It is, in many ways, easier to make larger grants than smaller ones. Smaller grants need an amount of due diligence disproportionate to their size. To make small grants you have to be prepared to ‘make a punt’, take people at face value, go with your gut and trust strangers. Not easy.
Our grant fund comes from the minimum 5% top slice of our income that we make every year. That’s right, grant-making is a cost-of-business to us, not something we do with our profits. We are a micro-business, currently four people, so our grant-making doesn’t rival any of the big names you’ve heard of in the third sector. But we’re OK with that, and it will change. We do what we do and we help who we help. So what and who is that?
Since 2012 we have given grants for over £33,000. The recipients have varied widely, in terms of organisation size and activity. Here’s just a few of the groups we’ve helped:
- Birmingham Talking Newspaper Association: Providing free MP3 players for new listeners to this free service for blind and partially sighted people.
- Suited for Success: Helping with the launch of this renowned CIC helping people get back into employment by providing suitable attire for interviews and working life.
- Gap Arts Project: Supporting this well-regarded arts CIC with their ‘Gap in the Market’ project aimed at addressing the lack of opportunities, engagement and space for young people, especially NEETs (not in education, training or employment).
- Gina’s Running Group: Helping set up a CIC extension of the excellent work done by RSVP (Rape & Sexual Violence Project), a charity helping people recover from sexual violence.
- Ruskin Mill Trust: Helping set up a horticultural project at this nationally-regarded SEN charity’s Argent College in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
- FoodCycle – Aston: Helping feed people through FoodCycle Birmingham, which runs in partnership with Birmingham Settlement, a fantastic community organisation who provide services for vulnerable people in the Aston area. They cook a healthy meal at Birmingham Settlement every Sunday lunchtime.
- Baobab Women’s Project: Supporting them to give confidential advice and assistance to women on immigration, health, financial and housing issues. Baobab Women’s Project focuses on undocumented and asylum-seeking women, and helps newly granted refugees and settled women access established community services. They prioritise women who have been affected by gender violence and trafficking.
- Personal Support Unit (now Support Through Court): Helping this volunteer-led service support people facing court without legal representation (litigants in person) so that they have the best possible chance in court.
- Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice: Contributing to new mattresses for this key provider of adult palliative care services covering the whole of Birmingham.
These are just a few of the groups and organisations we’ve helped. We never push the fact that we are a social enterprise to our marketplace. We believe if our product fulfils a business need and represents good value, people will buy it. Still, if you are one of our clients, or you were in the past: thanks, you did this. If you are not yet a client, you could help us do even more.