Pop Up Projects

Cultural Impact Development Fund investment

The literature organisation received investment to expand its programming, develop promotional materials and launch its 10th-anniversary fundraising campaign.

Pop Up Projects

Region: East of England
Discipline: Literature
Investment size: £150,000

Pop Up Projects is a non-profit children’s literature agency established in 2011, with a vision of a more literate society where it is the universal right of every child and young person to access and enjoy literature. The organisation’s mission is to transform lives through literature, especially through working with people in deprived places and challenging circumstances.

Pop Up Projects delivers on this mission through three distinct strands of activities: working with primary, secondary, and SEN schools to produce an annual nationwide children’s literature festival; developing emerging talent to ensure that the next generation of children’s writers and illustrators is more diverse; and providing advisory services for peer organisations with complementary missions. 

Building Financial Resilience

Like many mission-driven organisations, Pop Up Projects has historically relied on grant funding from trusts and foundations. This reliance on grants served Pop Up Projects well during the organisation’s start-up phase and as it established its core programme offering. However, increased competition for this funding has catalysed the need to adapt its business model to include more unrestricted revenue such as earned income and individual giving. Having spent many years seeking funding from trusts and foundations, Pop Up Projects is acutely aware of the organisational costs of applying for grants and the risks of relying on a funding stream where the odds of success are increasingly  uncertain.  

Pop Up Projects approached the Cultural Impact Development Fund (CIDF) with a request for an unsecured loan of £150,000 to create a new role of Education and Development Director and to produce high-quality promotional materials. This investment will help the organisation to diversify its income portfolio by adding capacity and assets to increase commissioning income with schools and to launch a strategic fundraising campaign propelled by a 10th-anniversary celebration event.  

Increased senior leadership capacity and investment in promotional assets will support Pop Up Projects’ ambition to bring its Pop Up Festival to more schools, as well as expand it to young refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants. The addition of a Director of Education and Development will also allow the Executive Director to allocate time away from day-today management of the Festival to focus on individual giving and major gifts, which will help grow the organisation’s unrestricted income. This reallocation of capacity and investment in promotional assets will support Pop Up Projects to build a financially resilient and sustainable business model for the future. 


The reallocation of capacity and investment in promotional assets will support Pop Up Projects to build a financially resilient and sustainable business model for the future.

Children reading

Impact Capacity Development

Alongside the investment, Pop Up Projects received one-to-one support from CIDF to strengthen its approach to monitoring and evaluating its social impact. Through an organisational impact assessment, Pop Up Projects identified that it has already embedded many principles of good impact practice within individual programme strands. This was also affirmed through the process of working together to create a comprehensive framework that captured the organisation’s approach to monitoring and evaluation in one place for the first time. 

However, the process also found that Pop Up Projects would benefit from bringing together its impact reporting in one place and that the organisation could do more to amplify pupil voice within its approach to monitoring and evaluation. Additionally, Pop Up Projects was keen to develop a clearer narrative about the links among its different programmes and how they work in harmony with each other to fulfill the organisation’s wider mission. 

To help realise these ambitions, Pop Up Projects and CIDF agreed for the organisation to continue carrying out its approach to monitoring and evaluation, while also exploring and integrating innovative approaches to capturing pupil voice. Alongside this work, Pop Up Projects will create an organisation-wide Theory of Change to help better articulate the relationships among its different programme strands. 

Through taking this structured approach to monitoring and evaluation, Pop Up Projects and CIDF will create a robust data set to provide benchmarks for setting targets for the organisation’s future impact. With CIDF’s pioneering use of financial incentives in return for social impact, these plans and targets will also serve as the basis for determining reductions in interest rates over the lifetime of its investment.

Images: 1. Joseph Coelho Pop Up Festival 2017 © Joel Ford; 2. Pop Up Projects family event at the Jewish Museum 2015; 3. Pop Up Fusion multilingual animation project © Patrick Boyd.