Blog by Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive 

@paulbramsbottom

The crisis caused by Covid-19 has put unprecedented pressures on all of the sectors that we serve and fund.

Over the last four months we have attempted to be as thoughtful and flexible as possible in our approach (and were an early signatory to the Funders’ Statement on Covid-19 as part of our public commitment to work in this way).

We have offered flexibility on all elements of our relationship with existing grant holders. In a large number of cases this meant offering the opportunity to transfer to entirely unrestricted funding. In April we made grant payments of £7 million: a record in any month in Wolfson’s long history. In June we committed £18.5 million to organisations across the UK, determined that our grant-making should continue – and as flexibly as possible – during this period of uncertainty.

We have spent a lot of time talking to partner organisations and other funders as we frame our programmes for the rest of this most challenging of all years.

While these conversations will continue as we look further ahead, we are pleased to share with you at this point our plan for the rest of 2020.

Our intention is to run two funding streams for the rest of the year:

(1) For universities, research organisations and schools, we are running our standard funding programmes for capital infrastructure projects

(2) For other areas of our work we will run a Covid-19 Support Fund. We have allocated £10 million to provide unrestricted funding to organisations working in (a) heritage and the arts and (b) health and disability

Our hope is that through this Fund, and the offer of unrestricted grants, organisations will be able to use Wolfson’s support in the way which best responds to their own specific needs – at this critical moment and as they plan for the months to come.  

Given the widespread challenges faced by so many organisations it has been a difficult task to decide how best to allocate this funding. Indeed, we have agonised over the various choices on how to frame the Fund (given that none will be perfect). We wanted a model that was as straightforward as possible and did not waste precious fundraising time with high numbers of unsuccessful applications.

We are planning therefore to use this funding to support organisations who we have been working with over the past few years (generally through supporting their capital infrastructure projects). The Fund will not be open to speculative applications, and we will be in contact directly with organisations who are eligible for funding. 

Invitations to apply will be sent out by Friday 21 August.

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