Sunday, 23 June 2024
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Sunday, 23 June 2024

Report finds community resilience amid tough times

UK donors and communities are determined to drive philanthropy forward to tackle the root causes of social inequity and climate change in the face of today’s financial turmoil, according to a new report published by UK Community Foundations.

(Report’s main points)

  • Community foundations in the UKCF network collectively cover every postcode in the UK and together distributed over £170.6 million – 40,804 grants – to charities and voluntary organisations in the financial year 2022-2023.
  • Tackling the root causes of social inequity has been a key focus of local funding, collaborating with donors and communities alike to support grassroots resilience.
  • Over £811 million is being managed by the UKCF network in community-focused endowments, being invested by communities for communities. This has risen by 14% since 2020, showing a drive for more sustainable support at a local level.
  • Climate change is affecting UK communities in unequal measures. Philanthropic collaboration with community foundations is supporting diverse communities on a national scale to adapt to the inevitable impacts of an increase in global temperature.
  • Between April 2022 and March 2023, community foundations worked with national and regional partners to distribute over £170.6 million in the form of 40,804 grants to charities and voluntary organisations throughout the UK.

UK Community Foundations (UKCF), one of the UK’s largest funding networks, has published its annual report, Philanthropy 2023. It highlights the determination of UK communities to overcome the financial crisis and address the root causes of social inequity through local philanthropic action.

UKCF was established 32 years ago in December 1991. Today, it is the membership body for 47 accredited community foundations which collectively cover every postcode of the UK, including in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Increasingly, individuals and households are finding themselves in need of support from charities and funders – some for the first time in their lives. The report investigates the root causes of the rise in demand for frontline services and the barriers that charities themselves are having to fight through to provide the necessary support.

Continual financial inequalities and affected mental health from the Covid pandemic are some of the issues highlighted in the report as having led to the increase in demand of local charitable services in 2023. It goes on to note that, according to a survey conducted by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), one in five charities are having to reconsider keeping their vital services open due to their own financial difficulties. Community foundations are seeing the reality of these closures on the ground.

Together, UKCF members have distributed over £170.6 million – 40,804 grants – to charities and voluntary organisations in the financial year 2022-2023. Regional insights show that, while the resilience of community-focused organisations has not faded, there is still so much to be done to improve social equity at a local level.

Rosemary Macdonald, CEO at UKCF, says in the introduction of Philanthropy 2023:

“Recent times have been demanding for all charities. Covid, followed by the financial crisis, has seen the necessity for charities continue to rise while local charity provisions have been forced to shrink. The predicted impact of charity closures will no doubt affect our underrepresented and minoritised communities the hardest – something we cannot let happen. As a sector, we must ensure these vital services continue to be there for everyone who needs them.”

The report also refers to the long-term potential of ‘place-based philanthropy’, marking it as ‘a valued addition’ to public services in reducing systemic inequity and improving the quality of life in UK communities. It illustrates the merit of convening different bodies of society; bringing together funders, grassroots community groups, local authorities, corporates, financial services, social enterprises and other decision-makers, to develop philanthropic opportunities that explore and tackle areas of inequality and climate change.

The UKCF network is collectively managing over £811 million in endowments, being invested by communities for communities. This has risen by 14% since 2020, showing a drive for more sustainable support at a local level. The report explores the promising landscape of place-based philanthropy, where building community endowments ensures a long-term revenue stream, stating ‘the potential of new philanthropic opportunities by unlocking dormant trusts and assets is huge’.

Supporting communities in regaining resilience for the future is high on the agenda for UKCF. Rosemary continued:

“We have been working with the National Emergencies Trust to scenario plan future disaster preparedness and we remain an active part of the Voluntary and Community Sector Emergencies Partnership (VCSEP). We have also been working closely with local authorities, developing strong partnerships across the UK.”

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