“Unite” campaign about how the funding systems affect the not-for-profit sector

I’ve just been sent a link to a survey that “Unite” the union is undertaking. (I’m a member of “Unite”.) They seem to be starting a campaign about how current funding systems affect the not-for-profit sector – how funding instability negatively affects the service clients get as well as the wellbeing of workers in the sector.

Well, this seems like a positive thing. If you’d like, take the survey at https://www.questback.com/amicus/fundingsurvey/ – you don’t have to be a union member to take part.

Here’s what I wrote in response to Please provide examples of how the service received by your clients / service users is being affected by the way funding is currently structured?

Target-heavy conditions on funding mean that clients needs and wishes do not guide the work we have to do – we’re so focussed on meeting targets, we don’t have the time to develop the relationships with our clients to get to know how best to help them and what they actually need or want.

Short-term funding means we have to constantly bid for more funds which takes us away from actually working for and with our clients.

Government funding bodies (at all levels of government) want to deal with ONE not-for-profit organisation that covers and represents an equivalent area or population to themselves. This has led to us merging with or taking over other organisations and growing bigger and bigger so we can “play” in this arena. However this has resulted in us becoming removed from the communities, clients and people we are trying to serve. And people are increasingly reluctant to serve as trustees of such large organisations, as these seem to demand more of trustees than they can give or want to give, and potential trustees don’t want to serve an organisation that is so removed from the issues and needs that directly affect their lives.

And here’s what I wrote in response to Please provide examples of how you and your colleagues wellbeing is being affected by the way funding is currently structured?

Target-heavy conditions on funding puts pressure on colleagues to work according to “top-down” targets. This is stressful, and is also disempowering when we really want to be working in “bottom-up” ways that are flexible and emerge through our direct experience and our relationships with our clients. Colleagues end up suffering from stress, and find their creativity and passions for their clients needs become stifled.

Short-term funding means we have to constantly work as fund-raisers which takes us away from what we want to do which is to work with and for our clients. The pressure to raise funds is very stressful as we know our success or failure will directly affect our employer, employment and livelihood.

Government funding bodies (at all levels of government) want to deal with ONE not-for-profit organisation that covers and represents an equivalent area or population to themselves. This has led to our organisation merging with or taking over other organisations and growing bigger and bigger so we can “play” in this arena. However this means colleagues have to work differently, according to the demands of keeping large organisations going – either as functionaries with little influence on the overall direction of the organisation, or as managers with little direct contact with the people we are meant to be working for and with. This has taken us away from our creativity and passion for our work, and means our professional experience and relationships with clients are under-valued and don’t influence decision-making. This de-skilling disempowerment is disheartening and stressful.

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