The Rank Foundation has awarded a total of almost £1.5 million to 130 Network Members using a mutual trust-based model of grantmaking.

The Rank Foundation’s Network includes around 1,500 members from charities and social enterprises across the UK. In October 2022 and January 2023, Rank surveyed the Network to understand the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on their work.

More than 360 people told us about their experience of the cost-of-living crisis, which combines increased demand, increased costs, and a more challenging fundraising environment.

In response, Rank designed two grant programmes and have awarded funds to 130 Network members totalling almost £1.5 million.

Increased demand for services

Demand for services has increased from an already high post-pandemic level. An average of 54% of members told us that demand had increased either ‘more than ever before’ or ‘a large amount’ in October 2022 and January 2023.

Between October and January, the number of members saying demand had increased ‘more than ever before’ rose from 12.87% to 30.83%. Reasons for the increase included both the negative “reduced statutory service capacity” and the more positive “good reputation”.

Increased costs of operating

Members who told us their running costs had increased ‘more than ever before’ went up to 24.38% in January 23 compared with 11.44% the previous October. One member told us:

“Every budget line is up, staffing, overheads and fees”.

Challenging fundraising

Increased demand and increased food, fuel and other bills are compounded by stretched funder resources – and in some cases pausing of grantmaking activity – after increased grantmaking during the pandemic.

Challenges in fundraising also increased between October 22 and January 23.

The cost-of-living grants

With a scarcity of funding for the sector we targeted our grantmaking at those who have struggled to secure funding elsewhere. The mutual trust that characterises our relationships with grantees in the Network enabled us to fund a variety of bespoke needs at the grassroots level.

A Cost-of-Living Core Grants Programme was open to members of the Rank Network who are struggling to meet core running costs this year. The maximum grant offered was £25,000 and we encouraged applicants only to apply for what they needed so we could share our limited funding pot with as many members as possible.

Full awards averaged around £18,500 and the part awards around £13,000, showing that most people didn’t ask for the maximum amount. This collegiate approach to applications means we were able to award 80 core costs grants.

A Cost-of-Living Small Grants Programme was also created to cover minor but essential costs such as transport, fuel, and other consumables. Again, we asked members only to apply for what they needed, up to a maximum of £5,000. We were able to award grants to 94% of applications, which totalled 50 grants.

While we will never be able to support every applicant every time, this trust-based approach is possible because of the strong relationships we build with our Network, and their collective good will.