during the Covid-19 crisis

Read more Publication
Birds in a hurricane

Voluntary sector adaptation and resilience through and beyond Covid-19

Read more Publication
Leading in Uncertainty

Online peer support sessions for charity leaders.

Read more Web page
whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London