I have just completed, on behalf of BTEG, a 21 day secondment at the Big Lottery Fund. I spent time in Birmingham, London and Newcastle with staff from the Fund.
21 days doesn’t sound like much time but it was over a six month period, with a specific focus.
Earlier in the year, the Fund offered the opportunity for a Skills Swap. It enabled staff at the Fund to spend time with Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) organisations to find out more about how they operate.
The Fund was undertaking a range of equalities work across the organisation so, in addition, the Fund invited a BAMER organisation to consider working with them, providing a ‘critical friend’ view of how they make decisions around awarding grants on their Awards for All and Reaching Communities programme and to give an external perspective on grants that BAMER-led organisations typically apply for and to offer recommendations on whether improvements could be made.
The secondment would be an opportunity for the Fund to be challenged on its assumptions and processes to see where it could be more inclusive in awarding its grants.
The secondment was offered via the BAMER Cross Funder Alliance Group. BTEG decided to apply as we were interested in supporting the Fund to be as inclusive as they could be, and to increase the number of high quality applications and the number of grants being awarded to BAMER-led organisations.
Has BTEG’s input made a difference?
BTEG shared its thoughts on how the Fund can extend its reach to engage and have open and transparent conversations with BAMER-led groups. We offered recommendations around capturing, recording and using local intelligence – with a view to improving success rates for BAMER-led organisations. Also, we provided the Fund with a viewpoint on the challenges faced by BAMER-led organisations as they try to navigate their way through the funding application process.
Staff at the Fund were left with lots of ideas to consider to take forward their equalities work and further support BAMER-led organisations. The secondment, and our own experiences of applying for funding, also means we can feed back through our networks how organisations can better position themselves to apply for funding and strengthen their applications.
Could this be replicated by other Funders?
This approach could definitely be replicated by other funders. BTEG will be reporting back to the Cross Funder Alliance about the secondment and how this could happen.
Both BTEG and the Big Lottery Fund found this experience beneficial for them and useful to organisations more widely. Having an organisation with a race equality background can provide the perspective a funder needs to honestly critique how inclusive it is when awarding grants.
Any such secondment would need to be entered into with a true spirit of collaboration, with both organisations being clear on what they hope to get out it.
Other things to consider would be:
Ensuring the right fit between organisation and secondee – an informal face to face chat is essential
Being very specific about what the remit is/what the secondee should focus on…
…whilst being flexible about how this is undertaken
Identifying from the start what are the expected outputs and outcomes
Arranging for the secondee to be part of the host organisation’s induction and making them truly feel as though they are a part of the organisation
Having a named person, at a senior level in the organisation, to champion the work and open doors if need be
Having a person in the organisation to organise logistics (meetings, travel, booking rooms, sorting expenses etc.)
For more information, contact Indra Pooran firstname.lastname@example.org