09 —

This week continued similarly to how I began last week’s Weeknotes, rightly dominated by the waves that have rippled out from George Floyd’s murder — conversations with friends, lots of reading and listening, donating money each day to different Black initiatives. Black Lives Matters UK is nearly at their initial target, so put some money in today if you can.

I’ve heard from some of my People of Colour friends that the zealousness of white people at the moment can also be wearing and galling. For this reason, I really liked this tweet thread by Tatiana reminding us that this is a long haul.

“White people: We gotta talk about burn out. You aren’t conditioned to be thinking about race this much because of your privilege. We need you to do all you’re doing today, tomorrow, and until the end of time. Let’s talk about ways to focus on current & systemic change.”

There’s some great advice in there like —

  • You can’t learn everything right now. Make a list. Learn to find the answers yourself before asking. Take the time to actually look it up. Read multiple sources. Sit with it.
  • Build Black authors into your life, fiction, non-race-based non-fiction.
  • Do recurring donation — make long-term commitments around redistributing wealth.
  • Evaluate what your long-term commitments to this work are. Build vocabulary to address racism. Figure out your “if they do this, I will do this”.

At work we’ve been ensuring Black colleagues know they can take time off, paid — I can’t even begin to imagine the mental, emotional and physical toll of the injustices of who Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted alongside the George Floyd murder and everything that surfaces.

It’s important too, for organisations to be really clear — as our Advisory Board member Fozia Irfan said yesterday — that anti-racist work is not the same as diversity, equity and inclusion work.

Big news at The National Lottery Community Fund this week was Dawn, our CEO, announcing she was leaving. She definitely deserves a recalibration in her life. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to lead an 850 person organisation, with a great deal of public scrutiny, for 7 years. And whilst I have been working relentlessly (roughly 18 hour days) the last 10 weeks, I wonder if Dawn’s had any sleep at all. I’m very sad she’s going, but look forward to the next 7 months and what might be possible in that time.

What I’ve been doing

  • Continuing to do funding work — reading proposals, writing proposals, calls with potential applicants. Since April 1st we’ve now awarded £50,292,318, which is an increase of £12.4m (33%) on last week. Since April 1st, we have received 11,084 applications in total and last week we received almost 800 applications for the Corona Virus Community Support Fund, making a cumulative total of over 1,200 in the week. Since April 1st, we have funded 852 new grantees, 62% of which are micro and small organisations.
  • Lots of ‘team’ things this week. Objective setting with the people I directly line manage as they all need doing by the end of June. We had our first weekly Show + Tell as a whole team too, which was great and will become a regular Thursday morning activity. I’ve set up a slide deck template and each team will add in to it each week as a way of sharing across the team what we are all doing —which is a lot — International, Climate Action Fund, Emerging Futures Fund, Digital Fund, Key National Fund as part of our Covid response, Operations and ‘any other business’ which this week was John sharing with us the work he’s doing across the fund on equalities and equity.
  • We also had our UK Committee meeting this week, which happens once a quarter as part of our governance. On the UK Committee we have someone from each of the Country Committees, alongside the Chair and Dawn, and they are our ultimate decision-makers when it comes to funding. We gave an update from different parts of the whole portfolio and I also ran a session with them about our plans for the rest of this financial year, which they were happy with. So that’s a relief!
  • Dan Lockton joined my team to do a session on ‘Public Imagination’ all the way from Pittsburgh in the US. It was great and I’d really recommend reading more about his work, and using his open tools on creating metaphors. I especially loved the question below that Dan posed in one of his slides. It’s so true, and there is so much in this world that we seem to have been unable to really move the dial on.

“Why are we finding it so hard to do anything about _______________?”

Slides from Dan’s session.
  • On Wednesday I was up at 5.30 am to speak at an event in Australia about ‘New Models of Care’ convened by the Sydney Policy Lab, Martin Stewart Weeks and the Paul Ramsay Foundation. I’m going to write a separate blog post about that, but in the meantime, I finished my talk with the below quote.

“Such work should be long, because it takes time; broad, because it reaches out; deep because it is about what matters in life and tall, because it aims for higher goals.”

Dr Martin Luther King

  • Later in the day we held another Loss Circle as part of Stewarding Loss, this one focussed on the experiences people had of endings being well designed. And the next morning I was up at 5.30 am to do another International event for States of Change (where I am on the Faculty) for their Learning Festival. I ran a workshop on Stewarding Loss. Again, I’m going to write this up as a separate blog post, but we had great feedback and I was impressed by the Miro board sketching people did! Lots of helpful ideas, insights and questions about the work that will help us move it forward.
Miro board that we used for one activity during the workshop.
  • On Thursday I dipped in to call with the Narwahl group — am still on my pursuit of trying to identify the best approaches to use for developing systemic narratives and better narrative practice in civil society. I still haven’t found it!
  • I also dipped in to our The National Lottery Community Fund Advisory Group meeting. I always think how lucky we are to have such a great group challenging us, asking good questions and helping guide us in our work.
  • On Thursday we had the third event about Bridges to the Future that we’ve been doing in partnership with the RSA. This has been a group that’s rich in thinking but has remained tentative (or I have) about *what* it is. Much of this session was us exploring the tensions of this, and I was glad at the end we landed on a mostly shared view that this group should continue the work, should actively sort out the diversity in the group, and to be growing our potential for acting together for when the time is right.
Slides from the RSA session.
  • I had two meetings on Friday morning about the Funders’ Collaborative Hub, one with the ‘design’ group and one with the wider delivery group. There is now a really helpful clear statement on ACF’s website about what we are doing.
  • Each month I get to have an hour with the 4 country Directors, catching up on what’s happening in their different contexts, which is really important for me in my new role. On Friday I heard from Kate about what communities in Northern Ireland are experiencing and the various programmes of work that the Northern Ireland team have in train to be able to respond. I have to give a special shout out to Amanda in the Northern Ireland team, who had a big Birthday this week. ❤️ I then had a similar call with Neil in Scotland. I’m very grateful for these colleagues and their generosity!
  • Friday afternoon was our regular sense-making session that Hannah and I co-host and always joined by Graham who leads us all through the sense-making process. I wrote for the corporate blog about this work and have two more being published over the next week about what we are learning.
  • At the end of Friday afternoon I spent 90 mins chatting to Dan Burgess (and we could have gone on for longer!) for his podcast, The Spaceship Earth. It will be out in a few weeks. I loved the far ranging things we covered from loss, grief, the cycles of nature, collective consciousness, imagination, social and racial justice, funding and more.

I’m skipping the ‘What I’ve Learned’ section this week as I’m going to write up the Stewarding Loss workshop and the talk about New Models of Care.

What’s been important

  • It was great (and important) this week to finally agree on our ‘design’ focus for the Funders’ Collaborative Hub which is — ‘How do we, as funders, set our priorities for recovery and renewal in order to maximise our collective impact by understanding needs, designing strategy and making decisions more collaboratively and interdependently?’
  • You can join Rachel, Iona and I next Wednesday eve at this event. As Rachel says — “In the week Zoom announce privacy is only for paying customers, Slack partners with Amazon, and ingrained, systemic and brutal racial injustice is in the spotlight, it’s vital that broader civil society helps shape rights-respecting, transparent and just uses of tech. Join us.”
  • At Roanne’s memorial I gave people rose plants to take away with them. Bright pink was a favourite colour and Rose Orange was the name of one of her projects — the one that had brought us together. Each year now I get people sending me pictures of their Roanne Roses in bloom. I planted mine in my Mum’s garden here in Cambridge, which is where I have been staying during lockdown. It’s been lovely to see it bloom over the last week amidst all the pain, grief and rage out there in the world.



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Cassie Robinson.

Cassie Robinson.

Working with Joseph Rowntree Foundation, EarthPercent, P4NE, Policy Fellow IIPP, Co-founder Point People, Founder Stewarding Loss, International Futures Forum.