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Mary Rose Gunn: Supporting Small Charities to Thrive

In this episode we speak to Mary Rose Gunn, Founder and CEO of The Fore, about why small charitable organisations are so valuable and how they can be supported to thrive.


  • How did The Fore come about, and what does the organisation exist to do?
  • Is there too much competition and not enough collaboration in the charity sector? Why is this?
  • How can we design more collaborative approaches? What kinds of resources and infrastructure will this require?
  • How can philanthropic funders collaborate with the public sector more effectively?
  • Do small charities have unique value (i.e. compared to larger ones?)
  • Is one of the biggest barriers to philanthropic funders supporting small charities simply finding them in the first place? What can we do to overcome this barrier
  • Why is core cost funding so important for small charities and civil society organisations?
  • What do small charities tend to use the money from core funding for?
  • Should all small charities be aiming to grow and achieve scale, or is this not always the right goal? How can an organisation know?
  • How important is resilience for small charities? What does this mean in practice?
  • How big a challenge currently is burnout for leaders of small charities?
  • What is required to make core cost funding work from the funder’s point of view?
  • Is part of the problem with the “overhead myth” that donors want some measure of the effectiveness of their giving, and in the absence of compelling evidence they are forced to rely on unhelpful financial measures like overhead ratios? What can we do to provide them with better metrics?
  •  What challenges do current grant application processes present for charities?
  • Does this particularly disadvantage smaller organisations?
  • When making relatively small grants, how do you maximise their impact?
  • What additional support beyond just the money do small charities need? How does Fore provide this?
  • What is required to make skilled volunteering work effectively?
  •  What kind of due diligence do donors need to do on small charities in order to fund them in a trust-based way?

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