Developing a Regenerative Futures Fund # 7 — Feedback From Our Gathering

Leah Black
6 min readMar 21, 2023

On 9th February in the beautiful Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh a group of around 45 people gathered together, in-person, to spend a day talking and thinking about long-term change, the difference we are all trying to make.

The purpose of the day was to begin to create an ‘outcome map’ — a theory of change for the Regenerative Futures Fund — and to consider what difference a long-term fund for individuals might make — and finally to think about the bigger system for long-term change.

The day was facilitated by Ailsa and Grace from Matter of Focus.

The participants were from our three learning groups + some additional specialists with skills that we thought would be useful to have on the day.

A reminder that our learning groups are:

  • End Poverty Edinburgh Members Group
  • Funders Community of Practice
  • Organisations Learning Group

More here about the learning groups and the plan for the day (before it happened)

We are still working on refining the 5 (!) outcome maps we produced on the day + another 2 outcome maps we created as part of a separate but connected group called CAPE (Coalition Anti-Poverty Edinburgh). And further refining and sense-making of these will happen in our learning groups.

Much more on this soon…

For now I wanted to share the feedback from the day. It felt like a big undertaking making this happen, in-person, and trying to make sure we had a diverse mix of people in the room — but so worth all the careful planning to read how people felt. There are quite a few things that we will need to think about for next gatherings, and areas we can improve based on the feedback.

What you liked?

  • Diversity of organisations mainstreaming together.
  • Having my mind blown.
  • Stimulated by conversation, multiple facilitators.
  • Positive energy, keeping to time/breaks, consistent/simple process and framework, table about ‘how we will work’.
  • The whole shebang.
  • Getting together, space to think, explore and learn. Thinking big. Learning from others.
  • The sessions allowed all participants to take part.
  • Diverse group, belief in change.
  • Group discussions, moving from group to group, learning about other views, stories of success, outcomes cards.
  • Nice space and lunch.
  • High energy, opportunity to work in smaller and larger groups, really good mix of people and perspectives in the room.
  • Beautiful 3D people who gave it all they had.
  • Lots of room for conversation, passion and enthusiasm in the room, involvement of End Poverty Edinburgh.
  • The diversity of voices, the experience in the unknown, the End Poverty Edinburgh input, the sense of shared mission.
  • Opportunity to connect with a wide range of partners invested in change in Edinburgh.
  • Very dynamic session, well managed by facilitators, everyone had the chance to participate. Enough breaks. Great food.
  • Fantastic diversity of people and ideas. The ambition for systems change and transformation in ways of doing things. A really rewarding day.
  • Facilitators were great. Pace was good. Content — great. Strategy — good — collaborative. Regular breaks.
  • Networking. Stories.
  • The opportunity to listen and discuss.
  • Group work.
  • Great mix of people. Plenty of mixing groups.
  • Connecting with others. Space to hear others thoughts. Being part of something very exciting. Good programme timings.
  • Being with a wide range of people/orgs in person. Funders also present including Scottish Government.
  • The variety of people involved. The collaborative atmosphere.

What could have been improved?

  • Working as a group (too loud often)
  • Sounds ridiculous but pastries on arrival, in case you didn’t get breakfast.
  • Ways to send in thoughts you didn’t get a chance to share.
  • Perhaps the framing of the day — however this is me being picky.
  • I should have gone for a walk at lunch.
  • n/a (I thought it was fab and spot on).
  • Longer for discussions, could have been longer or 2 day session?
  • More interaction between groups, more examples of innovation and good practice from communities in Edinburgh and elsewhere.
  • Break day into two days to improve energy? Generally nothing to improve but for climate impact consider doing the forms electronically.
  • Quite a lot to pack in but worth it.
  • Not much. Too early for now.
  • Could perhaps have been more focused on the scope/reach of the fund — practical steps.
  • Maybe the last dynamic, felt a little bit repetitive. Maybe instead of moving to 2 other groups 1 would have been enough.
  • Sharing stories — could have all had 5 mins to share success so facilitators could note down key areas that might be the same.
  • Lunch timings. Hot coffee.
  • Everything was good.
  • It would be good if there were more BME organisations at the event.
  • May have been useful to use different groups for discussion — acoustics were quite noisy.
  • Introducing people when moved to new groups.
  • Biscuits at breaks!
  • I would like to know more about the individual organisations invited maybe as emails?
  • Group sessions in different rooms.

What have you learned and gained from today?

  • Connections, wisdom, knowledge of different perspective.
  • Connections, navigation, ‘it’s not just me’.
  • Tensions between micro and macro lens to the challenges (not new learning but this was surfaced).
  • Re-learnt the power of a room like this.
  • There are like minded people in all sectors. Hope.
  • There is so much creativity in Edinburgh we need to work harder for Scottish Government and City of Edinburgh Council to work with us and help us be part of the solution.
  • Deep dissatisfaction with funding model.
  • Awareness of poverty issues.
  • Challenges of how to run a funding process. Great opportunities for this initiative.
  • The importance/value of events like this. The stress levels are very high in 3rd sector orgs due to funding anxiety.
  • Learning about all the work happening in Edinburgh. We already have the minds and resources we need to succeed.
  • All funders need to commit to learning.
  • Really helpful to know more about the fund. Opportunities to think creatively.
  • Some great people I want to talk more to! The complexity of the challenge. The opportunity to do better and meet the challenge.
  • More about national and local context. Motivations, opportunities and constraints of organisations committed to change for people and communities.
  • Networking, getting to know other projects.
  • New contacts. Refreshed desire for bigger picture approach.
  • Learnt that lots of people have the same views as me about failure of the current system. Hope — realised people want change and it can happen.
  • Wider understanding of other groups business models that are effective for sustainable growth.
  • Lots of information and ideas.
  • Learnt loads. Super interesting conversations.
  • Lots! Plenty to go away and think about about what other orgs are already doing that’s different.
  • I’ve met lots of new people and found out about even more wonderful organisations in the city.

Is there anything you would do differently as a result?

  • Think about how my org could do better in terms of climate change and options through services provided.
  • Not so far. Feel like Regenerative Futures Fund / Funders to respond to but I really appreciate stepping into messiness.
  • Really liked the process, being mindful of this in my own practice.
  • Time machine.
  • Challenge it more.
  • Aim to break out of silos. Find myself in thematic and geographical & place based (networks).
  • Use plain English more and less jargon. Build in language that reflects the values esp compassion and concern for people.
  • Consider who to connect into what. Really loved the listening to lived experience exercise — listen deeply more!
  • Consider how to empower people with the skills to be activists.
  • Good just to be conscious of broader themes in our day to day work.
  • Explore our funders footprint in the city and implications for shifting to longer term, unrestricted funding here and more widely.
  • Advocate for more systemic change. Offer to be involved in this — it’s very exciting.
  • No, I really enjoyed it and feel contributed to the discussion fight harder. Believe in a better city.
  • More people from different groups to invite.
  • A reminder to focus on the people behind the numbers.
  • Use connections made to inform practice and increase knowledge.
  • Try and take time again to do this thinking in a facilitated space.
  • Not really. I would like to see this kind of collaboration to continue.



Leah Black

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