RRLF – how we assess grant applications
Since August 2020, charities and social enterprises based in England have been able to apply for £4m worth of grants alongside RRLF loans. The £4m is a part of the wider £30m Access has received from dormant bank accounts to create new blended finance solutions for charities and social enterprises in England impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
Grants will only be awarded alongside a loan if it is clear that the COVID-19 interruption to their business model means that they would struggle to meet a viability threshold for a loan without the grant. In this sense, the grant enables use of the loan fund.
We assess grant applications on a case by case basis alongside the loan, grants that are awarded will range in size from £40k - £300k and can be 20% to 40% of the loan amount. During the assessment stage, additional information may be requested to complete a grant assessment alongside the loan assessment. The size of grant awarded and blend ratio is dependent on organisational needs, and with each assessment case, people and place impact are also taken into consideration, using our local economic and diversity data.
This approach enables us to listen to organisational needs and offer a more patient, flexible, and needs-based product.
CCLORS – portfolio analysis and prioritisation
The priority of CCLORS was to support BAME-led and BAME-supporting, and multi-purpose organisations. There were two stages for applicants to pass through before cases could be brought before the Grants Committee.
To achieve this, we designed a series of data collection instruments: application forms for Stage One and Stage Two and a new requirements report template for the grants committee to assess applications with. In line with the Fund’s focus on people and place, we built in eligibility and priority taxonomies into our CRM to aid filtering: these were based around Theme, Sub-Theme, Intended Impact, and Consortium Codes. We then developed our data analysis model, which integrated external and existing data sets from Power to Change, allowing us to feed in some of our existing local economic data sets. This was all made transparent through our guidance and communications to applicants, and integrated through our system set-up.
After the launch and closure of a funding round, Stage One began: data was inputted, cleaned, added and eligibility filtering completed. Next came the data analysis, when a Portfolio Data Pack output was produced, which fed into a presentation of decision-making scenarios via a dashboard. During Stage Two, our team of grant assessors scored the applications which passed the Data Pack and produced recommendations in their assessments. The Data Packs and assessments from the organisations who made it to Stage Two were presented during each of the Grant Committees to feed in at a decision-making level. This also included live data support from our team.
The decisions taken in Stage 1 Grant Committees have been as follows:
This process differs from traditional approaches to grant assessment as the decision-making is driven by the data, and the data from Stage One is fully anonymised. The application process of CCLORS simplifies the information required from the applicant, thereby reducing the application burden, and integrates existing customer data and external data sets to ensure fairer decision making.
Community Panel – involving our customers
This year, we redesigned our customer panel into a community panel of 11 members. This panel will continue to function as a formal feedback platform to discuss SIB’s ideas and work with customers, helping to improve our ‘four Ds’: design, delivery, decision-making and direction.
The redevelopment was informed by feedback internally, our previous customer panel and testing out ideas with the sector.
Using an online platform, SIB will contact panellists on an ad-hoc basis to discuss ideas, obstacles, and questions about the work we are delivering or developing.
During recruitment we focused on looking for diverse range of individuals working across the social sector – with different backgrounds and experiences, ranging from service delivery and entry-level roles, to consultants, managers and CEOs. We had a particular interest in broader representation and involvement of women, young people, a range of socio-economic and regional backgrounds and those from black, brown and other minority ethnic communities. This shaped our outreach and expansion beyond our usual audience.