Philanthropy is not talked about in the UK at the same magnitude as it is in other nations.
On Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th of October this year, UKCF will be hosting Together 23 – Philanthropy Forward: Navigating the Future. This is an online event – welcome to all who are interested and working in the field of philanthropy – that will look at where we are, where we need to be and how we can navigate the path of philanthropy to collectively tackle systemic inequality.
Historically, philanthropy has been used as a valuable tool to amplify the voices of communities that are often marginalised or overlooked in society. In past centuries and in the present day, community-led groups and charities have been instrumental in improving human rights, rooting out systemic inequalities and acting on emerging threats like climate change. The campaigning for LGBTQIA+ rights in recent years, for instance, has led to changes in the law and PRIDE month – now a well-established annual celebration of diversity and inclusion all over the UK – and important steps towards equality. This progress has been driven by the hard work and dedication of community-led groups, charities and individuals, and shows what can be achieved through determined civil action.
Philanthropy can play a crucial role in supporting big leaps forward in society. It provides funding, expertise, resources, and networks that empower people and organisations to drive change from the ground up. Furthermore, it can serve as a bridge to building new relationships and networks that are sustainable and long-lasting. This is particularly important in areas like LGBTQIA+ rights, where there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving full equality.
We need to recognise the power of communities
The pandemic highlighted the importance of community-led groups and charities in responding to crises and subsequent aftermaths. These groups have continued to be a vital presence on the front line of local response, providing essential services to diverse communities hit hardest by issues like inflation, loneliness, fuel and food poverty, and poor mental health. Philanthropic organisations have been a huge support to these organisations, providing funding and resources for groups as they work towards addressing deep-rooted challenges.
Over the past several months alone, our network has worked with some fantastic philanthropic partners that have felt passionately about addressing some of these issues. Cellnex UK has worked with community foundations to help reduce digital isolation in Manchester and across London; DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) has been involved in UKCF projects across England that are helping to reduce loneliness and connect communities through volunteering; British Red Cross and M&G are among many donors that have been involved in funding our network’s UK-wide cost-of-living crisis support throughout the year. All of this funding has been directed at the incredible work happening on the ground at a local level to drive positive change.
Philanthropy is not just about giving money
It is about creating meaningful partnerships and collaborations between individuals, organisations, charities, and communities. It is about building trust and understanding and working together to achieve common goals. It is about creating a sense of shared responsibility and accountability for the well-being of society.
How do we know when it works? The impact can be seen in the success stories of community-led groups and charities across the UK, shared in outlets like Charity Today!
Now is the time for funders to encourage more people to get involved.
At a time when the world is facing unprecedented challenges, philanthropy has never been more important. So, if you are part of a funding organisation and wish to learn more about the future possibilities of philanthropy, I invite you to take a look at our online Together 23 event, on 18th and 19th October, and save the date.
Author: Rosemary Macdonald, CEO at UK Community Foundations