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Posted by CCORRN on Wednesday, 11 April 2012 in General

Funding versus Environment & Community Benefits

In these tough economic times, government departments and local authorities are increasingly under pressure to do more with less and cut spending across the board. This is understandable and could potentially lead to a more streamlined, efficient and transparent public sector. 


By their very nature, local and regional community reuse and recycling groups tend to be small to medium size independent not-for-profit organisations and although they can achieve a great deal with limited resources they remain reliant on government and local authority grants. This dependence can have very serious consequences. 


Unfortunately, many excellent initiatives can also fall foul of budget cuts as many cases are reviewed with short term savings rather than longer term wider benefits in mind. 


It is often difficult if not impossible for a small not-for-profit organisation to have the opportunity to put forward rational arguments to those who are reviewing budgets “before the deed is done”. Frequently, such organisation feel left out of the process and feel that they are simply not being heard – a David and Goliath situation.


So what might the solutions be?

Firstly, should we encourage grant providers and funders to work smarter when looking at budgets and consider the wider and longer term benefits and potential repercussions of their actions. For instance, if the project is based on recycling does it have addition benefits such as:

  • Help towards achieving European and Governmental recycling targets.
  • Lessen the environmental impact of our actions and deliver against the climate change directives.
  • Increase awareness and educate the public as to the benefits of recycling and “make it simple” to do the right thing.
  • Have direct and visible benefits to the public and community – particularly those most in need.


And if the initiative where to cease what would be the public perception and longer term impact as well as the cost and resource implications of trying to reinitiate such a programme at a later date – after all, much of the skills and resources would no longer be in place and would need to be started again from scratch.


Secondly, the community and recycling sector should consider working in partnership wherever possible in order to achieve a “larger share of voice” and be heard above the crowed. This is frequently more difficult than it sounds with organisations having their own agendas and problems which distract from seeing the wider benefits of collaboration. It is important to bear in mind that apart they could be vulnerable but together they could achieve great things by sharing skills, resources and experiences and substantially increasing the profile the work.


Thirdly, spread the risk by looking for more than one source of funding. This could be from seeking sponsorship and/or grants from private sector foundations.


All comments, thoughts and further ideas would be most welcome.


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CCORRN is a partnership between the community, public and private sector that was started in early 2003. Financial support was awarded to Cambridgeshire County Council for its establishment, from DEFRA's Recycling Challenge Fund and Enventure.

CCORRN's goal when incepted was to successfully increase the quantity of community reuse and recycling projects in the County. CCORRN is now a Company Limited by Guarantee with its Directors made up of volunteers from all the sectors involved. One full time staff member is employed as the 'Community Recycling Network Organiser' to carry out the work programme set by the Management Committee.

In the second year 2004, the network continued to build upon the first year's success. This included providing 'Seedcorn' funding for project start ups as well as holding events, workshops and visits to allow the dissemination of knowledge and best practice. By assisting groups in defining/developing and bid writing they were able to secure additional funding to develop and expand their operations.


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