About Us

The Community Foundation inspires and supports giving that strengthens communities and enriches local life. We have built an endowment of over £65 million and have awarded more than £100 million in grants. We provide:

We are a registered charity and limited company governed by a board of trustees chaired by Ashley Winter OBE. Individuals, voluntary groups, businesses and public bodies in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland are eligible to become members of the Foundation. Members elect and nominate representatives to the Board. The Duke of Northumberland is our honorary President and serves alongside Vice-Presidents and Patrons who are ambassadors for our work. The staff team of 21, led by our Chief Executive, Rob Williamson, manages the Foundation. We have our own building and meeting facilities at Philanthropy House in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Our principal area of benefit is Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, but some work extends to County Durham and the Tees Valley. We are the largest in a network of 48 community foundations in the UK, and are part of an international movement of over 1,800.

Click here to read more about our funds and our impact.

Our History

We were established in 1988 as the Tyne & Wear Foundation, one of the first community foundations in the UK. Initially funded by the Baring Foundation and local trusts, we grew through a series of fund transfers and private donations. Our initial endowment reached £3 million through a challenge scheme run by CAF and the Mott Foundation. Our area of benefit was then extended into Northumberland and the current name adopted.

Major developments included managing grants for the Henry Smith Charity, the establishment of the Readman Foundation Fund with a gift of £1.5 million from Guy and Margaret Readman, and the receipt of a legacy from the Kellett family of £5 million. By 1998, we had built a £10-million endowment.

In the early 2000s, a number of large corporate funds were set up and we were asked to hold the endowment for the new music centre in Gateshead, which became the Sage. We also managed some government programmes and explored leadership through initiatives on men’s health, youth homelessness and, social capital.

In 2009 our founding Director, George Hepburn OBE retired, and was succeeded by our present Chief Executive, Rob Williamson. In response to challenges resulting from the economic downturn, we refocused our work and continued building private philanthropy and awarding grants. We also began working with developers to run community benefit funds, especially associated with renewable energy schemes in Northumberland.

In 2013 we began publishing Vital Signs, a ‘health-check’ on issues in Tyne & Wear and Northumberland to provide an analysis of local priorities and inform donors about the best ways to make a difference with their philanthropy. In 2015 we moved into our own building, Philanthropy House in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne.