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Empowering charity partners

How the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity empowers charity partners to help people improve their lives

The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity supports hundreds of charities across the UK who are working with some of the most marginalised communities in the country. It builds partnerships and provides funding to other charitable organisations that work with young people, prisoner reintegration, an ageing population, education and culture. But how do we work with our partners and what are our ambitions for the future?

Charity Landscape Report 2019, Charities Aid Foundation

The Goldsmiths' Company Charity is a grant funder. Small and large grants are awarded several times a year and are funded through the income on the Charity’s endowment. Grant funding enables many charities to meet increased demand for their services, stepping into areas that the state has vacated in recent years due to cut backs. 

Staff at YoungMinds during World Mental Health Day ©YoungMinds

Jo Hardy, Head of Parent Service at the charity, YoungMinds, says that the grant from the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity has been fundamental to helping the organisation deliver their vital freephone helpline service to parents and carers who are concerned about their child’s mental health.

“Increasingly we’re hearing from more parents concerned about their child’s wellbeing: we’re hearing more severe cases, and parents often only contact us when they are at breaking point,” says Jo. “So, the grant from the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity has enabled us to offer support and advice, information and signposting, to incredibly desperate parents, and make sure we get them the timely support they need, empowering them to support their children, look after themselves and access a whole range of services.” 

Part of determining where the money goes is about really understanding the needs of the charity and what works best for them.

Ciorsdan Brown

Ciorsdan Brown, Head of Charity Partnerships and Strategy at the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity says:


“We should be listening, trying to understand what worked, what did not and what we can all learn from it. This is especially true when it comes to core costs, which requires a level of trust between funder and grantee.”

Core costs are the overhead costs of an organisation, as opposed to those specific to delivering a project and have become an area of increasing need for charities. But it can be the least attractive to funders, who often favour investing in projects and programmes rather than core costs.

“Many grants that we receive are purely to do with projects,” says Tony Jameson-Allen Co-Founder and Director of Sporting Memories. “But it’s the core capacity that’s essential for us to thrive and survive. And its grants, such as the one from the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, where there is the ability to increase our core capacity, that is essential for our sustainability and to continue the work that we do.”

The Goldsmiths' Company Charity reception, 2019

Looking to the future Ciorsdan says the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity has ambitions to become a more progressive funder and to bolster its grant-giving by building partnerships. This means utilising all the assets the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity has available in order to support our charitable partners with more than just grants. The Charity will endeavour to be even more transparent about its processes, what it funds and why and, crucially, to share learnings from its partnerships. This approach includes working more collaboratively with other grant funders to improve impact and make life easier for charities. 

For example, in 2019 the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity embarked on a new partnership with Islington Giving, a community-centric coalition of funders, businesses and individuals, contributing £90,000 over three years to tackle the effects of inequality in Islington by supporting young people, families and the elderly in the London borough. Ciorsdan concludes:

“In challenging times it is key that we look to the wider context of the work we are doing by understanding what charities are experiencing on the ground and what other funders priorities are, working jointly with them where we can. We believe that by making these connections, joining the dots and listening to charities who are working hard on the frontline, we will better fulfil our own objectives to help people improve their lives.”