Vital work

After qualifying as a solicitor, Keith Hollis established his own practice in South London, primarily dealing with legal aid work. He was subsequently appointed as a judge and sat in Kent and Sussex for over twenty years, retiring as a Circuit Judge in 2013 to work as a mediator and judicial trainer. For many years, he has run judicial training programmes in different parts of the Commonwealth. His professional interests have chiefly been in human rights and in environmental and housing law. He is chairman of Sussex Community Foundation.

“After a long career in the law – initially as a solicitor with my own practice, as a District Judge, and then Circuit Judge sitting in county courts in Sussex, I have come to learn a great deal about the importance of small-scale community and charitable projects in supporting the most disadvantaged people in our county.

I was therefore delighted to become involved with Sussex Community Foundation, which I now chair.  Although part of a much wider, indeed worldwide, community foundation movement, it is essentially a local charity with the purpose of supporting mainly small scale community and charitable projects in all parts of Sussex, East and West plus Brighton & Hove. The importance of this support, especially after the retreat of national and local government from so many areas, cannot be exaggerated. The Foundation deserves to be much better known of.

On the one hand, we raise money for, and give grants to, groups who may not have resources or access to the degree of fundraising that they need and, on the other hand, we make it easier for Sussex people to give money to local those causes close to their hearts. We ensure that money reaches the projects that are most in need of it, that we know are properly run, and which can deliver the impact that people want to achieve from their charitable giving.

In each of the last two years, we have given over £2 million in grants, often in amounts under £5,000 which can be transformative for a small group. We focus on making the grant application process as straightforward as possible, whilst at the same time ensuring that due diligence is carried out on the projects that we are helping.

Much of our income is from our endowment funds (we currently hold over £22 million in endowments) which offer generous donors, both individual and corporate, opportunities to be actively involved in selecting which projects they would like their fund to help. Some donors establish a fund during their lifetime, which may be ‘topped up’ by a legacy, others may welcome the opportunity we give for the ‘next generation’ of their family to be involved, encouraging a ‘philanthropic gene’ to develop. There are also opportunities to make direct contributions without setting up an endowments fund, often a good way to get to know us and how we work before making a greater commitment. I don’t need to stress to you, as fellow solicitors, the tax opportunities that can be presented.

It is an interesting model, and it works. Whether you, or your clients, are interested in making applications for help in a community project that you are involved in, or perhaps in working with us to establish an endowment fund, do look at our website 

Do contact me, or our Lewes based team, if you’d like to hear more about the Foundation, on 01273 409440.” 

This article was first published in the Sussex Law Society newsletter.

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