A diagram of the panel format and function showing how everyone inputs and shares

Weeknote 3: explore our prototype funding cycle

By Jane Dodson 8 September 2022

A peek inside NPC’s Open Philanthropy programme.

This week I’m delighted to share our first prototype for our funding cycle, a summary of the process we have been through to create it and to also invite your input.

Collaboration and Process

So good to spend time at NPC HQ with colleagues working on our design for our grants process!

Prior to the workshop we reviewed the many different elements or mechanisms of open philanthropy we have discovered so far. These were given a RAG (red, amber or green) rating.

Green indicates that there is every reason to include in our process. Amber needs more information or discussion and Red elements are those that would be difficult for us to incorporate into our cycle due to programme constraints.

There will be space to include all the emerging practice and elements we weren’t able to incorporate in the toolkit we produce later in the programme.

Naomi created workshop participant packs out of the green, amber and some of the red methods. Working with external consultant Jen at Feel Good Do Good we prioritised these using the MoSCoW prioritisation framework. It was great to meet in real life! We covered the walls of the boardroom with what we Must, Should, Could and Will Not include, working with teams drawn from across the organisation.

The process threw up all sorts of questions and dependencies which enabled us to focus on a specific process and what we would ideally have at its heart, and following further discussions and refinement, we have drawn up a draft plan.

How our funding cycle could work

Central to our draft process are two groups of people, or panels, that comprise people with lived experience, informed practitioners, funders, and researchers/policymakers. Each panel could be responsible for half of the grant funding (approximately £250k).

A diagram of the panel format and function showing how everyone inputs and shares

Similar to a Citizens’ Assembly approach, these groups will consider a range of evidence to identify key priorities. They will also co-design the fund, how it will be delivered, and make the final grant decisions.

We are keen to involve those who may have less visibility and those who are seldom heard and so we plan to ask known actors in this sector, for example those whom we have come across in our financial hardship research, to nominate someone onto the panel that they know of that could bring insights and experience to the process.

We could then ask the nominees to each nominate someone else too. In this way we would hope to extend the reach and opportunity for involvement. This will be especially important in recruiting experts by experience, whom we are likely to reach through organisations that already have trusted relationships.

Full support and accessibility will be key to all those participating, whether that be producing materials that are well designed, easy to digest, multiple languages including sign language, meeting in fully accessible venues, managing expectations and providing support to those who have both been part of a similar process before and those who have not. We will reimburse participants for their time.

Our timeframe, in our draft we suggest three gatherings of the two panels. The first would be in September when the delivery process will be defined further and draft priorities set. In October, the priorities will be finalised and published, and any application process opened. Then a third gathering will take place to make grant decisions. An advisory board including wider stakeholders will also input and act as critical friends throughout the process.

A process flow could look something like this:


Download our process flow

Open Philanthropy Process Flow (PDF, 50.2 KB)

Size: 50.29 KB


Crucially, throughout the process we will be working in the open, with a feedback loop ensuring that as we broadcast what we do and how we do it, and taking on board insights from both an advisory board and wider society.

The diamonds are decision points, tagged to the relevant actions.

What do you think?

Do you think this could work well? What are the potential pitfalls? What would you do differently?

Would you like to be involved, either to provide evidence, become an advisor or nominate a panel member?

If you’d like to find out more or have any questions, please use the comments section below or get in touch with me directly Jane.dodson@thinknpc.org by Tuesday 2nd August. Thank you!


Image credits to J Lowthrop, Feel Good Do Good