Annabel Davidson Knight


Annabel joined Collaborate in July 2016 to lead on developing and improving practice in the funding and finance of social initiatives and services. Building on ‘Blueprint’ and ‘a New Funding Ecology’ Annabel will be growing the ‘Funding Ecology’ programme which helps those who support social change to better understand the ecology in which they operate, the role they play, their relative strengths and ways to collaborate – all with a view to creating greater coherence, ensuring funders in all sectors act as purposeful agents for change.

With 8 years experience of leading national and international social programmes at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Annabel has a broad experience of ‘funding ecologies’, creating partnerships with the Big Lottery Fund and the Centre for Ageing Better and facilitating groups of funders investing in addressing ageing issues in the UK and across Europe. The value of convening is deeply embedded in her work, from helping to build a number of successful collaborations including the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Making Every Adult Matter coalition, through to developing practice around ‘Learning Communities’ within strategic programmes. In developing and leading on a range of social change programmes, Annabel has worked with key stakeholders across sectors, disciplines and borders and in such wide-ranging fields as service design and delivery, industry, research, social enterprise and policy. Most recently this involved working with private sector employers to consider trialing more holistic, therapeutic support of their employees as they age.

Annabel has worked on strategy and systems change both internally and through funding collaborations including as a participant in the Early Action Funders Alliance and currently as a member of the Expert Panel advising on the Big Lottery Fund’s £80m investment in the Ageing Better community pilots.

Annabel has lived and worked in Portugal, Spain and Chile, speaks Spanish and Portuguese and gained a BA in Philosophy and Hispanic Studies at the University of Sheffield.

“Those that deliver social initiatives and services – whether private, public or third sector – are very aware that they operate within ‘funding ecologies’. But too often the funding and finance around them feels disjointed or not focused on the right areas. Funders and Commissioners are an insightful bunch – they recognise the need for greater collaboration and coherence in light of ever increasing complexity and shrinking budgets if they are to achieve real and sustainable change. Working with a range of funders, we hope to help to improve practice by building evidence, supporting practice and ‘holding the space’ for new ideas around enlightened, collaborative funding.”

About Collaborate

Collaborate is an independent social business supporting cross sector collaboration in services to the public. We are a ‘shared space’ specialising in creative thinking, changing culture and supporting innovative practice. We work with individuals, organisations and systems who want to collaborate to achieve better outcomes for citizens.

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