The future of funding systems for projects like Rural Wisdom

A labour of love

Getting funding to support community development projects, like Rural Wisdom, has often been an un-paid and precarious labour of love. Many hours are often spent shaping a project to meet a particular set of criteria, filling in forms, gathering evidence and calculating budgets for a potential funder, that either doesn’t lead anywhere or leads to a project being funded that doesn’t quite do what it initially wanted to. 

Changing currents and new opportunities

But in recent years this approach has begun to change. Traditional funders, whether government bodies, corporate organisations, private bodies, or charities, have begun coming together at local levels to work with communities and fund projects that are important to them.

These changes had begun taking shape prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many cases the forums and collaborative bodies set up in local areas were seldom known about at the community level. During the pandemic this changed as the way we, as a society, connected with one another changed.

Meetings, gatherings and informal get togethers moved online; a move that saw previously siloed activities of different sectors become connected to one another in a way never seen before. For Rural Wisdom, this opened a world of new opportunities. Development Workers, who are the conduit between local communities, funders, and larger organisations, were able to join meetings online that they previously couldn’t.

“…we started doing things that we didn’t have the time to do before…we made new connections going to meetings that for so long had been siloed, because we suddenly had the time. I’ve been to meetings with corporate lawyers, private sector organisations…it’s been eye opening.”

Opening connections in communities

In Moray, the Development Worker’s presence at these online meetings and sharing information about things that are happening in the rural communities, particularly about community transport, has led to different funding bodies, including Moray’s Funders Forum, approaching them about the ways they can support current projects and develop new ones

…what they [the funders] are doing is coming together, and instead of people applying for funding, they are looking around and going ‘oh that looks like an interesting project’, maybe a few of us can go in and have conversations and see if we can help or connect people to other funders in other areas, to make sure that the community developments in COVID, and possibly beyond, can get long term funding.”

These connections that have been made by Rural Wisdom’s Development Workers during COVDI-19, looks to be leading to new systems of funding being a possibility for projects like this now and in the future. Systems which will lead to truly community led projects being supported and projects that are already in place having the long-term future they deserve.

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