People Powered Change – one year on
By Linda Quinn, Director of Communications and Marketing, Big Lottery Fund.
In March 2011 we announced that our funding in England would be driven by what we called People Powered Change (PPC).
In developing this approach it became clear that we also needed to start to develop how BIG operates and engages as a funder. To this end we started some thought provoking work with David Wilcox, John Popham and Drew Mackie under ‘Social Reporters’ that is documented on a blog here.
This included a workshop with some of those people with ideas and a shared interest in this area, informing a paper to our England Committee on future ways of working.
The Committee supported the paper and as a result we are developing a number of ideas which we hope will make us a more engaged, open and social organisation. I also hope it will help us support projects to share their stories, inspirations and ideas.
So what’s changing? Well perhaps it’s better to say how we’re evolving…
Going social – we had some very good advice here from Tom Phillips, that if we wanted beneficiaries of our funding to share their stories and impacts then we needed to start doing a better job of that internally ourselves. BIG Connect is an internal online network that we’ve created to enable just that. We’ve also started to implement some tools around social reporting – a good example can be found here from an event our Eastern Regional team held. There’s still some more work to do here but we’re attempting to make sure that we make efforts to extend our reach beyond those that can attend our events.
One of the key learnings from this work is the rich experience and insight people are willing to swap and share. We’re looking to draw on this by crowd sourcing ideas on how we can best map where our funding goes and the impact it makes. This will be a feature of our new website (launching in the summer) which will provide greater opportunities for projects to share their stories and for us to support them. Perhaps it can be extended to other funds and investments?
A clear message from our work has been the need to provide support for projects so that they are better placed to tell, share and learn from stories. Our regional teams provide outreach support and surgeries for our grant holders and have used games to help communities decide how to spend funding.
But it is clear that there is a role for something more focussed on social media that gives projects the confidence and skills to blog, tweet, film and report on their project. This feels like it could fit under our broader Building Capabilities offer but I sense it needs to be something more formal than that. So we’re going to test some of these approaches with projects funded under our Silver Dreams Fund and the Jubilee People’s Millions.
In a future world I’d love all our evaluations and grant management to be socialised so that stories and impacts are available to the armchair auditors, enthusiasts and others working in similar areas – this very much reflects the open data work we blogged about here at our joint event with NCVO and Nominet Trust. Such a social approach not only shows the impact of National Lottery funding but also provides an opportunity for projects to promote and showcase what they do, share and inspire others.
We’ll also develop our focus on some place and people based initiatives that strongly reflect People Powered Change. For example, our Big Local Trust investment recently announced a further 50 areas that will receive at least £1million for local communities (around ward size) to decide how they wish to spend that money over a ten year period. This is taking decisions out of central committees and into local communities and giving them the space and time to make those decisions.
People Powered Change informs a way of working that will develop overtime and we’re keen to continue to hear what others are doing, where we can share and where we can learn. And talking of sharing, you may recall that in March last year we also announced a number of awards under People Powered Change. These were to UnLtd’s, ‘Big Venture Challenge,’ Young Foundation’s ‘Building Local Activism’ project, Media Trust’s ‘Newsnet’, NESTA’s ‘Neighbourhood Challenge’ and Your Square Mile. We’ll be publishing a blog from each of these over the next week or so updating on their activities, investments and learning.