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Rethink, Rebuild

Five ideas for our post-pandemic future

Charities and funders have changed faster in this pandemic than we could ever have imagined. We now have an opportunity to rethink how charity and philanthropy works and rebuild together as we emerge from our shared covid crisis. Click To Tweet

The covid-19 pandemic brought about a host of changes in the experience and practises of charities and funders in the UK. We set up Rethink Rebuild to find out what those changes are, which changes helped make charities more impactful, and how they could be continued.

Through workshops, conversations, and our NPC Labs site this first phase of Rethink Rebuild has brought together the voices of over 300 charities, funders and others in the social sector. We have also reviewed evidence about the sector which emerged during the pandemic, as well as other initiatives already underway to support change in the sector.

Through this first phase we have identified five major cross-sector changes which could be continued to help make charities and funders more impactful and effective in delivering their missions, and be instrumental in recreating the social sector people need in the long-term.


Five ideas for a more progressive charity and philanthropy sector

Rethinking strategy

A more systemic approach to developing strategies: Covid demonstrated how the inequalities in our society are structural and systemic, whilst also providing fresh impetus to work together. It’s clear that none of us can achieve our missions alone, so we need a more systemic approach to strategy, through which we consider root causes, partners, and strategic coordination with others.

Read more: Systems strategy
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Rethinking collaboration

Embedding equity in collaboration: The covid crisis has shown the importance of collaboration, and the need to embed greater equity in all that we do. For those denied access to power and resources, partnerships can be unavailable, inaccessible, or inequitable. Time and money will always be an issue, so we must address the unequal starting point.

Read more: Equitable collaboration
people writing on board

Rethinking grant-making

Rebalancing trust and impact measurement in philanthropy: One of the biggest changes in the pandemic was the shift to more flexible trust-based philanthropy. Flexible funding is a welcome change, but impact measurement must remain a key feedback loop in the grantmaking cycle. We need to help funders navigate this changing environment so that money goes where it will achieve the biggest impact for those who need it most.

Read more: Impact measurement for flexible funding
food bank worker

Rethinking data

From shared data to shared intelligence: The pandemic revealed how difficult it can be to quickly determine what is changing, what is needed, and how to respond. Directing the right services to the right people at the right time through a rapidly changing crisis depends upon data being freely shared and easily accessible. We need shared intelligence that combines official government data with real-time insights from charities and businesses.

Read more: Shared intelligence
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Rethinking policy

A new social recovery: We need a new approach to policy, putting social recovery at the heart of our efforts to rebuild, rather than a sideshow to hard infrastructure. This should include tackling entrenched social needs like homelessness, mental and physical health, and racial injustices. This new approach should put the voluntary and community sectors and funders at the heart of rebuilding our local economies and communities, helping them to target their activity more effectively.

Read more: A new social recovery
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The charities and funders who came to our workshops have helped shape and guide these ideas, by telling us where they thought the most urgent changes were needed, and which ideas, models, and approaches they felt had the most potential to transform the sector.

But this list is by no means exhaustive. We’ve focused on strategic cross-sector changes, rather than on-the-ground delivery challenges. There were also some significant strategic challenges, like climate change, that we haven’t included in this first phase of Rethink Rebuild.


What next?

Rethink Rebuild will continue to be a collaborative process. Our next phase is about turning these five ideas into practice. We’re looking for more funders and charities who want to work with us to pilot and scale new approaches and share their experience to help us develop practical tools and guidance for more charities and funders.

What this looks like is different for each of the five ideas, and on each page you’ll see who you can speak with to get involved. Alternatively, if you would like to get involved in more than one strand, get in touch here.


Thank you

We’d like to thank everyone who gave their time and ideas to this first phase of Rethink Rebuild through coming to our events, workshops, sharing their ideas in NPC Labs, or publishing intelligence on the sector throughout the crisis.

We are grateful to the Gatsby Charitable Foundation for supporting this work.