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Independent evaluation reveals NET’s funding model was critical to Coronavirus Appeal success


The National Emergencies Trust is to expand its work with expert partners after an independent evaluation of its Coronavirus Appeal revealed that its trust-based funding model was critical to success.

The National Emergency Trust’s network enabled the £99+million Coronavirus Appeal to reach an estimated 13 million people during the pandemic. 

The evaluation, which was carried out over 18 months by researchers at Nottingham Trent University and funded by Economic and Social Research Council, shows that the layered ‘Network of Giving’ that included distribution partners, local infrastructure organisations, and larger and smaller VCSOs, proved ‘vital’ in reaching those with unmet needs.

The report points to the positive impact of trust within that Network of Giving. It found that distribution partners were trusted to use funding where most appropriate in supporting their communities, while those using funding to on-grant to VCSOs could pass on flexible criteria, enabling VCSOs to feel trusted to use funds as appropriate.

As a result, it recommends that the Trust now widen its networks further to encompass more organisations with expertise in supporting placed-based or needs-based communities. 

Professor Rowena Hill, Nottingham Trent University, said:

“A stand-out success of the Coronavirus Appeal was the trust-based approach to funding through the Network of Giving. Community foundations, via UKCF, and latterly national charity partners were empowered to apply their lived and local expertise to direct funding in the most appropriate way. In future UK emergencies, pre-existing relationships will be paramount to ensure timely funding can be distributed confidently, especially during shorter disasters.”

Last year the National Emergencies Trust announced the launch of its National Charitable Partners Programme, which welcomed the British Red Cross, Cruse Bereavement Support, MIND and Victim Support as initial pilot partners. In response to the findings, the charity is now expanding the programme to encompass further expertise in:

The Gypsies, Roma and Travellers CommunityCommunities experiencing racial inequalityDisaster and rapid responseTrauma and mental health needs for children and young peopleFaith communities

The Trust will also be expanding the way it works with partners and beneficiaries to harness their full expertise. It will work closely with UKCF and its network of 47 community foundations to develop processes for grassroots intelligence-sharing during appeals. It will also explore ways to share responsibility for identifying unmet needs with members of its partner network, Survivors Advisory Forum and Equity Scrutiny Group during future Appeals. 

Mhairi Sharp, CEO of the National Emergencies Trust, said:

“After the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and terror attacks in 2017 the Charity Commission proposed an independent charity be set up to collaborate with the charity sector during UK emergencies. The idea was that, by working together, the sector could ensure funds reach survivors fast and fairly. Nottingham Trent’s evaluation of the Coronavirus Appeal proves this collaborative, trust-based approach works. Community foundations harnessed local insight and networks to award more than 14,000 grants to grassroots groups while national charity partners identified and honed in on unmet needs. The job for us now is to refine the model further, ensuring that our growing network of experts can play fully to their unique strengths.”

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