And boy, does it take some time! That’s what no one ever really tells you; not only will you get the door slammed in your face more times than you can count but you’ll spend more time than you care to think about trying to get to that mean ol’ door.
It’s a horrible cycle that is both hugely demoralising and absolutely necessary to charities.
That’s why, along with a group of other amazing charities, we leapt at the chance to take part in the first WebFair. Although untried and potentially risky it was worth it to try and get something this cool off the ground.
There’s the obvious win, win, win; the charity gets some funding; someone gets to clean out clutter and support their favourite local charity; and someone else gets something they need plus the knowledge their $$$s are going to a worthy cause. But it’s more than that!
WebFair allows you to connect directly with your community of support – getting money from your community like this is a real vote of confidence in what you’re doing and who you are – direct from the people! Charities exist to support (some element of) the community; receiving public money like this reminds us who we’re for and adds a layer of moral accountability that is so important to our everyday existence.
The funds also come to you untagged, which is a huge boon in this world of funding for projects, funding for kids, arts, sports or whatever – sometimes we just need funding to do the basics – the basics aren’t sexy though. Finding a model that can support us to just operate; turning on lights, buying stamps, making sure there are enough chairs in the office (yes, that’s a thing!), and thus allowing us to do the ‘sexy’ stuff the big funders like, is just amazing. And so rare.
The process itself also has benefits. You could sign up, let it run and see where you get to (which you could legitimately do and still see some great benefits!) or push, push, push. Something like this is directly proportional to the effort you put in. You’ll not waste time filling out endless forms with well-thought out answers to be told in six months you ‘missed a letter of reference so weren’t considered, good luck’. There are no hoops to jump through, odd priorities to match, crazy reports or constant ‘relationship massaging’ (check-ins with the funders to keep ‘em sweet and make sure they haven’t forgotten you). And the best part, the work you do end up doing to push your WebFair also helps you extend your networks, reach new audiences and reconnect with your existing supporters – it’s not dead-time like filling in a form.
This may sound like a whinge, and maybe it is slightly, the funding landscape has changed significantly in the past 5-10 years and not for the better in my opinion. Most of us will have to keep jumping through the hoops and playing the game because it is absolutely necessary for our existence.
But we can also support new models, like WebFair, that may help the other funders to reflect on their processes and motives. Or, if you’re more sceptical, we can at least be part of supporting an alternative that allows a few less grant applications and far more community benefits.
Rachael Welfare from Gap Filler