Friday, 3 June 2016

Funding Central Goes Subscription

Just received an email from NCVO who run the (until now) free Funding Central database in the UK.

They try to make a reasonable argument as to why an online database of trust funding donors that has been free for the past seven years now requires users to pay for it:

For the past seven years NCVO has delivered Funding Central under contract to the Cabinet Office; the Cabinet Office ended their funding of Funding Central on March 31 2016.
NCVO recognise the vital importance of Funding Central to the voluntary sector and are committed to continuing it. But to keep Funding Central running we need to replace the Cabinet Office funding.

At first I thought 'Oh, well, that's awful that the Cabinet Office pulled their funding, how sad.'

Yet, the further I read, the faster I feel sympathy slipping away.

  • Since 2009 nearly 100,000 users have registered
  • Carrying out hundreds of thousands of completed funding searches
  • Our weekly funding update emails have been opened nearly 8 million times
  • Our users tell us we save them on average three hours of work a week
  • Our users told us in our recent survey they secured on average around £18,000 from funds found through Funding Central last year.

Really? 100,000 registered users? 8 million bulletin reads? Three hours of time saved a week?

And you turn round after it's all over and say 'Oops, sorry'?

At 100,000 petition signatures, a topic gets debated in parliament.

Nobody who can avoid it is going to pay for a service that has been free for years when they weren't even offered a chance to fight for it. As a business woman, I'll subscribe through one of the small charities I work with who are not eligible to pay (under £100,000 annual turnover). Large charities can go through small charities. It's not mean, it's money smart at that point. 

But I would have lobbied my MP, I would have signed a petition, I would have tweeted shame down upon the Cabinet Office had NCVO given me that opportunity. Had they utilised their membership base. Had they organised a campaign. Had they said something before the funding ran out.

But, oops, sorry.

This from an organisation whose webpage banner reads 'We're stronger together.' What's the point of massive membership if you're not going to mobilise them?

Some role model for the voluntary sector that is.

I've just tweeted them to find out how much an automated online database costs each year. I'll post the reply if and when.

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