360Giving report highlights importance of supporting infrastructure organisations

8th March 2023

In newly-published research using the 360Giving dataset, Sector Infrastructure Funding explores the vital role of infrastructure bodies in supporting and enabling charities across the UK. It examines how voluntary sector infrastructure has changed over the last decade, the key challenges around funding for these organisations and the potential impact of this change on the wider sector. Supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to produce this analysis, 360Giving are aiming for this research to act as a starting point to facilitate discussions and support more intentional decision-making in infrastructure funding, in what is likely to be a very challenging period for the sector.

The report highlights a number of challenges around funding for these organisations over time:

  • The sector infrastructure has not grown in real terms over the last decade, following large falls in the size of the sector before that. This is despite growth in the voluntary and community sector as a whole over the same period. This means that, compared to the picture in 2009-10, voluntary sector infrastructure in 2020-21 was much smaller, but supporting a larger voluntary sector.
  • Although funding from non government grantmakers is only a small percentage of the total funding for infrastructure, these grants are an important part of the funding mix for some organisations, particularly for specialist organisations supporting marginalised groups who are least able to pay for services, and where the capacity building support might not be available without this grant funding.
  • Very few trusts and foundations fund the sector infrastructure organisations and it is a very fragile ecosystem. Changes to funder strategies expose this vulnerability with some infrastructure bodies reporting that they have few funders that they are even eligible to apply to.
  • Covid-19 had a significant impact on voluntary sector infrastructure funding, including large one-off grants to help infrastructure bodies support their members, as well as help them survive as organisations themselves. While this impact has manifested in a rise in the total incoming resources of the sector in 2020-21, it is unlikely that these increased resources will be sustained over time. In addition there is a risk that through their work during the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, some of these organisations are trying to support an increased number of charities and community groups needing support when their own funding position is precarious.

Read the full report here: Sector Infrastructure Funding – 360Giving (threesixtygiving.org)