Want to Make Social Impact Quickly and Efficiently? Fund Grassroots Groups

Grassroots groups are often on the frontlines of social change. From the climate crisis, to LGBTQIA+ rights, to Black Lives Matter, it’s often small groups of dedicated volunteers that take responsibility for organising, educating, providing for their communities and shifting the dial on the issues that matter most.

They have a huge impact. But it could be much bigger.


Why fund grassroots groups?


There are many reasons why funding grassroots groups is a worthy investment, but here’s our top 3.

  • Grassroots groups are often closest to their communities. They understand the needs, wants and nuances of their local area or community, and often have lived experience of the issues they’re working to solve. That means they are well-placed to develop tailored, effective and community-led solutions.


  • They are able to respond quickly and adapt to evolving situations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a rapid rise in mutual aid groups popping up to provide for the most vulnerable in their communities. They were able to act much more quickly than charities or local authorities that had to work within bureaucratic structures, or pivot from 5-year strategies.


  • They are able to do a lot, without much. If you want your money to go a long way, invest in a grassroots group. They are experts at making the most of limited resources, galvanising volunteers and achieving incredible results with small budgets. Just imagine what they could do with proper funding.

Failures of the funding system

So you’re convinced. Funding grassroots groups is a good idea, but how do you actually do it? 

Unfortunately, grassroots groups don’t benefit from the current funding system. Funding applications often require significant time, specialist expertise and insider knowledge of the funder. Many grants also require applicants to be ‘incorporated’, meaning they have a legally-recognised status, such as being a registered charity. 

This means that funding usually goes to better-resourced, incorporated organisations, who have fundraising teams, with the time to put into these processes. Charities spend £900m a year on costs related to applying for grants from charitable trusts and foundations. How can a small group of activists ever compete? 

Not only does this system not work for grassroots groups, it doesn’t work for funders either. Many of the funders we know are frustrated by the bureaucratic systems they have to navigate in order to distribute much-needed funds. The systems in place mean we’re all losing out on the potential of grassroots activity. 

Is funding grassroots groups risky?

So what about risk? Is it risky to fund grassroots groups? If you know us, then you know we have a lot to say about the ‘r’ word. Check out our recent blog for London Funders to hear our thoughts. But the topline is:

Rather than just focusing on the risks of giving money to grassroots groups, we need to start asking: what’s the risk of not giving money? And let’s stop using risk as a reason to not do it at all, but instead start thinking about how we can do it in a way that minimises the risk as much as possible. 

Funding grassroots groups through The Social Change Nest

fiscal hosting, grant management and grant distribution services are all designed to make it easier for funders to fund grassroots groups, with minimal administrative burden for the groups. 

We take the risk management off your plate, by handling the due diligence, onboarding and set-up processes, as well as providing budget management and reporting support for your grantees. 

We’ve worked with funders including Blagrave Trust, Plymouth Octopus and the Urban Movement Innovation Fund and since 2020, have helped distribute £16.5 million to changemakers across the UK and globally. 

But don’t just take our word for it. Hear what the funders themselves have to say about funding grassroots groups through The Social Change Nest…

“The Social Change Nest have been a key partner on our journey to funding young people directly. Their fiscal hosting through Open Collective has been a great asset to our work funding non-constituted groups of young changemakers. The ability to take the admin burden off the collectives, paired with transparency of cash flow allows us to keep financial reporting to a minimum and allow the young people we work with to focus their time and energy on their social justice work.” – Callum Pethick, Blagrave Trust

“The Social Change Nest provides a unique way for funders to back committed people and groups doing dedicated work to help their communities.” – David Graham, Changing Ideas 

“It’s been heartening, and heartbreakingly obvious, to see how changing the plumbing of funding (the ancient, fixed and hidden pipework that dictates flow and direction and was built by people removed from current realities) has allowed capital to be redistributed in different ways to different groups […] this is one of the great and enduring benefits of The Social Change Nest.” – Joe Doran, Lankelly Chase

November 21, 2023

Are you a funder looking to support grassroots groups?

Book an intro call with our team.

Recommended reading from our blog

How Funders Can Support Collaboration: Plymouth Octopus

A guest blog on funding collaboration from POP.

The Social Change Nest Response to the dissolution of Open Collective Foundation

Statement in response to the dissolution of the Open Collective Foundation.