Growing community philanthropy in 2012
Growing effective community philanthropy will be more important than ever in 2012. Well-established community organisations are having to restructure or curtail activities; some are facing closure. I worry a great deal about the effect that will have on our communities and our most vulnerable people in particular. Whilst the Community Foundation cannot hope to rescue all these services, we can redouble our efforts to harness the generosity of donors from all walks of life who wish to support causes in their own areas at this critical time.
We will be making the first round of grants through Survive to Thrive, a special fund set up here by Guy Readman OBE, with contributions from the Sir Tom Cowie Fund and an anonymous donor. It is designed to help organisations that are facing reductions in support from public bodies that have a sound plan to renew their work through other means. We hope to grow this fund further and welcome new contributions from other donors.
Our Surviving Winter appeal continues – shortly before Christmas we heard we had raised just over £20,000. But there is more to do, and it is a great way for the public to get involved in helping vulnerable people avoid fuel poverty at this time of year.
We are also excited to be one of nine UK community foundations chosen to host a new programme called Time to Give. Through this programme, we will be running events and activities for existing community philanthropists, linking them to a new national fellowship of donors, and working with colleagues at the community foundations in County Durham, Cumbria and the Tees Valley. Do get in touch if you are a donor and wish to find out more.
Of course, our core work also continues: attracting new donors, making effective grants and contributing to wider policy and practice. Despite the continuing market turbulence, continuing to grow our endowment remains fundamental to our success. The point of endowment is its permanence regardless of year-on-year fluctuations: it is invested for long-term community benefit whilst providing revenue to support grant-making every year. It is welcome news, then, that we expect shortly to announce a new match-funding opportunity for gifts to establish endowment funds at the Community Foundation.
I know the year ahead will be challenging for people and organisations in North East England. For our part, we at the Community Foundation will be working hard to do all we can to ensure we are efficient and effective in our own fields, whilst also contributing positively to wider efforts to address needs in our region.
Rob Williamson, Chief Executive