How to give away £19m in a month

Giving away £19m in one month sounds like a dream job but for Jane Harris and her team it’s more important than that.

Jane (pictured) is Director of Regional Grants at the Steve Morgan Foundation and has been tasked with allocating the £20m Community Match Challenge Fund.

The fund consists of £10m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and £10m in match-funding by Steve Morgan.

The £10m from the DCMS came from a new £85m Community Match Challenge Fund and is part of the Government’s £750m support package for charities.

Jane’s eight-strong team swung into action on October 6thand within the first month had made 107 awards totalling £19.1m.

She said: “Because a lot of the charities were struggling there was no time to delay. 

“Although we’re used to giving away millions of pounds the scale of the operation was unprecedented.

“The first thing we did was bring the grants team and the finance team under one roof to work alongside three of our trustees. That enabled us to make decisions quicker.

“The key criteria was to support charities and not-for-profit organisations providing essential support to vulnerable people during the pandemic and effectively ensure they stayed in business.”

The £19.1m allocated so far equates to £955,000 a day or £120,000 an hour!

Jane said: “Someone joked that we needed one of those giant displays like they use on BBC’s Children in Need to show the running total of money allocated but I’m not sure it could have kept up!”

The awards varied in size from £12,000 to £3m but Jane said the Steve Morgan Foundation’s 20-year track record of giving away millions of pounds to good causes meant they were perfectly placed to rise to the challenge.

“Over the last six months our emergency funding and the Community Match Challenge has awarded £26m,” she said. 

“We know that we have literally saved many organisations from going to the wall and that many essential services are still being delivered as a result of the funding. That’s very rewarding.

“A lot of hard work goes into assessing each and every application and we know that for many this can be the difference between closing essential services and staying open.

“The response from the team has been brilliant but we still have some more money to give out so the hard work will continue.”

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