Thinking about providing local grants?
A guide for Districts or Counties who are interested in providing financial support to their groups.
Making the case for providing local grants
This guidance was originally created in 2020 in response to the Coronavirus pandemic which really highlighted that both inside and outside Scouting, some communities are more financially resilient than others. The Coronavirus pandemic fundamentally changed how many organisations think and operate, and it highlighted businesses, charities and other organisations that operated on the smallest of margins with little in the way of meaningful financial reserves for when problems occurred.
At the same time, Scouting has for many years worked hard to open new Groups in harder to reach communities, where the membership fee and activity or camping fees that many established Groups charge are just out of reach of too many families. If we truly believe that all young people deserve a chance to take part in Scouting, we need to think fundamentally about how we make that happen, and that might mean we need to think about a new operating model.
Districts should be engaging with their Groups and sections to truly understand their needs. What is their financial operating model? What can they afford to charge as a membership fee? Does this stop them accessing other activities? How can the District, or other Groups help them to ensure young people are not put at a disadvantage because of money? Our default position should be “How do we ensure as many young people as possible get the best possible programme experience and what support can we offer to make this happen?” This includes financial support.
One possible outcome of this discussion is that as a District you agree to provide grant funding to some or all of your Groups, but you don’t have capacity to do this through the District Executive. In this case you might agree with the County Executive that you will contribute to a County administered fund along with other Districts which Groups (from across the County) could apply to; however, in accordance with POR 4.67e any funds raised by your District must be ring-fenced for use for Groups within your District.
One crucially important matter to contend with straight away is the matter of equality vs. equity. In Scouting we always want to be fair, and be seen to be fair. But being able to provide grants to Groups is not really a matter of equality, i.e. giving the same level of support to every Group. Grants are predominantly about providing extra support to those that need it, so they get the same opportunity as everyone else, i.e. equity.
If you're in a position to support local scouting financially, the next stage is to be clear on what you can actually do.