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What have I been doing this week?

  • As per the last few weeks I spend a large proportion of my week working on our Covid-19 funding response. There are two parts to my work in relation to this — working with a small team, working at pace and focussed on vital, strategic grants in the shorter term — this involves calls, inputting into papers, attending decision-making panels and so forth. I’m then also leading on some future focussed work — developing funding strategy for the medium and longer-term. This also links to the Scanning & Sensing network my team has set up across the fund.
  • Related to the above I’m the funds link person to a new Covid-19 Collaborative Funder Hub, initiated by Caroline Mason, Paul Streets and Carol Mack and situated in ACF. We had our first project delivery team meeting this week and I’m working on design of the approach alongside Duncan from Lloyds Bank Foundation and Anna from Dulverton Trust.
  • I was meant to be in Thailand this week, taking part as a speaker, alongside Lucy Bernholz, in the World Economic Forum — Preparing Civil Society for the 4th Industrial Revolution event. Instead we did the event online. I shared work that we are doing at The National Lottery Community Fund in response to Covid-19 through a technology, digital and data lens. I also spoke about Catalyst, Glimmers and the Collective Action Labs.
  • One of the biggest attractions of my new job was leading the team where our Climate Action Fund sits. Nick heads up CAF and is our climate expert, and I was glad to link him and our work up with Climate KIC this week. They are an organisation I know well, who have been doing brilliant things for the last 10 years. I particularly like the Deep Demonstrations work and they’ve also been doing work around movement building. Lots for us to learn from, and coordinate our work with.
  • Another real attraction of the job is that I get to work across the UK, and with all 4 countries. That now means a regular catch up with Kate (Northern Ireland Director), Neil (Scotland Director), Elly (England) and John (Wales Director) — which started this week. There’s lots for me to learn about the different contexts that we work in (I feel I have a head start with Scotland having lived there, and obviously England) and a core part of my role is to ensure that the UK Portfolio is useful to all of the other portfolios.
  • I did a couple of different presentations this week — one to the Senior Management Team and then to the funds Advisory Group about the Scanning & Sensing Network and the future-focussed funding strategy.
  • We convened a group of organisations all doing interesting insights work — Joseph Rowntree Foundation, The Relationships Project, Local Trust, Young Foundation — with a view to doing a larger convening and intentionally linking up with the narrative and strategic communications community. As a group we’ve got insights from communities across the UK, but it needs channeling to those with expertise in influencing public feeling.
  • On Thursday I co-hosted Funders Learn Tech with Rachel and this months guest, Dr William Isaac (I am a big fan). The theme was Race + Tech and Rachel had some great questions and I’ll be writing up a blog this weekend. I’d also recommend William’s most recent paper on how community participation can improve fairness in machine learning.

“Automation can expose bias and unfairness in really stark and uncompromising ways; is this the case with racism?”

“Given racism and discrimination has been such an ingrained part of Western culture, do you think it’s possible to get to unbiased data sets and algorithms? Can technology help to shape or change culture and society, or is it shaped by it?”

  • There are now 36 people signed up as part of the Scanning & Sensing Network. People try to do 3 interviews a week, a longer reflection activity on a Thursday and then Graham joins us for the collective sensemaking on a Friday. We are using the Three Horizons framework, using Mural to map what we look out for —

In Horizon 1 : signs of things not working, causing concern, problems building up for the future;

In Horizon 2: what’s changing, what’s different, how today’s present is not the same as the old ways;

In Horizon 3: hopes and aspirations for the future, dreams of how things could be if we recover to a ‘new normal’, build back better etc

And: Horizon 3 in the present — signs of hope that this is possible; Horizon 1 in the future — the good things about the past that we don’t want to lose.

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Part of today’s sensemaking session.

I’m always disappointed if my Weeknotes are just a list of what I did, without any insight about what I’ve learned, but I’m just too tired this week! Sorry 🤷🏻‍♀️

Written by

Senior Head, UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund & Co-founder of the Point People. Previously Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone.

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