Blog: Exploring funder collaboration in Scotland

Published:20th September 2013

Tom Scott – Training Officer at Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS), our Inspiring Impact partner in Scotland – shares learning from the latest Funder Impact event, which brought funders together to discuss ‘collaborative funding’.

One of the themes of the Inspiring Impact programme is examining the role of funders in making high quality impact measurement the norm. The Funders’ Principles and Drivers of Good Impact Practice published in June highlighted how critical funders can be in shaping behaviour around impact practice. Funders are a diverse bunch though, so what might this mean in reality?

A group of Scottish funders came together at an event on the 10 September to discuss just that. Looking at the benefits and pitfalls of collaborative funding as well as shared measurement and funders evaluating together, it was an interesting session.

Creative Scotland and Age Scotland shared how they came together to deliver Luminate: Scotland’s creative ageing festival. A key stage in their process was the joint running of a Creative Aging Day which allowed the project partners to experience collaboration on a small scale first through setting shared outcomes, joint planning and co-delivery. This links closely to the themes of ‘look before you leap’ and ‘go in with your eyes open’, which came up several times during the day.

The findings of the event could really be summed up by two phrases: ‘collaborative funding is worth doing’ and ‘it is not easy!’ Some other learning points included:

• Be absolutely clear about partnership responsibilities – spend time producing a memorandum of understanding

• Build in lots of ‘lead-in’ time – aligning timescales, reconciling different approaches to grant making and looking beneath a good working relationship to get to the practicalities all take a great deal of time

• Consider having an independent chair – this can be very useful and independent board members can also help the collaborative process

The participants felt that there was a leadership role in facilitating thinking differently about how funders fund and support projects. It is in everyone’s interest that we get better at collaborating and sharing learning as well as funding so that we can look at what is coming next…

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