Our Founder and first Chairman was the late Duke of Richmond and Gordon. He felt the establishment of a community foundation would highlight the smaller charities and community groups often overlooked when local people and companies thought about giving to charity. “It is, in my view, a scandal that there are areas in Sussex which are in the bottom 20% of national measures of social deprivation. At the same time, when local people or companies think of giving to charity they tend to think of large national bodies, because little is known about the small community groups on their doorsteps,” he said. “Sussex Community Foundation has been set up to bridge this gap and to make it easy for local people and companies to give to local communities. The Foundation can make a significant difference to local quality of life. This is about local communities working together for the welfare of all for many years to come.”
In 2004, The Duke of Richmond brought together a small steering group of people from across the county, with the support of the Lord Lieutenants for East and West Sussex, to consider how a community foundation might be established. The group commissioned an extensive feasibility study which explored local needs and examined how a community foundation might complement existing Sussex organisations. The study clearly demonstrated the need for a community foundation in Sussex. A number of individuals, companies and trusts were approached to become founder donors and their generous support funded the initial costs of setting up the organisation.
The American Express Foundation
BAA Communities Trust
The Batty Charitable Trust
The Ernest Kleinwort Charitable Trust
The Henry Smith Charity
West Sussex County Council
And eleven individual donors.
Thanks to the vision of this working group and the support of our founder donors, Sussex Community Foundation started work in January 2006, having already secured enough funds to cover three years’ running costs. The steering group recruited a wider group of trustees to represent the breadth of Sussex and a wide range of skills and experience, and a small professional staff team to deliver the mission.
Since then, we have given over £20 million in grants to over 2,500 community groups and are building a growing endowment for Sussex, currently standing at a further £22 million.
To read more about the history of community foundations, click on the box on the right.