The Power of Global Networks - Blog Series

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Linking grantees to other changemakers increases impact and influence

Background to the Women’s Fund for Scotland
The Women’s Fund for Scotland (WFS) is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls across Scotland.  Since its launch in 2002 the WFS has been funded directly from the Scottish Government through the Equalities Unit. Until recently this funding has been quite stable.

Working with the Government
We have been able to work well with the government in both delivering their objectives related to equality and ours. We have been very conscious however of gaps in this funding (no funding for younger women and girls) and the risks of working to the government’s agenda. We are also conscious of the risks of being dependent on one single source of funding for the majority of our work.

On the positive side this support has enabled us to award more than one million pounds in grants to over 500 very diverse projects, in the past 9 years. These grants have focused on supporting the development, self- sufficiency, and economic and social equality of Scotland’s women. In addition, we have been able to raise our profile across Scotland and promote the work of the groups that we support.

Multilevel Networking
Scotland is a small country (5 million people). Because of this size, we have access to and are able to meet informally with Members of the Scottish Parliament through a range of networking events. We are also able to interact with and inform local government about the wider issues affecting women in Scotland and what local groups that we fund are doing.  As a result of this networking, both local government and national governmental agencies have become more aware of how our support for community groups in their areas has improved people’s lives. This also means we have had input into how government policy has met or not met women’s needs.

Facilitation of networking and collaboration
In order to increase the capacity of the groups we fund, we offered our grantees the opportunity to participate in a networking day. This enabled them to explore each others work, make new contacts and form collaborations for future work. The feedback was very positive and for many smaller organisations it was their first chance to see what groups outside their immediate geographical area were doing. We are hoping to facilitate more such events in the future.  

In March 2009, we embarked on a proactive collaboration. We commissioned the Scottish Community Development Centre and Community Health Exchange to carry out research into how a range of governmental and charitable agencies work with the issue of teen-age pregnancy in the city of Dundee which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in Europe. This included investigating the determinants of teenage pregnancy such as self-esteem, confidence building and sexual health education. The research also looked at collaborative working between public sector agencies and voluntary sector organisations and the support for young people to influence strategies and activities that directly affect them. The report was distributed to all the agencies and groups in the area. The feedback was that facilitated networking and the resulting collaboration was very welcome. Again we are looking at other opportunities to engage in this role. The risk here is that we are seen as ‘outsiders’ and perhaps using our funding to promote a specific view, rather than act as facilitators.  

Pam Judson, Advisory Panel Member and Grants Panel Member
The Women’s Fund for Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland
Women's Funding Network member since 2004

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