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As an open innovation organisation, Do it Now Now is consistently seeking to create and draw from research across the UK to contextualise our understanding of the challenges of the people we support as we design programmes and initiatives to help reduce the barriers they face, whether structural or institutional.
Black people in Britain face insurmountable challenges improving their social standing in society. Despite attempts to navigate the systemic barriers, their contribution to society is perpetually undermined, which has a serious impact on financial security and quality of life in the Black community. Through our work, we equip the most marginalised groups within the Black community with the resources and knowledge to navigate the societal pressures they may face.
Discrimination in the workplace and during the hiring process restricts the career opportunities and growth of Black people, leading to underemployment, unemployment and disenfranchisement. This is one of the causes of financial hardship within the Black community and the recent unemployment figures suggest this stark trend will continue to disproportionately affect young Black people entering the workforce. We believe that supporting Black people in entrepreneurship and social enterprise gives them the autonomy to create wealth and facilitate job creation in their communities and beyond.
The Black community is a leader in volunteering and shows a desire to participate in local decision-making and many Black-led organisations provide an avenue for community members to exercise their civic participation. However without proper funding these community led organisations cannot afford to properly resource themselves or remunerate their staff. Effective core funding for place-based Black-led social enterprises and charities is an untapped opportunity to create and safeguard employment opportunities in economically deprived areas across the country.
Black people are disproportionately affected by the criminal justice system in Britain and this trend is emblematic of the systemic injustices experienced by Black people in the UK. We have sought to bring some attention to the framing of young Black people in conversations about rising rates of violence in terms of causation rather than correlation. Over the next year we are interested in working with organisations in the youth sector on a framework that places unlocking the untapped potential of Black young people at the centre of their key performance indicators.
The health inequities experienced by Black people are reflective of the broader social disparities we face, unfortunately leading to increased morbidity during the pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, despite a lack of disposable income, Black-led organisations have pivoted to online mechanisms to deliver services to their community at this unsettling time. During the pandemic many Black led organisations have been dealing with a significant increase in demand for their services while remaining understaffed and underfunded to carry out this crucial work.
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As an open innovation organisation, Do it Now Now is consistently seeking to create and draw from research across the UK to contextualise our understanding of the challenges of the people we support as we design programmes and initiatives to help reduce the barriers they face whether structural or institutional.
In this document we are laying out the statistics we have pulled from published research that is specific to the experiences of the Black community across the UK.
Black people account for 3% of the British population, just under 2 million people, yet we disproportionately experience social and economic inequality across multiple areas such as employment, education, criminal justice and more on a daily basis.
Our work across initiatives such as My Moon Landing, Black and Good, Voltage Revolution and Common Call has given us a deeply rooted perspective of the real effects of structurally and institutionally perpetuated inequalities that Black people are experiencing across the UK. Thankfully, these inequalities have spurred on the civic action of altruistic people with lived experience to create impact focused organisations that offer practical assistance and support to other Black people facing similar challenges in their own communities.
Our CEO, Bayo Adelaja, says: “over the past year I have been inspired time and again by the fantastic people that make up our community. Black people across the UK are grappling with challenges that are far beyond their individual control, wading through the institutional and structural challenges that come with being Black in Britain with passion and presence of mind to make a difference, through the organisations they lead, in the communities they live, in their families and friendship groups. I am better off for knowing our community members. We should all be so lucky as to come in contact with the resiliency exhibited each and every day by Black people living in local communities in the UK.”
What are the specific challenges Black people face and what does the research say about it? Our 2020/21 factsheet answers those questions, revealing data, trends and insights on the social, political and economic factors that limit Black people and Black-led organisations in the UK.
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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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Announcing our new factsheet: employment trends, income and civic participation of the UK’s Black population
Our recent research highlighted the social and economic factors that drove the creation of Black-led organisations in Britain. The social, political and economic forces that shape the experiences of these community organisations provides a body of insights that cannot be ignored, and we are excited to unveil a factsheet summing up our key findings.
Our factsheet contains data on employment trends, income, education and how civic participation uniquely impacts the Black community. These statistics help to illustrate the experiences familiar to Black-led organisations and their beneficiaries.
It is no simple feat to deliver impactful services while facing the same inequalities you are fighting against. It is our hope and aim to support these vital community groups as they work hard to remove these inequalities.
We hope these findings give you a better understanding of the complex backdrop of Black-led organisations and the communities they support. With deeper understanding of what is faced by the Black community, we can bring tangible change for some of the most underrepresented impact organisations in the UK.
If you would like to receive a copy of the factsheet, please sign up for our newsletter.
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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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Black-led organisations aiming to serve their communities often face the problem of providing impactful services on a very tight budget. In our research, having engaged with over 500 Black-led social enterprises and charities, we found the primary sources of funding are personal savings and personal income from employment with almost 60% of their stated income coming from these places. Including the racial wage disparity, Black-led organisations are doubly burdened by systemic inequities, as they work towards resolving social issues affecting their communities. With minimal resources to operate vital services, Black-led organisations often shut down due to financial pressures.
In advance of our report on the state of Black-led impact organisations, we spoke with 10 founders of who anonymously confided in us as we sought a deeper understanding of how they’re funding their work and what financial strategies they employ to operate their organisations.
The need for funding
Many of the organisations we spoke with expressed a need for funding to hire knowledgeable and experienced staff to perform important functions within the organisation. On average, Black-led impact organisations have an annual income under £33,000 with 60% of that income coming from the personal savings and salaries of the Directors. The interviewees said they relied on volunteer support or freelance staff to fill skill gaps. Some impact organisations had ambitions to fulfil broader service delivery goals, such as digitisation, impact measurement, increased personalisation of their offering, but could not afford to hire the right person for the role.
As most Black-led organisations are self-funded, access to other sources of income would help offset those costs from their personal income.
The challenges of funding
Some of the organisations we spoke with found the process of applying for funding challenging because their internal structures and capacity were not prepared to face the scrutiny of the assessment criteria. One interviewee expressed frustrations about a lack of understanding of the process, meaning funding was a barrier and not a tangible opportunity for them.
Others spoke about the convoluted steps in applying for funding, investing additional time and effort with funders, only to be denied funding at the very end. Positive referrals and the halo effect from past successful funding applications also made the funding process simpler for some organisations further down the line. However, the positive recommendations can be challenging for organisations to attain in the first place if they cannot succeed in the initial application process.
Financial strategy 1: Consulting
In our discussions with Black-led organisations, some explained how they partner with organisations requesting their services and insights through the form of workshops or talks. By providing expertise and valuable services to soliciting firms, these impact organisations can generate revenue to fund their work. Doubly, through those connections they have the opportunity to function as ambassadors and thought leaders in a particular space (whether that’s a social issue, healthcare, education, etc.). This gives the organisation leverage as a renowned voice, and opens the possibility of future engagements with that firm or other similar firms later down the line.
Financial strategy 2: Grant funding
Several organisations we spoke with had attained grant funding in the past or were in the process of applying for grants. In our survey of 500 Black-led organisations we found that only 40% of them had ever received grants to fund their work. The types of grants and reasons for applying all varied, but the common thread was the expressed need for the grant to support vital operations, or core costs, within each organisation. Though grant funding is available, the process can be especially protracted and challenging for Black-led organisations seeking much-needed funding to continue or include basic functions within their organisations.
Financial strategy 3: Branded merchandise
An entrepreneurial route these impact organisations explored is the creation and sale of branded clothes and products to fund their mission. The items sold are tied to the organisation’s values, with the proceeds going towards the organisation’s operational budget. The motivation behind entering into this area was found to be based on the hope of galvanising their community to purchase products to support the work. However the low profit margins and the increasingly at-risk income streams of the immediate community means that the success of this method is much more work than the income it provides would warrant.
Funding for the future
As Black-led organisations grapple with the challenges of running their organisations, funding their work is a persistent concern, with many organisations facing financial pressures to meet their goals and serve their community.
There is a catch 22 when it comes to funding Black-led organisations in the UK; the corporatisation that funders seek from an organisation, or as one interviewee termed it, the “halo effect”, requires a significant amount of core operational funding for investment into strong hires, branding and marketing, website development and much more. However, there are very few opportunities across the social investment sector to gain core funding and those opportunities are typically reserved for organisations that have already achieved “the halo effect” to begin with.
We believe people with lived experience are best suited to deliver the solutions to their community, but they can’t resolve those issues without suitable access to finances. This is one of the key reasons our grant is entire core funding focused. We prioritise the continued activity and future sustainability of Black-led organisations because we recognise the impact their support has on the health, wealth and future of the communities they work in.
In our report, Stories from the frontline, we discuss the state of Black-led organisations and what civil society can do to help Black-led charities and social enterprises succeed as they stabilise and seek to scale to meet the growing demand for their services.
Please see the report below: