Despite’s Oxfordshire’s reputation as an affluent region,  according to a  recent  Index of Multiple Deprivation, 16  of  Oxford’s neighbourhood areas are among the 20 per cent most deprived in England.

Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) is an independent charity that has been working to improve the lives of Oxfordshire’s most disadvantaged since 1995. They do this by bringing together people with the passion, resources and expertise to tackle the most pressing social problems facing the county.

The role of charity funders

All funders are struggling with the ratio of applications to the amount of funding available. Cuts in the value of public grants over the last 15 years have had a significant impact on the most vulnerable in society, leading charitable grant-giving organizations to look at ways to collaborate, fund more innovatively, communicate more eectively and use new technology to boost fundraising and improve eciencies. 

Gym activity

Jayne Woodley, CEO OCF said:

“We are well aware awarding grants alone will not solve the complex social problems we face. Despite 25 years in the sector, the amount of disadvantage and suffering amongst people in Oxfordshire remains unacceptable. We now see grant funding as just one of several tools that will drive positive social change – and believe now is the time to take a more ambitious and holistic view, bringing ideas and resources from all sectors together into a strong collaborative effort. What The Good Exchange offers is not competition, but an opportunity to think outside of the box about partnerships and to find ways of working together as funders that will enable the sector to join up the dots and avoid duplication.”

Partnership with The Good Exchange

OCF was the first Community Foundation to partner with The Good Exchange helping to prove the application of the platform outside of Berkshire and since 2018 they have awarded more than £130,000 in grants to good causes in Oxfordshire through the platform. As a grant-giving user, OCF is able to instantly see who is funding who and to work together with other funders to make a real difference in a collective and collaborative way.

Jayne Woodley, CEO OCF said:

“The worst thing that can happen is that you award an organization some money but it’s not enough it’s not the full amount that they need to actually start something up and in a way that’s wasted money while it’s waiting around for other funds to come in. The Good Exchange has definitely shown it can speed things up.” 

Charitable organizations using The Good Exchange platform complete a single, online application which is seen by multiple funders. As consent is given during the registration process, OCF is able to share application information (via the platform), with other funders who they think might be interested in working with them to fund specific projects or support themes in which they share a common interest.

What difference has it made?

Didcot TRAIN

The Didcot TRAIN story demonstrates how people receiving help through funding go on to help others, creating a virtuous cycle.   The charity works with young people who are at risk of educational failure, crime, child sexual exploitation, alcohol and substance abuse. Through The Good Exchange, OCF was able to match fund a grant from another funder which was in turn matched,  raising  £11,000  within six weeks for Didcot  TRAIN’s  ‘Explore  More’ personal development programme.  As a result, young people have the opportunity to transform their lives, build confidence and self-esteem, develop life goals and become mentors for others.

Ellisha, Didcot TRAIN Young Leader said:

“I was having a few problems at school and my school reached out to Didcot TRAIN. I had mentoring with Alice (Dore) for 6 weeks and it encouraged me to be better with my behaviour and do my work and stuff … and helped me to realise that I could do a lot more than I thought I could.” 

Alice Dore, Lead Youth Worker, Didcot TRAIN said:

“You only do one grant submission and it’s seen by lots of other people that might never have heard of your organisation but suddenly want to donate. It’s a true collaboration.”

“Thanks to The Good Exchange we’ve been able to get 2 new funders that we didn’t have previously which means that we’re creating new funding streams for ourselves.” 

Aspire Gym Bus

Aspire Oxford

Aspire is both an employment charity and social enterprise, supporting people facing homelessness, poverty or in recovery from addiction or serious mental health issues to find employment and housing and to make sustainable, lasting changes to their lives.  OCF awarded £7,500 of Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley match funding through the platform which was matched by four new funders in just three months. A further £20,000 of match funding (from a Donor Advised Fund) has already been matched with a £10,000 grant from Oxford City Council.

Paul Roberts, CEO Aspire Oxford said:

“The Good exchange platform encourages collaboration between funders, the confidence they can have knowing there’s another funder involved makes a big difference to getting projects over the line. The match funding element makes it so much easier to leverage funds when you’ve got one funder such  as  OCF  engaged.”

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Thames Valley said:

“The beauty of working with OCF and The Good Exchange is the additional match funding, so we get more bang for our buck. A lot of the funding that we get through the Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) office is…proceeds of crime so it’s brilliant to then be able to match that with other charitable donations.

“There is a big opportunity going forward to make sure we continue to make the most of all of our grant funding whether that’s here in Thames Valley or Police and Crime Commissioner opportunities across the country. Clearly using The Good Exchange [through OCF] has been a huge benefit to try and bring in that match funding.” 

Key Facts: Oxfordshire Community Foundation Working Through The Good Exchange

Total number of projects supported to date 14
Total Funding awarded through The Good Exchange £130,000
New money attracted to OCF supported projects via The

Good Exchange (grants and donations)

£69,466 = 65% leverage on social impact
New funders attracted to give grants via the platform 8
Total number of beneficiaries 3,458 direct beneficiaries and 6,176 indirect beneficiaries.

Looking to the future

Jayne Woodley, CEO, OCF said:

“As funders, the idea of working together in ‘themes’ is a way for us to come together and collaborate. We know that there are lots of other trusts and foundations in Oxfordshire particularly interested in homelessness and I think by working together we could probably have a greater impact. I see The Good Exchange enabling us to pool our funds, collaborate together and make that a pot of money available to all the organisations in the sector focusing on homelessness rather than asking them to apply to each of us individually. Collectively we might be able to fund an organisation to do some really important and different work and that to me would have an impact.”

Find out more about how Oxfordshire Community Foundation is supporting charitable projects through The Good Exchange here.