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Annual Report 2018/19

Income and fundraising

Firstly, we would like to say a huge thank you to all of our funders supporters this year – from grant givers large and small, private donors, and adult volunteers and young people We are incredibly grateful for your brilliant and continued support.

As a new independent organisation with an equally new fundraising and communications team, we have taken time over the preceding two years to build our fundraising systems and processes. In 2018-March 2020 we consolidated this into a fundraising strategy that focuses on four key audiences: community and parents; major donors, grants and foundations and income from site rentals. Alongside this we identified a clear set of priorities to raise funds for, including our open access provision and street-based and targeted support teams.

There are no easy wins, but this work has started to pay off with some real successes in the year. We developed a funding pipeline of over 80 grant funders, trusts and foundations and established relationships with a number of them. We submitted 18 grant applications with a value of £1.64m, (including an ambitious holiday food Lewisham-wide partnership bid to Department for Education for £799,000).

Eight of our bids were successful, totalling £446,276. We were the only organisation to secure two highly competitive Young Londoner’s Fund bids from the Mayor of London in 2019- for an innovative carnival project at Woodpecker Youth Club, and personal safety programme for young people across all sites, both over 3 years.

Whilst we were unsuccessful with our DfE food bid, we were thrilled to secure £40k in-kind support from Lewisham Council, supplied by Chartwells Independent caterers to deliver the Holiday Food Programme across our sites last summer. This enabled us to provide a hot meal and a snack to every young person taking part in our summer programme, helping to address holiday hunger in the borough. Feedback from young people, families and partners was extremely positive and addressing food poverty is part of our ongoing plan. Alongside this, young people and volunteers at individual sites, notable The Dumps, ran local fundraisers to support holiday fundays.

An emerging challenge however is that our current status as a Mutual Benefit Society means we are ineligible for a significant number of trusts and foundations, who limit their funds to registered charities. We plan therefore to address this with a change of status to a charity by 2021.

Using our new donor prospectus and some careful research, we were delighted to secure a generous £30k donation from a private investor in the autumn for mental health sessions for older young people at Riverside. Spurred on by this success, we hope to extend our donor fundraising, although we recognise that this is hugely time-consuming to research and maintain.

We developed a new Donations button on our website and text giving service, with suggested levels of donation related to our priorities. We also signed up to Easyfundraising, although both of these have been slow to take off and require a new focus in 2020/21.

Our more sophisticated data collection and mapping of need in the borough means we know with more certainty how many young people we reach, at which centre, how often they come, what they do and better where there is unmet need. We’ve been able to use this to demonstrate our effectiveness and to support funding bids. We have also collected more stories, case studies, quotes and photos this year, telling a much more compelling story of the difference our work makes to Lewisham’s young people and families.

We have grown our Friends of Youth First scheme, with over 1000 people signed up and willing to help us, receiving regular newsletters and texts about our offers and campaigns. Some of these people have become Youth First volunteers, offering extraordinary support and enthusiasm. The challenge in the year ahead is turn this support into income.

Our communications and marketing materials have developed significantly, including effective ways to reach our audiences online and through social media. We reached over 29,000 people in Lewisham last summer with our Facebook Ads for the summer holiday schemes and visitors to our website have more than doubled, with almost 11,000 unique users across July and August 2019.

As we see a reduction in funding from Lewisham Council, the need for successful alternative income will grow. To this end we hope to invest in our income generation capacity in 2020/21 and beyond. We are acutely aware of that there will be an inevitable impact of the Covid 19 crisis on the availability of funding from all sources next year and for years to come. Precisely what this will be is however unknown. We do know that as an organisation, we will need to direct funding priorities to supporting the children and families we work with and meet those agendas that society and funders deem most important. These are likely to be health, education/employment and law and order as part of the likely national recession. We will adapt our fundraising strategy to this new landscape, continue with Charity Commission registration, strengthen our impact evaluation and develop a new funding case for support. We will continue to nurture existing funder relationships and develop new ones, working from the strong base we have built in the past year.  This will however be a very challenging time and it will need everyone to think about and be involved in our fund raising effort including being ready to adapt our work to meet what will be far fewer income opportunities.