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The exceptionally difficult challenges that pervaded 2020 further highlighted the importance of our work as demand continued to rise and the depth of support needed became more and more apparent with each passing day.
As an organisation, we are committed to the empowerment of Black people and this year we have hit the ground running on the mandate. We have continued to make strides in our mission to deliver the best support we can to the people most in need of our help within the Black community and the Black-led organisations that have more immediate access and understanding of the local issues that may compound and intensify their specific needs.
The following is a roundup of our work over the last quarter. 2021 has been an exciting year so far, with over 2000 unique individuals receiving at least 1 hour of training support either in a group setting or through a 1-2-1. Approximately 10% of them received more than 3 hours of support and 6.5% of them received more than 6 hours of support.
As part of our mandate to continually empower Black people, we have continued championing the causes of Black communities by empowering individuals within those local communities to speak up and trust us to convey the message clearly.
Our community members have lent their voices to key reports and articles that helped us realise the severity of funding support needed by Black-led charities and social enterprises who self-fund approximately 60% of the money they spend on keeping their organisation available to their communities. Black women, Black LGBTQ+ and Black non-binary people shared theri stories of fear and trauma with us when we asked them about their experiences of policing in the UK.
We continue to actively engage in open innovation by bringing community members together in focus groups that are enriching for them and helpful for us as we continue our community-first approach to co-production of all our community offerings.
2021 Q1 Impact Summary
Here are a couple of quotes from our community members:
"Thank you very much for your time and expertise. It's the best financial advice I've received so far - I feel much better and can see a path to success - I've already been singing your praises! Keep up the good work Caroline. It makes such a difference. I'll definitely pay it forward." - a community member after a 1-2-1 with one of our expert financial coaches.
“This session helped reinforce my need to focus on strategy. It's easy to get stuck in the day to day but it's important to have a birds eye view, in addition to having input from your beneficiaries and partners. Then using that data to create a long term plan that keeps you focussed. This is one of my core priorities at the moment. Thank you to Ugo and the team for a great Core 1 programme.” - a community member who leads a social enterprise after a group training session about Strategy
We are so encouraged by the feedback and in-session comments made by our community members.
Commenting on the impact the innovation programmes are having, our Head of Innovation, Caroline Komuhangi shares: “The recruitment of participants across our programmes has been steady, with increased uptake in the My Moon Landing and Black and Good programmes. The coaching sessions have been a hit with the participants and there is a lot of interest in follow up sessions. In addition, we are thankful to the high calibre of experts that have joined us so far this year. We’re looking forward to growing our participation levels in the next quarter.”
Our external training and consultancy work has also been growing over the last few months. Recognition for our work in the open innovation and social impact space has led to training and consultancy contracts with a number of organisations including:
At this point in our financial year, which begins in October of each year, we have secured £1.03M in total funding to support our community and develop stronger mechanisms to sustain our impact and growth in the coming years. Our major funders include:
Ana Bradley, our Director of Digital Communications shares: “In Q1, our goal was to grow the communities of the DiNNHQ core programmes, primarily through organic reach. We successfully grew our digital community by 4,350 people, achieved 650,000 impressions, and maintained a good engagement rate of 2% across organic campaigns. In the first 3 months of 2021 alone, we have engaged with 12,382 people online (likes, follows, comments, retweets).”
Ana continues, “We’re continually evaluating our strategies so that we can engage with each specific community through their platform of choice. For example, we discovered that some target users prefer YouTube, others use Twitter more and some use a combination of platforms. Our goal in Q2 is to grow our audience as well as engagement rates, while continuing to share the opportunities available on our programmes with potential and existing users.”
During Q1, we wrote and shared a number of blog posts across each program, including reactive comments on key news stories such as the Race Report, the murder of Sarah Everard (thoughts on safety from our My Moon Landing community) and many others.
Do it Now Now was also featured in a number of articles and reports, allowing us to add our voice to the wider conversation on social justice and inclusion for the Black community. In Q1 we were featured by:
In the past few months we have grown significantly, going far beyond the figures stated above. We have significantly strengthened our relationship with our community members, we have continued and strengthened our organisational culture and we have clarified the vision for this organisation in a post-pandemic world, committed to growing our impact with breadth and depth, sensibly and boldly.
We are truly grateful to each individual that has trusted us with their story, their time and their own expertise as they support us and each other.
We’ll report again at the end of Q2.
Sign up to our newsletter to receive that and other reports, learnings, articles and insights we share about our community.
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It’s clear that we’re living through a historic moment, so we wanted to highlight how Black-led organisations have adapted during this time and pinpoint the persistent issues affecting their capacity to thrive in the UK.
Through the creation of Common Call, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with some fantastic, Black-led impact organisations in the UK that deliver transformative services in their communities. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, these organisations have had to pivot and change how they respond to their communities’ urgent needs. It hasn’t always been easy, but they’ve pulled through, continuing to make an impact during this uncertain time.
We’re excited to unveil two reports that give a glimpse into some of the challenges that Black-led impact organisations have to navigate in the UK, and how critical it is for them to access funding.
In Common Call: Stories from the frontline, we get a birds eye view from inside some of the organisations making a real impact in their communities. Our conversations with Common Call grantees leading these organisations reveal how their lived experiences sparked the inspiration to develop targeted services tackling social and economic issues in their communities. We also speak with people who have benefitted from their services and our Director of Investments and Grants, Ugo Ikokwu explains why funding Black-led impact organisations is vital for British civil society.
Our learning report, This is what we know now takes an internal perspective as we share what we’ve discovered as an organisation provisioning funding through our Common Call initiative. We’ve engaged almost 500 organisations through our work, which gives us a unique insight into the challenges they face and the unique strengths each one has. We share an end-to-end examination of our process for developing the fund and highlight the specific things we can do to enhance the initiative in the future.
Each report explores different aspects of the impacts of funding in communities, and both highlight how crucial it is for Black-led organisations to access funding - the services they provide with these funds is critical to the services they are able to provide. The reports analyse the intricate systemic structures that affect Black-led organisations and propose solutions to help them flourish, even in the most unpredictable circumstances.
Our aim is to bring these issues to light and share our findings with the Do it Now Now community to enable tangible change in British civil society. We hope that you are both informed and inspired to push for the change that our society needs by reading these reports.
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Through our work with British, Black-led impact organisations, we’re continually learning more about how they’re growing and benefitting their communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic. As organisations aim to meet the growing demand for their services, we’ve partnered with them to provide funding and resources to grow and succeed in their endeavours. Here are a few of the significant lessons we’ve learned from surveying and speaking with grant applicants.
How to effectively engage potential grantees
Through the Common Call fund, we engaged with almost 500 grant applicants, 80% of which were new to our organisation. The high number of new applicants suggests that our engagement through social media and email is vital in stimulating a relevant flow of applicants. Our commitment to a joined-up communications strategy helped broaden awareness of the fund and continue to be an essential asset as we build relationships with new and existing Black-led organisations in the UK.
Due to our targeted communications, applicants were able to build more awareness of who we are and how we could partner with them thanks to the Common Call fund.
How to measure impact
Given that Common Call is our pilot fund for this initiative, pre-existing equivalent data does not exist to benchmark the results against other programmes. Our fund was borne out of the need to redress the lack of resources and resource allocation for Black-led organisations in the UK, so it is essential we find a way to measure its impact. To make this possible, we’ve developed a model that compares the funding across different areas so we can establish a foundational approach to understanding the unique context of Black-led impact organisations. Due to the rapid turnaround of the fund, we are not in a position to fully determine the impact of the funding just yet. However, our long-term aims include following if and how this funding has helped organisations grow by using income as a proxy to determine the impact.
As we spotlight the need for ringfenced funding aimed at Black-led impact organisations, it’s equally important we have the data and information to support our approach. Not only does it guide our principles and how we evolve as a fund, it also shapes the outlook of civil society towards Black-led organisations - which is needed to bring systemic change to the sector.
Why Common Call is vital
Overall, we learned that the need for a fund like Common Call is valid and instrumental in providing organisations with additional support, especially at the onset of the global pandemic. If anything, Covid-19 highlighted the already present inequalities and barriers Black-led organisations face on a daily basis. We aim to support organisations through the pandemic and look ahead to restructuring the systemic inequalities that affect Black-led charities and social enterprises, so it’s important that we work together with grantees. Our vision for Common Call is about working with Black-led organisations so they can do what they know best and make a positive change in their community. Our learning will inform how our work continues, and we hope it will shape the future of Black-led organisations for the better.
In our report, This is what we know now, we share our learnings from the inaugural Common Call fund to review what has worked and what we can improve. These findings will inform our future approach as we continue to work with Black-led organisations and help them succeed as they stabilise and seek to scale to meet the growing demand for their services.
Please see the report below:
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A word from Bayo Adelaja, CEO
So much has changed across the world over the past year. As an inequality focused organisation we have seen a significant rise in the need for our services, support and advocacy for the demographic of people we centre in our work, namely Black people.
We continue to be very grateful to our key partners and clients who have financially supported our work and provided access points for our beneficiaries to gain even more support than we are able to provide as a single organisation.In keeping with our belief in open innovation, we are happy to have a network of stakeholders that have seen the need for the deliberate and continued support of the Black community in the UK and across Africa.
2019-20 has been a learning year for our organisation, in terms of what we need to do for our beneficiaries, but in light of COVID, also what we need to do to ensure our organisation’s continued sustainability financially and as a deliverer of impact across under-served communities.