“It’s all about funding. Our organisation has a great heart. It wants to do good work and wants to help people and it needs money to do that… But there’s all this push and pull from funders.”
Practitioners shared that even if their organisations really wanted to embrace strength-based work, they felt that the pressure their organisations were under to get funding often compromised their work as the funding requirements didn’t match the way they worked. The demands and requirements of funders and commissioners could include having to get lots of intrusive information from people, having tight timeframes to work together or having to work towards specific outcomes the person had not chosen for themselves or which focused on deficits. People felt this really impacted on their ability, and the organisation’s ability, to truly be strength-based despite a real passion to work differently. The majority of funders and commissioners, including those where strength-based working is detailed within their service specifications, continue to measure success and performance via outputs, deficit outcomes and data reporting. Working to organisational or funder targets overshadowed the goals or targets determined by the person themselves.
Practitioners, even those who felt that their organisations really understood their work, still felt that the pressure from funders overrode the commitment to strength-based working, meaning that they were unable to work with people on their terms.
“It seems like managers are applying for funds, you know, right and left and they think after the fact ‘alright, how are we going to adopt that?’ and it doesn’t work because we still need to be marking the outcomes of the council that they want us to meet.”
Some practitioners even questioned if strength-based work had been brought into the organisation just so that they could attract additional funding.
“I guess sometimes I feel like my organisation uses our services kind of lip service like, hey, look, we’re doing this really cool new thing.”
Strength-based working is often compromised by funding linked to traditional reporting and outcomes targets . Organisations and commissioners could work together to understand this better and to create strength-based reporting and outcomes frameworks; practitioners and people they are working with could support this process. Therefore funding for strength-based work needs to focus more on funding the way of working, not the term.