Mark Livesey, Partner and Business Development Director
"I had always wanted to get involved with a charitable organisation but the point of entrance had been difficult to find."
As the country plunged into lockdown last year, we all had that feeling of what can we do to help others. Support for small charities had never been greater, so when LGT Vestra partnered with The Fore and an opportunity arose for some of our people to volunteer, it was a no brainer to get involved. Initially, a number of us threw our hats into the ring without really knowing what we were letting ourselves in for. The Fore brings together funding and professional expertise to support small charities, funds are pooled together and distributed to the chosen charities via a funding panel. The Fore normally provides grants of up to £30,000 to high potential small charities. However, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, The Fore changed its approach to offer smaller grants of up to £5,000 each to more organisations, to help them overcome the challenges of the pandemic and keep them operational. During this time, The Fore saw a surge in applications for funding, and from March to July 2020 they provided 241 grants amounting to a total of £1.1million. It was during this unprecedented time that I had my first experience of The Fore, sitting on a funding panel discussing several small impactful charities that were in need of support.
Funding panels have been described as a combination between Dragons' Den, jury service and an investment committee. Although initially daunting, it was a very rewarding and humbling experience. Ahead of the virtual panel, detailed reports are sent to each panellist with an overview of the charities being considered. These charities have been filtered from a huge number of applicants and are presented by assessors. All the charities were incredibly worthy of funding and therefore making the decisions as to where the funds should be directed was really tough.
It was during my fourth funding panel that I was introduced to the charity Mindsum. This newly created charity immediately made an impression on me. Their mission is to understand, support and treat young people that are struggling with poor mental health. The development of the charity had been driven by the Founder and CEO's personal experience of struggling with accessing appropriate information or expertise. They are determined to find ways to help children and young people improve their mental health and wellbeing, using technology to deliver the appropriate care. As mentioned previously, I was introduced to lots of fantastic charities, but what set this organisation apart was its ambition and ability to deliver on scale due to the tech focus.
When asked about working with both The Fore and seeking professional help, Mindsum said, "The Fore grant is a massive help for small charities who without this assistance may not have been able to sustain themselves. With this grant we are able to make sure that children and young people with a mental health condition are not left behind.
For our small but growing charity, the help of professionals on a pro bono basis makes a real difference. The Fore helped us connect with professionals, like Mark Livesey, who gave us some valuable advice and key insights that are crucial for the success of our project. It was not just traditional advice, rather, looking at the project from a different perspective and evaluating what would and wouldn't work. This is a significant contribution towards our mission and ultimately creating an impact on the lives of children and young people suffering from mental health illnesses".
Working with The Fore and now Mindsum has exposed me to the impact we can have alongside our 'day jobs'. Financial donations are critical to the long-term sustainability of all charities, but the gift of time and expertise can have a far greater impact.
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