In May 2011, the Government's Giving White Paper announced a range of measures to support new and better ways to enable the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money, including the Innovation in Giving Fund.
"Our ambition is to stimulate a step change in giving... to make it easier and more compelling to give time and money... to give better support to the trailblazers and innovators."
Francis Maude Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General and Nick Hurd Minister for Civil Society
The Innovation in Giving Fund aims to invest in, support and grow innovative ideas that will bring about a step-change in the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money and which have a credible route to being self-sustaining in the longer term. The Fund is managed by Nesta, the UK's Innovation Foundation.
Nesta, in partnership with Volunteering England, is now announcing a new strand of the fund that will support volunteer centres to develop and prototype innovations in giving. Volunteer Centres have been an important part of the local giving landscape in many local areas for a long time. They are deeply embedded in the network of local voluntary and community organisations, have close links with councils and other public services, and provide an infrastructure and assets that connects volunteers to local volunteering opportunities.
In recent years the operating environment has changed dramatically. The financial crisis has led to significant cuts in the grants that support the majority of the work that Volunteer Centres do and other revenue streams are under pressure. At the same time, we have seen the emergence of a host of innovations from outside Volunteer Centres that are seeking to transform the way that people volunteer their time, from technology platforms that match opportunities and availability, to new models of reciprocity like timebanking.
We think that these pressures have created an urgent need for Volunteer Centres to innovate, both in what they do and the way that they do it. They need both new offers and new business models.
We know that Volunteer Centres do not often have the capacity to invest in innovation. Our ambition over the next year is to support a small number of Volunteer Centres to develop and grow innovations in what they do and how they do it. We aim to find Volunteer Centres that are already innovating and provide the resources and support to accelerate what they are doing.
The core aim of the programme is to help Volunteer Centres increase their impact and become more sustainable. The ultimate aim is to increase the number of people giving time to causes they care about in their local area. The programme will seek to generate learning, insights and products that are replicable across, and of benefit to, the whole sector.
Over the course of nine months, starting in April 2013, the programme will offer financial and practical support to approximately 10 Volunteer Centres. Participating Centres will receive:
Throughout this phase, coaches will work with Volunteer Centres to challenge and support them to maintain their focus on innovation. We will also put in place capacity to track impact and evaluate the progress of each Centre's progress.
What kinds of things will this programme support?
Volunteer Centres can submit ideas that are in their infancy, or they can be more developed with some work having already gone into testing. Proposals must fit within one of the following themes:
There are five core criteria against which all applications will be considered.
i. Impact - proposals need to demonstrate the potential for significant impact at scale in line with Nesta's charitable objects, which means the potential to engage significantly more people over time. You should explain what potential your idea has for increasing the giving of time, what social outcomes and public benefit will be achieved and suggest ideas for measuring impact. You will need to be able to explain how you have established the demand for your idea. Applicants should be clear and realistic about the ambition and the trajectory for achieving impact at scale.
ii. Innovation - proposals need to demonstrate how they are innovative, which might mean applying an existing idea to a new context, a disruptive new application of technology or a wholly new idea. Innovations always build on other innovations (often ones that have failed) and you will need to demonstrate that you are aware of what has gone before and how your innovation builds on it. Applicants must be committed to innovation and radical change as a way of enhancing reach, strengthening impact and becoming self-sustaining.
iii. Sustainability - proposals need to demonstrate how they will be sustained beyond the support they receive from the Fund, which should be seen as investment. Applicants must be able to articulate a vision which contributes to the sustainability of their volunteer centre and shows how it would attract new people into volunteering in new ways. We will not support proposals that create ongoing demand for grant funding or do not offer a credible route to achieving financial sustainability. We will give preference to proposals that can demonstrate match funding, whether expressed through time or money.
iv. Capacity - all applicants to the Fund will need to describe the capacity of the team that will put the idea into practice, where the gaps are and how they would propose to fill those. An appetite for radical change will be a key characteristic of the selected Centres. There must be senior leadership commitment (including from trustees), a strong team with skills and behaviours that positively support the innovation process, and a willing to devote sufficient resources to the programme.
v. Openness - all applicants to the Fund need to demonstrate a willingness to share their experiences and learning to help establish a body of knowledge that can bring about a sustained change in the culture of giving and exchange. Volunteering England intends to share the insights and learnings that are gained through the programme.
Innovations must have the potential to significantly extend the reach and increase the impact of Volunteer Centres in local areas in driving up numbers of people giving their time to causes they care about.
The Innovation in Giving Fund is focused on increasing giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money in England. This strand of the Fund is only open to applications from volunteer centres that are accredited by Volunteer England or their host organisations (for example Councils for Voluntary Service). We will be looking for a mix of Volunteer Centres hosted by CVS's and those not. Applicants must be based in England and the benefits of your proposal should focus primarily or significantly on England. Volunteer Centres can apply in partnership with other organisations but the Volunteer Centre must be the lead partner/applicant.
We cannot fund activity which is party-political in intention, use, or presentation and we will not normally fund the purchase of capital equipment.
Applicants who applied to the first call for ideas can apply again to this programme, but should first read the feedback on the first round which is available here.
Applicants should submit a video pitch of no more than three minutes and a short online form that captures some basic information about the idea and your organisation.
Applicants are invited to one of two workshops designed to answer your questions about the programme, inspire you with recent examples of innovations in giving and help develop your thinking. Attendance is not mandatory, but they may help you prepare and refine your application to the programme.
The workshops will be held on 21 January (Birmingham) and 23 January (Manchester). We expect each workshop to run from 10am to no later than 4pm. If you are interested in attending please are interested in attending please register your interest at www.volunteeringengland.eventbrite.co.uk no later than Thursday, 10 January 2013. If you have any questions email email@example.com.
This call for ideas closes at Noon on 8 February. The most promising ideas will then be shortlisted by a panel made up of Nesta, Volunteering England and the Cabinet Office. This panel will meet in mid-February and applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by early March. The timetable for the selection process is:
Find out more about the £10m fund supporting ideas with potential to deliver a significant increase in the giving and exchange of time, assets, skills, resources and money