I suffer from early onset funding stress. I confess. Its in the to do list in January 2016, find funding for January 2017, its in the to do list for June- start worrying.
Its probably from being involved and employed in the type of youthwork projects over the last five years that all require charitable giving, or grant funding to keep them, and thus my own employment going.
But i start to worry too early. Actually I probably get consumed by it. too consumed.
What i also do is try, probably legitimately, to reshape organisations and activities for an organisation as a response to the responses to the funding.
However, this doesn’t tend to work. Because, generally the prevailing culture eats small youthwork organisation strategy for breakfast. Whether thats bigger organisation that holds power, cultures of generosity in churches, cultures of employment or education bodies, cultures of funding bodies and the restrictions on them. Change can be required, but not all change is necessary.
Adapting an organisation to these requires a small shift – educating or challenging the barriers in these cultures is huge.
The early onset funding stress can be an adrenalising factor, focusses the find, for example I sent off 4 funding bids three weeks ago. A real sense of purpose and sense of achievement to send them. And newsletters to churches, and new campaigns to give people ‘opportunities to give’, hey at least the work we do at DYFC should be inspiring enough shouldnt it… – well I guess no not always- depends on the prevailing culture yet again.
However, back to the point, worrying about funding is constant, and yes I know while i have a job i am in a privileged position and all that.
When is it too soon to worry? Maybe it’s never too soon when as a manager there are other peoples employments, livelihoods and welfare at stake also – this time, for example, its not just me, or not just me and my family that have this uncertainty to deal with.
For me, worrying about funding is worse when I don’t know the situation, having up to date figures, and access to the accounts, all helps to be able to make interpretations of the funding situation, i would hate it if i had no idea of the financial situation before it was too late, and if you’re in an organisation where the accounts, budgets and funding isnt made aware to you as a worker, then i would be questioning why and getting hold of it, especially if you also have managerial or funding responsibilities. Even if someone else does the fundraising, decision making and responsibillity lies with the managers. But even not as a manager id worry as the worker- because id want to know what the situation was – and start worrying too soon.
The problem with early onset funding stress, is that there is no immediate predictable cure.
Fundraising currently in the youthwork world for the small organisation is almost as unpredictable as last seasons premier league champions. Its an unpredictable art, for essentially art is what the youth worker perfoms, and it only when that art is appreciated, valued and sought after that people then pay for it. And, unless serious charging occurs, charities require those who value the art to contribute, rather than those who directly benefit- though in truth all do benefit in society.
Yet i know i have been guilty of not paying donations at ‘free’ museums. Not appreciating the effort that goes into the performance of art.
Being real about the current situations, if the politics of situations is the prime reasons why youth workers leave posts ( especially in the faith sector) – then restrictions of funding contracts has got to be up there as a close second. Its part of the profession, part of maybe its character as it meanders under the radar, helping young people between the structures. And in that territory, funding doesn’t come easy, even for the well set up organised charity.
What does faith look like when funding stress starts to take hold? Faith
Faith that people who havent given will do so? faith that churches or charitable trusts will give , who might not have done in the past? faith that other employment opportunities will arise for employees who have been asked to leave? or yourself?
or is it faith to cope in and amongst it all and retain some kind of dignity and integrity?
Faith that God will provide over and above – which is a tough one to be at peace in at times.