There were two reasons given to this.
Firstly, the Community Resilience fund. That is a joint initiative between CCC and the Ministry of Health, and promises some $6m over three years. Of course, there is a catch (or two).
- In 2017 it could not be applied for. Rather, recipients were identified by council staff in conjunction with the Psychosocial Governance Group (a Health lead organisation which has some 11 central and local government bodies on it’s governance group).Many groups I note did have Metropolitan funding applications declined based on this fund.
- Decisions are made behind closed doors. There are no published minutes from the meetings, and all we know is what was provided in the media report.
Q-topia received $100k from this fund, only applied for $51,536 from the Metropolitan Fund, and staff recommended $25k… (yes, I did go through the minutes and the agenda line by line). What is that $100k for then?
Aranui Community Trust got $230k, around a third of their annual expenses. But no idea what that’s for. Not even an acknowledgement on their Facebook page as to what its for. And disturbingly they have strong governance links back to the current council.
Te Kahui Kahukura received $200k. I can’t find much out about this group or what they do – aside from the fact they sit on Healthy Christchurch.
I am sure the projects are fine projects and will support the objectives of the fund, which are to increase community participation, connectedness and resilience. But I guess we will never know. And did everyone have a fair suck of the sav of this? I see this year there is a two step application process… that’s good I guess?
Secondly, Council now wants to partner with NFPs. “We can do so much more when we partner with our communities”. Now, I get a bit scared of this word as we throw it around a bit. A not for profit is really just looking for a sugar daddy (or mamma), while the funder is saying they are wanting some commitment.
What does the council bring to the table? Money. But the NFP was set up to (insert charitable purpose here). This needs to be where they focus their effort. Putting time and resources into a “relationship” with Council (or any funder for that matter) means the NFP has to put in more overhead and admin costs – which no one is all that keen to fund. And, to be honest, an NFP is rarely exclusive with one funder. You see, funding from any one funder generally makes up only a small portion of overall operating costs. They often get money from between five and 40 other funding organisations, not to mention private givers and corporate sponsors.
I guess Council has done its strategic planning and are looking to add value. But NFPs really don’t care about a funder’s kitten photos on Facebook, or funder’s staff development needs. They just want the cash, and writing about partnership simply highlights the power imbalance.
There is an exception. I can see a big opportunity for funders to get to work on opening up a dialogue about WHY they are being asked to fund certain groups. Are costs which should sit at central Government being asked to sit within charity? As an example, I once saw an application for mattresses for an old folk’s home. Really. Mattresses for the elderly. I expect my taxes to cover these sorts of costs – you? Same with helipads. Same with social services helping vulnerable people. Why do we ask NFPs to scratch around for funding to get our society working better. If the services are doing what Central Government (and thereby the voters) want them to do, and are achieving the results that we expect them to, then fully fund operational costs and be done with it.
So funders, if you really want to partner with NFPs, think about what YOU bring to the table. Are you happy to use political capital to push costs back to where they belong? And do you have a clear sense of what you think you should be doing as opposed to what you are doing? And are your decisions open and transparent to those who care?
I write about this stuff as believe that as need to understand where funding comes from, where it goes, and how it gets there. Love to talk with you if you think this is at all interesting. Check out my website www.delfi.co.nz.