Skip to content ↓

CEO Blog: Harnessing the Power of Place-based Philanthropy

These are challenging times for many living within our local communities amidst an uncertain and worrying era in the world. It’s at difficult moments like this, that’s it’s reassuring to know we are connected to a global network of 1800 community foundations. Each is striving hard in their locality to harness the power of local philanthropy and generosity to ensure small charities, community groups and caring residents can help support and sustain services that change lives and provide a safety net of support.

As part of a UK Network of 47 place-based experts and community foundations, we are nationally the fourth-biggest grant maker. We work alongside each other to ensure we share innovative ways to champion the cause of place-based philanthropy and be at the forefront of good grant making.

I’m a big believer in this inspiring quote by anthropologist Margaret Mead about the ability of communities to build better places for people:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Here at Northamptonshire Community Foundation, we are privileged to see this every day through the generosity of donors, the hard work of brilliant local charities and collaboration with local partners who want to provide local solutions to tackle poverty, support good health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities and build sustainable and thriving communities.

We know all too well the significant impact that voluntary community groups and smaller charities have in making a big difference to the well-being of local communities.  They provide an extraordinary range of activities and projects that connect, help people, and change lives: from community choirs to counselling services, friends of parks to food aid projects, sports clubs to support services, village hall committees to volunteer action. They make up our local civil society and help build a sense of place and belonging for residents.

We’re so proud of Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s donors and their generosity and it is what makes our work continue. Thank you to all, whether you are a personal, public or business donor. Your belief in the fact that small charities and community groups do and can make a big impact makes all the difference in the world. Last year we awarded £1.2 million in grants, thanks to the kind people, organisations and donors who support our work. Sadly, we know that the very groups and charities we fund are under threat of closing due to a very tough funding landscape.

We need to work hard to help those groups and charities that are helping people deal with the cost-of-living crisis, with sustainable funding. It was those very small charities that kept our most vulnerable residents safe and well during the COVID-19 pandemic. We commit here, at Northamptonshire Community Foundation, to championing those very groups, that help our most vulnerable residents because we recognise the massive difference place-based charities make. We are deeply privileged to be surrounded by fantastic and caring VCSE staff and volunteers; and you may not personally need their services, but to your neighbour, they just might be a lifeline. Let’s harness the power of generosity and together we can and will continue to build better lives during difficult times.

Going forward here are just some of the key actions in driving our mission and vision forward to build happy and healthy people and places now and in the future:

  • We will promote philanthropy and generosity to those who want to give back to their communities, through the giving of both time and financial support to help increase a community asset for future generations
  • We will measure the impact of our grant making and philanthropy to help show the difference made by investing in voluntary community groups and local charities and their work to build better communities. In doing so we help build a picture of the value of place-based funding to nurture and grow local civil society
  • We will enrich and deepen our connections across our communities. We will commit to providing the best donor care and grant services support to ensure we build valued, honest and supportive relationships, listening and responding to their needs and improving our services to reflect those needs
  •  We will champion the cause for ongoing funding for small community groups and charities because of the big impact they have to help change the world locally especially during critical and difficult times
  • We will champion the global goals in Northamptonshire and work alongside partners, collaborators, voluntary community groups and charities and donors and inspire others to take on the challenge of building a better and more sustainable world here in your county

If you want to find out more about Northamptonshire Community Foundation then please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Please join us to do good right here on our doorstep.

Rachel McGrath, CEO