It goes without saying that the coronavirus pandemic has had huge ramifications for civil society across the globe. From our perspective in the U.K., our side of the Atlantic has certainly seen its fair share of disruption. Almost overnight (in some cases quite literally, like when Britain went into its first lockdown last March), charity fundraising and service delivery either ceased or had to change dramatically.

Faced with an unprecedented crisis — and the U.K. charity sector facing a £10 billion shortfall nationally — our team at London Funders knew that we and our members needed to work together (and quickly) if we were going to effectively provide support to address immediate needs in the capital’s communities.

London Funders was established 25 years ago to bring together the capital’s many local, regional, and national charitable foundations with other key funders such as local government, housing associations, and corporate givers. Now 170 members strong, we encourage our members to connect, contribute, and cooperate to help Londoners to live better lives.

Our day-to-day work involves bringing funders together to tackle big issues or to “deep-dive” into specific problems in local areas. Prior to 2020, our biggest funder collaboration to date was coordinating a £4.8 million package of support in 2017 for the North Kensington area of the city following the Grenfell Tower Fire, which killed 72 people and displaced more than 200 households. Reflecting on that collaborative effort in the context of other pressing social problems in the city, one funder said, “I’ve been thinking about domestic violence and all the women who are murdered every year. We need to respond with the same level of urgency.”

It was this philosophy and background knowledge that helped us to hit the ground running when COVID-19 took over our lives. Using the funder portal we developed in 2017 for the North Kensington program, a group consisting of the Mayor of London, Bloomberg, and City Bridge Trust (the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder), all made an initial commitment to work together on a crisis-funding package for the capital’s charitable sector. Having these three big names on board helped us to reach out to the rest of our member organizations (and beyond) to recruit more funders to pool or align support through the London Community Response fund.

As a single entry point for civil society organizations to apply to multiple funders, the London Community Response partnership has united numerous funders through common principles and a common application form. All funders involved have been generous with sharing insight and intelligence, and have accepted that funding priorities may need to differ over time to reflect the rapidly changing needs of communities.

Read the full article about London Funders by Geraldine Tovey at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.