Learning & Participation Strategy 2022-2023

Barking & Dagenham Giving is pleased to announce the publication of our first ever Learning and Participation strategy where we articulate our bold approach to grant-making.

Since 2020 we have distributed over £200,000 in grants using participatory means and aim to at least match that amount in 2022/23. While we’ve published a number of blogs and spoken in various places about our work, we have never laid out our approach to learning and evaluation.

In this document, you will be able to read about our approach to grant-making

Why we do the work we do
What our works entails
How we will execute and assess our Learning and Participation Strategy

This strategy is the culmination of over two years of experience in the borough, an attempt to consolidate everything we have learned by placing participation at the heart of what we do.

We are eternally grateful to everyone whose wisdom and energy have helped us create this document and hope that it stands as proof of our commitment to root our work in the communities that we serve, and not only an insight into our work.

At first glance, BD Giving is a grant-making charity. It is true that we do give out grants but these are a means to a bigger end. We believe that participation is the way that our borough becomes stronger, by ensuring that power is made accessible to everybody. We do not think we are the only vehicle for participation but part of a growing wave within the borough that is demanding different ways of working together. This strategy outlines what we see as our contribution to that wave, and how we will know if we’ve made a difference.

Pathway 2021-2022

2020 was a year of rapid development for BD Giving. In just a year it has gone from a pilot project hosted by the Council to an independent charity with a simple belief: the people affected by funding decisions should be the ones making those decisions.

By the end of 2020, we had involved over 50 local people in making decisions, shared 17 local people’s stories, shared our experience and learnt from others via local & national networks, and distributed over £185,000 in funding to local causes. We ended the year with the groundbreaking announcement by the Council for the transfer of £900k (from the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy) to BD Giving to set up a new Community Endowment Fund from the Neighbourhood Community Infrastructure Levy to create the Community Endowment Fund.

The last year has shown that we are stronger when we work together, and our Pathway 2021-2022 presented here sets out the steps we will take to continue and expand our collaborative work.

Our 5 Priority Areas

Click on each priority area to find out more!

Our aim is to further embed the use of stories to amplify all local voices, showcase our community’s drive and passion, as well as to evaluate our own successes and failures.

We’ll take a participatory approach to the drafting of an investment policy for the Community Endowment Fund, giving local people the tools they need to define the process for redistribution of the Fund’s yields.

ConnexUs is a partnership including BD Giving, BD Collective, BD CAN, BD CVS, and Barking Enterprise Center. It will focus on supporting small equality-led organisations working with those people hardest hit by Covid-19.

We will recruit a new colleague to support our grant-making activities and provide administrative support to mobilise both the Local Fund and the Renew Fund. This will enable us to distribute grants worth £250k to local organisations in 2021

As part of our ambition to understand how social change occurs, we will develop a learning strategy that takes an iterative approach, testing concepts and amplifying what works.

So what does this mean?

We know that the process we use to get to the future is going to shape the future we get in return. As a place-based funder embracing power sharing, we see our role in the borough is two-fold:

  • stimulating or amplifying the voices of citizens; and
  • helping to nurture a diverse, independent, and inclusive social sector.


Through the five priority areas outlined in this document, we will set ourselves on the right path to enable our community to take more ownership in the changes ahead.

While important in their own right, we believe that each of these priority areas must happen alongside the others. We can’t be genuinely participatory if we don’t embrace a culture of listening and learning, we can’t deliver our ambition to increase support for the community if we don’t grow our organisational capacity, and we can’t build genuine partnerships and collaborations if we don’t demonstrate a high level of ethics and transparency.

We are determined to progress at pace across each of these priority areas, to transform the way we address the borough’s most pressing issues, for the benefit of Barking and Dagenham’s communities.