Involving beneficiaries helps us use people’s knowledge to decide what to fund. After all, the people that we fund are often best placed to understand their need and how to address it.
The three main ways that we can involve beneficiaries are by:
- consulting individuals and groups about the shape of new programmes – like we did for Talent Match in England
- involving beneficiaries in decision-making committees – as in the Young People’s Fund
- giving communities control over priorities and decisions – such as for Fair Share and Big Local
Benefits of beneficiary involvement
Whether it’s by better addressing needs or raising awareness, beneficiary involvement can bring numerous benefits. These can include:
- raising awareness of programmes and funding opportunities
- bringing new knowledge, experience and enthusiasm to programmes
- improving access to harder-to-reach groups and increasing the number of people consulted
- challenging existing thinking and changing the course of programme development to better meet needs
- enhancing public perception of programmes through public events.
While we recognise the value of involving beneficiaries in how we fund, it isn’t always feasible. Some of the challenges it can involve include:
- the complex nature of establishing representative groups
- the time it can take and the need to adapt existing processes
- being resource-intensive in terms of time and money
- training and support needed for beneficiaries involved. Their expectations also need to be managed.
Our research has demonstrated that there is no simple solution to beneficiary involvement: The best way to include communities in funding decisions can vary. We also know that the nature of limits to beneficiary involvement need to be clear to all parties.
More about the research
We commissioned IVAR in 2012 to investigate how we can involve beneficiaries in the best way. They looked at how funders involve beneficiaries, its advantages, challenges and how we can take it forward. The full report is available under Publications below. Appendix II includes a possible framework for involving beneficiaries in grant-making.
Beneficiary involvement report
Beneficiary involvement report: Appendices – including a framework for involving beneficiaries in grant-making