Oxford spires skyline at night, dramatically lit
OUR HISTORY

OCF has a long history. Since the first community foundation was created over 100 years ago in Cleveland Ohio, USA, the movement has grown to include over 1,800 foundations in 51 countries worldwide, with 46 in the UK alone.

Early days of Community Foundations

The first community foundation was established in 1914 in Cleveland. Philanthropy pioneer Fred Goff discovered that many of his predecessors had left benevolent wills and significant sums of money to benefit causes that had since become obsolete. He realised that a better way to ensure a community’s future was to create a fund that was held by its citizens in perpetuity, to be used at their discretion to address the needs of the day.

The Cleveland Foundation is a superb example of how well the community foundation model can work. It has raised close to $1bn in donations, has made grants of over $1.75bn, and now has over $2bn in endowment investments – showing a 4x ‘gearing’ ratio. Few investment firms, let alone charities, can demonstrate better financial acumen.

Community foundations in the UK

The first foundation in the UK was in Swindon, established in 1975. Since then, UK community foundations have grown to manage over £500 million in their combined endowment funds. They are working with more than 15,000 donors and now represent one of the leading sources of funding for local charitable causes in the UK.

The story in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire Community Foundation was established in 1995 by the late Sir Ashley Ponsonby, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire 1980–96. Since then we have:

  • Stewarded £12 million in donations from Oxfordshire’s generous givers
  • Grown our endowment fund to nearly £5 million, with an aim to reach £10 million by 2020
  • Awarded £6.3 million in grants, benefiting around 2,000 local charities and community groups.

To find out more about our history, take a look at our 21st birthday impact report.

OCF is a member of UKCF, the national body that supports and accredits community foundations in the United Kingdom.

Find about more about our Quality Accreditation

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Browse our 21st birthday impact report
  • “I really must thank the team for helping me during the application process and for having such faith in our work.”

    Kay Alty of New Yatt Riding for the Disabled Association, giving a treat to a fleabitten grey horse
    Kay Alty
    New Yatt Riding for the Disabled
  • “We like to find strategic solutions, not provide sticking plasters.”

    Jayne Woodley, CEO of Oxfordshire Community Foundation
    Jayne Woodley
    CEO, Oxfordshire Community Foundation
  • “It is so uplifting to meet so many people blessed with generous hearts and a deep sense of community.”

    Ali Mosawi, one of OCF's donors
    Ali Mosawi
    Donor
  • “It’s so good to think about the bigger picture aside from the week working at the coalface. It keeps me focused about what messages we needed to get across about ourselves as a charity.”

    Alice Walters, Strategic Development Manager at Thrive.org.uk
    Alice Walters
    Strategic Development Manager, Thrive
  • “I really appreciate your work on what for my parents is such an important project. I am glad that the fund has been developing so positively and swiftly.”

    David Evans, fundholder of the Maggie Evans Fund
    David Evans
    Maggie Evans Fund
  • “The huge satisfaction to be gained from spending one’s time in giving in your later years far outweighs any pleasures that you can possibly gain on the golf course, on the beach or on the back of the yacht in the Mediterranean sipping martinis.”

    Michael Oglesby, a UK businessman and philanthropist
    Mike Oglesby
    Coutts Million Pound Donor Report
  • “I like to have something worthwhile to get up for each morning… I find that the larger and more strategic the gift, the more pleasure I get out of it.”

    Dame Stephanie Shirley, a British businesswoman and philanthropist
    Dame Stephanie Shirley
    Coutts Million Pound Donor Report
  • “I can’t get over it; I’m still shaking when I talk about it. It’s just incredible… I feel a bit guilty about getting so much pleasure out of giving!”

    Terry Bramall, a UK businessman and philanthropist
    Terry Bramall
    Coutts Million Pound Donor Report
  • “Generosity is the best investment.”

    Diane Von Furstenberg, a fashion designer and philanthropist
    Diane von Fürstenberg
    Fashion designer
  • “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

    Warren Buffet, an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist
    Warren Buffet
    Philanthropist
  • “It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place.”

    Andrew Carnegie, a 19th century Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist
    Andrew Carnegie
    Philanthropist
  • “The overriding aim of LYP is to bring hope for the future to young people, some of whom have given up on expecting anything positive out of life.”

    Richard Colebrook, founder of the Leys Youth Programme
    Richard Colbrook
    Project Leader, Leys Youth Programme
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