Blog

Sussex Community Foundation’s blog page. We will publish and share various columns and opinion pieces that we are asked to write here. 

People in Sussex remain incredibly generous with both their time and their money and are very highly valued.  August 2019

Local charity, Community Works, has published an economic audit of the voluntary sector in Brighton & Hove, Taking Account 4. The report estimates there are 2,300 community organisations in the city, employing 7,000 people. The report finds that 45% of adults have volunteered over the last year. The figures indicate that people in Sussex remain incredibly generous with both their time and their money and that we value our charities very highly.

The report also shows that the majority of public giving goes to the larger charities yet there is great value and joy in supporting smaller charities. Last year, we awarded grants worth a total of £2.1 million to 397 charities & groups, right at the heart of our communities where that money really counts.

Last month, I was honoured to spend a day in East Grinstead with Davina Irwin-Clark, the High Sheriff of West Sussex.

We met the team at Jigsaw who provide counselling and support for children who are bereaved. It was so moving to hear of the very sad circumstances that some children have had to face but also wonderful to learn how the right support at the right time can help families to re-build after the most tragic of events.

East Grinstead Foodbank was a great example of generosity and compassion. Donations had come in from churches, businesses and families and we met volunteers who worked with great sensitivity to help people in need to get back on their feet.

Finally, we had lunch in the Quarry Crew Café. Run by and for local people, the café transforms several times during a day, from a mother & toddler group, to a lunch club for older people and finally, a youth club – often the different groups mix, helping to break down barriers.

We came away with the strong impression that East Grinstead is a warm community, with thriving business and cultural sectors and many volunteers working to make the town a great place to live for everyone.  The day out helped me to realise again the difference we can make to people lives with small amounts of money. These local charities and community groups really are the lifeblood of our communities and we are proud that we can play a part in supporting them.

Kevin Richmond, Chief Executive

STEP Sussex summer conference July 2019

In June, our Chief Executive Kevin Richmond was delighted to be invited, with ex-trustee and retired solicitor, Patricia Woolgar, to speak at the STEP Sussex summer conference at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton. It was an opportunity to spread the word about our work to an audience that we know we can really support in their work.

“I came to fully understand what Sussex Community Foundation does when I was involved in setting up the Brenda Ford Fund,” says Patricia. Brenda Ford was a victim of domestic abuse and Patricia was appointed by the Office of the Public Guardian to represent her, when she was still alive. When Brenda died, part of her estate was used to set up the Brenda Ford Fund, which was set up to support charities to help other victims of domestic violence.

“Sussex Community Foundation is a facilitator,” says Patricia. “It enables individuals, families, businesses and trustees to set up or transfer an existing fund which is then managed by the Foundation, who use highly respected investment managers to manage those funds.”

The Foundation’s team is based in Lewes and makes grants on behalf of their donors to small charities and not-for-profit groups across East, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove, working across a huge range of charitable activities (from rural isolation, homelessness, mental health issues and disability etc).

“Donors then either choose which charities they wish to benefit or a grants panel will apply funds in accordance with the donor’s letter of wishes. All grants are approved by the Foundation’s trustees to give added reassurance.” Comprehensive due diligence is carried out on the charities making the applications and a follow-up process ensures grants are spent appropriately.

“Donor-advised funds are becoming more and more of a popular way for your client’s to maximise their charitable giving. It enables donors to have the flexibility  to give to a wide range of different causes of their choosing, without having to worry about the administrative burden or its cost, or the often time consuming process of finding suitable beneficiaries,” says Patricia.

If you or one of your clients would like to know more, please do call Toni Darton at Sussex Community Foundation on 01273 409440 or email Toni

 

A community foundation is not just another charity April 2019

“In such a generally affluent area it is, in my view, a scandal that there should be so many wards in Sussex among the most disadvantaged areas in the country. We live in a wealthy part of Britain which is capable of addressing this, provided we have the will to do so, and provided we effectively present the needs of the Sussex community to wealthy Sussex people. I believe we have a huge opportunity to make a significant contribution over the long term to the quality of life of the people of Sussex. A community foundation is not just another charity.  We are aiming to establish long-term relationships with Sussex people who want to make a difference over time to the quality of life of people in the local community.”

These words from our Founder, the 10th Duke of Richmond, continue to inspire us and to define our mission. We are here to make an enduring difference to Sussex to address disadvantage and to improve quality of life. As the Duke said, at the heart of the community foundation is the desire to make a lasting difference and we achieve this by building an endowment fund which allows us to provide the sustainable funding that our community desperately needs.

As we come to the end of another financial year, I am delighted to announce that this endowment fund has now reached £20 million, thanks to the generosity of so many Sussex people. This fund will generate £1 million in grant funds every year and means we can continue to make a positive difference with each passing year. We think the Duke would have been delighted that his vision has inspired others to give so generously.

But our work is by no means over. We received over £4 million worth of grant applications last year and demand grows constantly, as other sources of funding are shrinking. As we look ahead, we aim to redouble our efforts to raise funds to meet both the immediate demands for funding from local charities and the future needs of our communities.

As the Duke hoped, Sussex Community Foundation has made a significant contribution to the quality of life of the people of Sussex, but there is much more to do. We hope you will join us and help make a long term difference to your community.

 

Remembering Arthur February 2019

Award winners at the Arthur and Doreen Green Fund awards February 2019

Last week, I was honoured to be part of a special evening at the Mayor’s Parlour in Brighton, hosted by the Mayor of Brighton & Hove, Councillor Dee Simpson. We were awarding grants from the Arthur and Doreen Green Fund at Sussex Community Foundation.

The fund was set up by Mr Arthur Green who sadly passed away last summer, after a long and very full life. Arthur was a lovely man who brought joy and warmth to all who met him. I had known Arthur for over ten years and always looked forward to our phone conversations or the time we spent together. He would always share a funny story, an investment tip and the latest bargain he had found or deal that he had struck! As someone said last night, Arthur didn’t like to spend any money on himself but was always generous in helping others.

Arthur first approached us in 2008, not long after his beloved wife Doreen had passed away. He wanted to start building a fund in her memory to help other people less fortunate than he had been. He was an active member of many local community groups and wanted to support these small but vital groups.

When I was able to tell him that any money he put into the fund would attract Gift Aid – and, at the time, there was match funding for donations to long-term endowment funds – he was sold! He added to the Arthur and Doreen Green Fund every year. Each time an investment matured, he would transfer it into the fund and each year we would meet to award grants to charities that he cared about.

When he passed away, Arthur left a legacy to add to the fund, ensuring that we will carry on supporting the causes he cared about for generations to come. Sadly, Arthur and Doreen were not able to have children, but their fund means that they will be remembered fondly. Last week’s event was a fitting memorial to a very generous and lovely man. But it was also a celebration of the great work being done by a wide range of small local charities, a clear demonstration of the real value of supporting your local community.

We awarded grants from Arthur’s fund to an amazing diversity of groups:

  • Ambigo CIC runs unique events, addressing hate crime by bringing together people who don’t normally mix, to make each other’s goals, ideas and ambitions happen
  • Early Childhood Project has been championing children’s rights for over 30 years and provides a toy library and preschool clubs
  • Eastbourne District Scout First Aid Team provides high-level first aid and medical care that enables all young people to take part in scouting events across the country
  • Hove Lagoon Model Yacht Club has 30 members who race large model yachts every Sunday morning at Hove Lagoon.
  • Knoll Community Association is a thriving community centre used by thousands of people every year. The grant paid for new heating in the upstairs hall.
  • MindOut provides counselling and support for LGBT people in Brighton & Hove. The grant paid for a specific project to help older people.
  • Outside In provides a platform for artists who find it difficult to access the art world for reasons including health issues, disability, isolation or social circumstances.
  • Southwick Men’s Supper Club is a social club for older men. As David Bruce from the club said on the evening, Arthur would have approved of the club because it provides a free meal for those who need it!

I know that Arthur drew great joy for the diverse range of local community groups he was able to support and last week’s event was a moving experience. It truly showed the power of the human spirit. Although the groups were undertaking very different activities and addressing very different issues, they all shared a drive and a passion to help others and to make the world a better place.

When times are dark and the future is uncertain, this is where the hope is. People like those I was lucky enough to meet last week will not rest from their endeavours. Sussex Community Foundation will be there to support these local heroes today and for generations to come, because of the generosity of Mr Arthur Green and many others like him,.

Thank you, Arthur, for bringing such warmth, joy and compassion to our community and thank you to all those brilliant people that I met last week.

Kevin Richmond, Chief Executive,

 

“How can I make sure that the money I give really makes a difference to people’s lives?”

This is the crucial question and, for those who want to give locally, community foundations can be the answer. It is 13 years since I joined Sussex Community Foundation. After a career working for small charities, I believed that people would give more to local charities, if they could see the massive difference that local giving can make. This vision is becoming a reality.

Last year, community foundations in the UK gave out £100 million in grants, among the ten largest funders of charities in the country. In Sussex, we gave out over £2 million for the first time. Yet our success only serves to demonstrate the need. Over the last year, we received nearly £5 million in high quality grant applications – which we would have loved to support, if only we had enough money.

Every one of the charities we support is making a big difference to local people. Don’t just take my word for it – read what Marco from the Real Junk Food Project has to say here.

We are working hard to demonstrate the impact of giving locally, to inspire more people to support these amazing local charities and plug the gap between our grants and the need in the community.

We hope you will want to join us.

Kevin Richmond, Chief Executive,

 

Uncertain times

The work of Sussex Community Foundation has never been more important than today. As we stand, at beginning of 2019, it is very hard to predict the future for the economy or for the voluntary sector but we can be sure of uncertain times. We do know that local government services, already cut to the bone, face further dramatic reductions in funding and this will only increase the pressure on local charities and community groups.

In this context, the stable and consistent source of funding for local charities which our endowment fund offers is absolutely vital and may make the difference between closure and survival for many small charities. So much of the money available to support local community action is ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. Charities face having to constantly re-invent themselves, or present their work in different ways, to meet constantly changing patterns of funding. This uncertainty makes it very hard for charities to plan for even the medium term and, for many charities, the biggest challenge is to raise the funds for their core work – the reason they were set up in the first place.

A local community foundation, with a significant endowment fund, can be part of the solution to these problems. We have a long-term relationship with our donors and are here to provide exactly the support local charities need to survive.

The last financial year was an extraordinary one for Sussex Community Foundation. We raised £4.5 million for this endowment fund, which now stands at £16.7 million. This was thanks to the creation of the Brighton & Hove Legacy Fund, from transfers of dormant charitable trusts held by Brighton & Hove City Council, to new funds set up by the Lawson Trust and Rampion Offshore Wind Ltd, as well as generous legacies and gifts from individuals and families who care deeply about Sussex.

During 2017-18, we gave out 611 grants worth over £2 million and supported 430 groups and 35 individuals, bringing our total grant output to £13.2 million. This was our most successful year ever and yet we received applications worth over £4 million and the demand continues to grow.

Every day, we see evidence of inspiring local charities and community groups who are making an amazing difference to people’s lives in our county. We now aim to re-double our efforts to attract more donations from local people, especially to our endowment fund, so that we can be a shelter in the storm for these incredible groups and make sure that we can provide the sustainable funding that ensures they survive and thrive in these uncertain times.

Kevin Richmond

Chief Executive Sussex Community Foundation

 

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