With the announcement of the Spring Grants, and with Brighton Pride looming, Chris Gull, Chair of the Rainbow Fund gives a progress report on the activities of this unique fund.
First of all what do we do?
Historically The Rainbow Fund started as a legacy project after successful fundraising for the commission and erection of the AIDS memorial in New Steine. We are therefore responsible for the ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the memorial. Currently we are working with the artist who created it, Romany Mark Bruce, to get the inevitable build up of seagull poo removed, and a protective coating applied.
We are a fund that makes grants to LGBT and HIV groups and organisations in Brighton and Hove that are LGBT led and volunteer led. We are NOT fundraisers, but provide a safe clearing house for those that do want to fundraise or donate, safe in the knowledge that the funds donated will be used to best effect.
This is useful for donors and fundraisers (such as local commercial venues) because they don’t have to try to second guess where the money they raise will give most benefit, and for the groups and organisations it means that they don’t have to spend time and effort trying to persuade venues to do benefits for them.
Locally there are somewhere between 20 and 30 organisations and groups providing services specifically to members of the LGBT communities and/or individuals affected by HIV. Most are small, and volunteer led, they have no paid workers in administrative roles, and most have no premises and offices. They rent or use donated space, and are often run from somebody’s front room.
There are also bigger organisations, which, because of the nature of the services and support they provide, are, and should be, run like small businesses, with a mixture of paid administrators, sometimes paid fund raisers, and volunteers.
In Brighton & Hove these organisations include THT, The Sussex Beacon, LGBT Switchboard, Mind Out and Allsorts.
The Rainbow Fund itself has minimal overheads. We are set up as a Community Interest Company, have no premises, and no paid staff. We have paid to register the CIC, and also the frames for the certificates we give to every group or organisation when we make a grant to them. That’s it, no other expenses.
As Chair I’m responsible for day-to-day management, and we also have a Grants Panel who meet twice a year in March/April and in August/September.
The panel discusses grant applications, and advises on decisions. As Chair I take part in discussions, and vote, but we also have an Observer present who can contribute to the discussion, but cannot vote. After the Panel meeting we may meet with the applicants to discuss their applications and raise any questions that the grants panel had.
It is vital that our “dealings” are open and transparent. All grants given, and donations and funding received, are acknowledged in G Scene Magazine and on The Rainbow Fund website.
We currently receive between £60,000 and £100,000 per year to give out as grants. For the past two years Pride has “ringfenced” £1 from every ticket for entrance to the park (and now also from every wrist band sold for the Village Street Party) for local LGBT and HIV groups and charities. One of the ways in which they aim to make a “Pride with Purpose”.
This money is donated to The Rainbow Fund to make grants. We also receive donations from local groups such as Brighton Bear Weekender. Bear Patrol, venues and choirs, as well as individuals. We will also be setting up a local giving page for individuals who wish to set up a regular payment – for those wanting to give back and “look after our own”.
Depending on how much money is available in the Fund, we decide on the criteria for each Grants Round, including the maximum amount for each grant. We try to keep the criteria fairly fluid, so that we can respond to changing needs, and encourage innovative projects.
We are very aware that the “small” groups work best when they work together, and we were very pleased to see the formation of The Small Groups Network in 2014.
In terms of “best bang for your buck”, we seek to encourage this cooperation, encourage shared use of “community resources” and discourage duplication of services, and we can do this by making clear, as we did with the recent Spring grants round, that priority would be given to applications for community resources, and to joint applications, and partner applications where one group is funded for working to provide services or expertise for another group’s members.
In the past we have always asked for applications to be very specific about what the money would be used for, and this led to applications becoming “project focused” when in fact they just needed money to keep going.
We will now consider applications for core funding for members of The Small Groups Network as such groups find it very difficult to get this funding from other sources, especially when they first set up.