Since then, one organisation (the one with 2 projects) suffered 6 weeks staff sickness and had to drop out, and another stepped forward. Expert commissioners from six organisations (three local authorities, two well-known charitable funds and a healthcare commissioner) came forward to hear the presentations and offer advice, and I gave one to one coaching each month to each of them.
I think we all came to the second workshop, the one where innovative projects had to present their cases based on what they’d learnt, and where the expert commissioners were to offer advice, with trepidation. I didn’t sleep the week before.
The projects spent the morning sharing what they’d learnt and other tips for approaching funders. In the first half of the afternoon the projects presented their cases, and the panel didn’t stint in their criticism and suggestions for improvement. For the second half the projects went to one room to consider the process and what they’d learnt, and the panel went to another to summarise their advice. A very instructive day!
What would I do better another time?
- Give the projects time as individual teams to consider what they’d learnt before sharing it (this worked really well in the first workshop in March)
- Introduce the panel of expert commissioners at lunchtime and before the presentations, which would have made it less formal and more personal.
- The projects were all selected as “hard to fund” – I think the panel were expecting ‘bread and butter’ proposals presented in a ‘bread and butter’ way, whereas gathering and presenting the evidence is difficult for real innovation. I hadn’t made this clear.
- Right now we’re preparing a written report to help innovative proposals who weren’t able to attend this programme. I’d like to run more programmes because it delivered so much value to the projects