A cautious approach to multi-year funding

May 16, 2016

The benefits of multi-year funding for grantees are well documented – greater funding security and less time spent reapplying for grants.

But multi-year funding can have significant cost implications for grantmakers, particularly those with limited budgets. For this reason, Wellington Community Trust took a cautious approach before launching its new multi-year funding programme in February.

“It was a big departure for us to look at granting this way,” says chief executive Mark Cassidy. “We went through a very careful exercise in terms of the long-term implications and the financial commitment to the trust.”

That included checking out the international research, as well as talking to other community trusts which already run multi-year funding programmes and to fellow Wellington grantmakers and long-time multi-year funders the Todd Foundation and JR McKenzie Trust.

They also made sure the current board was committed to the concept, and carefully documented the process for the benefit of future board members.

The trust, which allocates about $1.5 million a year, eventually opted for a targeted programme providing untagged, five-year funding to a small number of organisations helping to improve the lives of children from conception to age 5.

This year’s recipients, who will be announced in June, will receive a total of $480,000 over five years for projects that nurture families and provide healthy, safe homes. The size of the grants will reduce in the fourth and fifth years.

“Multi-year funding is new for us and because of our size we ensured that a lot of thought went into our decision,” says Mark. “But having said that we will continue to learn from the organisations we will be working with and use that experience to shape future multi-year funding initiatives”.