Oasis Play

Oasis Play

Fundraising and evaluation support for Oasis Play

Who are Oasis Play?

Oasis Play (Oasis) provides inclusive outdoor play and learning opportunities that enable disabled and non-disabled children and young people to lead happy, fulfilled lives and play positive roles in the community. Based in Stockwell, London, it runs three distinct facilities: a children’s nature garden, a youth-led go-karting project, and an adventure playground. All projects are open access and available for local children to attend after school, on Saturdays and during school holidays, and are supported by a team of experienced play and youth workers.

The need and A5cend’s involvement

Oasis was established in 1973, and has steadily grown over the years. For many years it only had one member of management staff, so found it difficult to deliver consistent services.

A5cend’s first involvement with Oasis was supporting it with a fundraising application to the Walcot Foundation. The application was successful and provided core funding for a project coordinator, helping to build the capacity of the organisation and doubling the number of people who could work on fundraising. A5cend subsequently worked with the project coordinator on lots of fundraising applications, including three Big Lottery Reaching Community bids, as well as applications to Sport England, City Bridge Trust, Children in Need and Comic Relief. The funding which Oasis secured through these has really helped it to grow as an organisation.

The ongoing development

Oasis’ fundraising success went hand-in-hand with the development of more sophisticated evaluation methodologies. When Oasis received its first Reaching Communities grant, it was clear that it needed to introduce more robust evaluation techniques. This was the first time Oasis had done any in-depth evaluation of its adventure playground. A5cend provided guidance on how to measure impact effectively and helped to develop and implement effective monitoring and data collection systems, as well as analysing the data and writing the evaluation report.

Working with A5cend on funding bids and evaluations has helped Oasis staff to develop their own skills, to the point that Oasis now has the skills and knowledge to carry out evaluations and write funding bids in-house.

Services delivered:

Policy review

 Budgeting support

Fundraising strategy

Funding bids revenue and core

Funding bids capital development and feasibility

 Fundraising training

Evaluation

Theory of change

“Getting help from A5cend with our Reaching Communities evaluation was the first step towards us building our own in-house fundraising and evaluation expertise. Before that, we had been collecting participant numbers and doing the odd survey when we wanted to apply for funding, but not much else. We got a grant, delivered the work, and filled in a basic monitoring form, but didn’t collect much data. It was largely a capacity issue, but also there were knowledge gaps around evaluation in the organisation. Securing funding for the project coordinator gave us the much-needed capacity, and we have learnt so much about evaluation from A5cend that we are now able to undertake our own project evaluations.”

“We had many years of peaks and troughs – fluctuating between getting a grant and everything being okay for a while, then grants coming to an end and having to make staff redundant. We existed very much hand-to-mouth, lurching from one funding crisis to the next, making it very difficult to retain staff and deliver consistent services. We needed to find a better way of stabilising the organisation and securing more sustainable funding.”

Where Oasis are now

Oasis is now operating on a much larger scale than when it first started working with A5cend and is much more stable as an organisation, securing longer-term funding that enables it to deliver sustainable and consistent services. It is currently delivering its third Big Lottery project and its fourth 3-year Children in Need project, and has increased its income from around £250k to around £850k.

“Being able to evaluate our work effectively has been essential in helping us to secure new funding, by helping us to build a really strong track record with funders. Now that we are able to evaluate projects effectively, we can really demonstrate our impact and the value of our work.”

For more information on Oasis Play, visit their website:

www.oasisplay.org.uk