The challenges of being a funder

Brevio Founder Marcelle Speller OBE reflects on the challenges of being a funder and getting it right.

I’ve had a fund on Brevio for the last few months, and over the quiet and strange Christmas break I decided to go through my new charity matches, and decide who else to fund.

Having founded Localgiving over 12 years ago, I have become very aware of the problems faced by charities. When I saw how much of their time goes into filling in grant application forms, I decided to try to do something to reduce this burden on charities. That’s why I founded Brevio. 

But apart from when I appeared on Secret Millionaire 10 years ago, I’ve never really experienced the challenges of making grants. Until now.

It all looks so easy and fulfilling – giving money away to nice people addressing worthy causes and being enthusiastically thanked.

Yes, it can be all those things – if you get it right. 

But getting it right can be quite difficult. So how do you get it right?  

Check everything is as it should be

First, it’s essential to do due diligence on the charity. Luckily, Brevio gives you a great deal of information so you can see whether they are legitimate and whether they really do what they say they are doing.

This also helps ensure that any charity you choose to fund can fulfill your philanthropic objectives. 

Use the tools at your disposal

You can gain a lot of insights into a charity’s goals and purpose from their Brevio profile. Once a charity is matched to you, you will see core details about their organisation. And you can invite those charities to apply to you after they are matched to your fund.

This helps ensure you have a broad variety of causes to choose from. You’ll also get a notification when a charity that you’ve invited has applied to your fund – which is a highly rewarding feeling! 

Once you’ve got a range of applications you can use Brevio’s shortlisting tool to narrow down your search and sharpen your focus.  

Be prepared to make tough decisions

Every grant making budget is limited. And there are always many more charities doing a great job in your chosen area than you are able to fund. For every charity to which you give a grant, there could be five more that need funding. So you have to make hard decisions.

There’s always going to be an element of emotion involved in any decisions you make. But it’s important to also look at what the data says and consider where the greatest need is. This is why Brevio is working with organisations such as NPC in order to integrate rich data sets that can help funders make informed decisions.

You might not always get thanked…

When setting up my fund I knew that as it’s my money, if I get it wrong there’s only myself to blame.

But if you are working for a grant making organisation and you get it wrong, there could be major repercussions – for the reputation of your organisation, and even your career. And rather than being thanked, you might even get complaints from the charities you did not fund.

My experience of founding Brevio and setting up my own profile as a funder on the platform, has shown me that making grants is certainly not as easy as it sounds. There are many things to consider, and sometimes you will make mistakes. But as long as you continue to learn from them, it will be a truly rewarding experience. 

And with Brevio’s suite of tools to help, it can become a much less complex experience. I have great respect for professional grantmakers. My hope is that Brevio can support them to continue their important work, with less time on repetitive admin and more on communicating with the charities they support.

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