Here at the Trust, we are working to reimagine our grantmaking: to put the community at the heart of our decision making and create meaningful participation a core element of our work. 

This forms the backbone of our grantmaking strategy, alongside a strategic commitment to improving the outcomes and lives of young people locally.  

In 2022, we piloted a Community Collective model as part of our commitment to becoming a participatory grantmaker. 

A Community (or closed) collective model is a type of grantmaking partnership that involves a small group of organisations that have come together to pool their resources and expertise. Collectives can be more effective than traditional grantmaking partnerships because they allow organisations to build deeper relationships and to share knowledge and experience.  

We chose to pilot a closed collective model for a number of reasons: 

  • We believed that it would be a more effective and impactful way to support youth organisations in Stratford-upon-Avon. 
  • We wanted to shift power to the community and to give youth organisations a greater say in how grants were awarded.  
  • We wanted to learn more about the collective model and its potential benefits.  

We invited five organisations to participate in the community collective model: Escape Arts, New Meaning Foundation, ILEAP, Lifespace Trust, and Warwickshire Pride. These organisations were chosen because they have a proven track record of working with young people in Stratford-upon-Avon. We also committed an initial £100,000 towards this collective – ensuring that it had the foundations to build something meaningful from the start.   

Despite their strengths, the five organisations also had some challenges to overcome. They had limited experience working together in a strategic way, they had different financial operating models, and they had different views on what success could look like for young people, the collective, and themselves as individual entities.  

Moving through the Stages  

The first step for the five organisations was to build trust and relationships with each other. They did this by meeting regularly, sharing information, and working on joint projects. As they got to know each other better and more deeply, they began to develop a shared vision for the Stratford Youth Collective – a new independent youth organisation they aspired to develop, in partnership.  

The next step was to develop a strategic plan. The plan outlined the Collective's goals, objectives, and strategies for achieving them. It also included a budget and a timeline for implementation. This work was supported by an independent facilitator – an essential component to help challenge motivations and decisions, unpick and explore challenges and help keep the collective on track to realising its aspirations and goals.  

The final step was to implement the strategic plan. The Collective began by developing and delivering programmes and services that meet the needs of young people in Stratford-upon-Avon. They also continue to explore and build partnerships with other organisations in the community.  

So far, the pilot has been a success. The organisations have worked together to develop and deliver programmes and services that have benefited young people in Stratford-upon-Avon. We're pleased with the progress and learning that is being generated and are committed to continuing to work with the organisations to improve the lives of young people in the community. We have a long way to go in this partnership, but we’re excited about the direction we are heading in together.  

There is so much more to come from the Stratford Youth Collective. Stay tuned… 


The Benefits of a Community (Closed) Collective Model  

There are many benefits to a closed collective model. These benefits include:  

  • Increased community engagement  
  • Improved decision-making  
  • More effective use of resources  
  • Increased collaboration  
  • Greater impact on the community 

Collectives can also help to:  

  • Build trust and relationships between organisations  
  • Share resources and expertise  
  • Learn from each other  
  • Create a more collaborative and supportive environment  

These benefits make community collectives a valuable tool for improving the lives of young people and the communities they live in.  


The Future of Community (Closed) Collectives  

Closed collectives are a growing trend in the world of philanthropy. These models are being used by foundations and other organisations to address a variety of challenges, including youth homelessness, mental health, and substance abuse. 

If you would like to know more about our work and vision, please do contact me – I would love to chat. To find out more about Collectives and Participatory Grantmaking please check out the following articles and links as a starting point: