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  • 30 Sep 2021

A year like no other: Reflecting on PHF’s UK grant-making in 2020/21

The past year has been unprecedented in so many ways. We have published a Review of grant-making in 2020/21 to share what we have learnt in the context of the challenges of Covid-19, and to tell some of the inspiring stories of the organisations and individuals we have supported.

An important year for grant-making
The volume of grant-making was significant, with more than twice as many grants as a normal year. The review shows that we received 1,231 applications requesting a total of £67 million and made 1,219 final decisions of which 63% were approvals. We made a substantial investment in responding to Covid with an emergency response totalling £13.3 million.

Image showing key figures from our Review of Grant-making

A coordinated response
We contributed to several pooled funds and also tried new models of delegated grant-making through other organisations.

Adapting in times of change
We tried new ways to be more open and to be a good partner to those we fund. We introduced an ‘enquiry call’ to provide guidance and support to new potential applicants in our open funds, and we increased our responsiveness to requests for funding – even if they sat outside of our normal funding parameters or timelines.

Listening to our grantees
We kept in regular contact with our funded organisations to understand the impact of the pandemic and to see how we could best support them to survive – and thrive.

One example included in the review is Unlimited, who were funded by an emergency grant to provide commissioning support for disabled artists who were disproportionately hit by Covid. They describe the funding as: ‘Salvation! Stopped people taking out payday loans and they were still able to have a presence, having work they could sell and keep a profile. It saved people’s work lives – and no doubt actual lives’.

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive, said: “We hope that by sharing our reflections on the past year, we can improve our own practice, make the most of the opportunities that have emerged and contribute to conversations about the role of civil society and that of funders in creating a future grounded in social justice.”

To find out more you can explore our microsite or download the report.

This review is supported by an external review by IVAR, who facilitated a process of reflection with our staff and trustees during the early summer of 2021. A summary of their findings is published here.