Developing a Regenerative Futures Fund #4 — Emerging Questions and Thoughts from Organisations

Leah Black
6 min readDec 12, 2022

Reminder — what is the Regenerative Futures Fund?

I am working with some hugely inspiring people to try to create a new long-term (10-year) trust-based unrestricted fund for social sector organisations in Edinburgh, centering genuine participatory decision-making, trying to bring new money into the system, working on transformational change towards our big shared goals of ‘ending poverty and reaching net zero’ in Edinburgh by 2030. This is the Regenerative Futures Fund for Edinburgh.

Learning and Designing Together (and how this is going)

I’m feeling very lucky to be working with a small group of facilitators with our different learning groups:

  • Mhairi Reid — with our Experts by Experience — End Poverty Edinburgh Members
  • Talat Yaqoob and Shasta Ali — with a group of representatives of organisations working in Edinburgh (group still to be formed)
  • Suzy Glass — with our Funders Community of Practice

I’m also working closely with Patrycja Kupiec from Turn2Us Edinburgh Trust on a model of organisations and individuals moving from surviving (with short term funding and support) to thriving (with long-term funding and support) — Edinburgh Trust would like to move to a model of longer-term support for individuals via referral partners and we plan to try to develop this approach together — and see where it takes us.

We have a date planned for 2023 in February where the 3 x learning groups above + some other specialists will come together with Matter Of Focus- Ailsa Cook and Sarah Morton + team - to work on collective outcome mapping for the new fund for organisations, and considering what the outcomes for a long-term funding for organisations would look like alongside long-term support and grants for individuals — via Turn2Us Edinburgh Trust.

Much more to say about lots of (exciting!) things including ‘time machines’ and possible ‘imaginariums’ and getting people out of today and short-term mindsets and into the future and imagining what better futures might look like. And of course — how we can match future visions with resource to try to make these happen, led by communities.

That’s another blog for another day! But big thanks to Rob Hopkins for sharing his ‘time machine’ facilitation guide which I tried out at the EVOC conference and again at the Thrive Conference in November. Anyone interested in getting involved in this type of work, drop me a line as we hope to develop this in early 2023 — in-person and online.

What Questions and Thoughts are Coming Up?

  1. On long-term approaches and big goals:
  • It’s a no brainer. Bringing the two things together poverty & net zero. They have to go hand in hand.
  • An ambitious and worthy goal worth striving for.
  • Not sure ending poverty is a realistic goal without major structural changes.
  • Applaud the intention to invest in long term prevention of poverty rather than short term measures to alleviate the symptoms of poverty.
  • Something drastic needs to be done to transform the funding system as it is fundamentally flawed.
  • Despite discussing child poverty, inequality, and climate challenges at least for the past 30 years, due to the lack of coordination and strategic thinking, we have not brought the change we aspired to achieve.
  • Laudible and aspirational but 2030 is only 7 years — do we need something more achievable.

2. On short-term-ism and its effects:

  • Too often projects are granted funding for start-ups or pilots and even though these might be successful, there is no option for continued funding. This means that the project must fold leaving vulnerable participants with no support and sometimes in a worse position than they were initially.
  • Lack of reliable unrestricted income has made the voluntary sector less secure, innovative, and short-sighted.

3. On forms and reporting:

  • The funding forms and reports should not be time consuming as it takes time away from the really vital and necessary work that the project is delivering
  • You never hear what has been done with reports or evaluations and time us limited for must organisations. This was limited and minimised during the pandemic and a godsend fir most people.

4. On equalities and participatory approaches:

  • Every big body organisation must have a separate entity of BIPOC that speak in behalf of and represent the BIPOC communities needs, as well as have separate pots of money that meets the needs of those communities.
  • Participatory decision-making (and participatory budgeting) can be ‘tokenism’, involves the ‘usual suspects’ and is often done badly.

5. On ‘new money’ on the basis of wealth in Edinburgh:

  • Social bridging finance, public funds, City Deal and UK Shared Prosperity — in the mix.
  • Mobilising financial support from the private sector.
  • Should not done for the wrong reasons such as greenwashing.
  • Edinburgh is not a wealthy city but a hub for private banks, private schools, merchants, and people who should contribute to the community more — this is an opportunity to ask the institutions mentioned above to play their corporate social responsibility in a meaningful and sustainable way.
  • This may be hard to do during a cost of living crisis and when inflation is running high.

Out & About

There are many things that I’m loving about my current role working on this project — but the main one has to be meeting lots of interesting, clever and experienced new people and meeting them by cycling to different places in the city. A few pics — can you guess the locations?

Snaps from Edinburgh cycles — going to and from meetings

What’s Next?

From January 2023 organisations who noted an interest will be invited to an online session with Talat to talk more about what a fund like this should look like and the difference it could make and how we collectively make it happen. We will also propose before xmas break that we work with a smaller group of organisational representatives.

Our Funders Community of Practice has met twice and will continue to meet in 2023 supported by Suzy, and our Experts by Experience from the End Poverty Edinburgh members group will begin to meet regularly with Mhairi from early 2023.

Then we think about collective outcome mapping (Feb), designing the fund together, an application, assessment and reporting system, coming up with something that is the best we can make it factoring in the perspectives of members of each group.

And the big one — raising around £15million to launch the fund, and to make a commitment to a group of organisations for 10 years.

As always I’d LOVE to talk to anyone who would like to help, join conversations, can share experiences of any elements of creating something like this (good or bad), etc!




Leah Black

Lead, Regenerative Futures Fund Edinburgh; Chief Executive, Whale Arts; Warden, Incorporation of Goldsmiths; MBA student, Edinburgh Business School.