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:

  • Grown our endowment fund to nearly £5m – but believe we could do better and catch up with Norfolk, Cumbria and County Durham foundations, who each hold funds greater than £10m.
  • Awarded £5.5 million in grants, benefiting nearly 3,000 local projects – but we’re aware that Kent Community Foundation awarded the same amount in just 12 months during 2013–14!
  • Become the 12th fastest growing community foundation in the UK – but we want to overtake Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire, all of whom are growing faster than we are.

See Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, praise the work of community foundations:

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  • “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
FEATURED

Legacy for a Legend

When Paul Thompson died of a sudden cardiac event, his wife and friend created a named fund in his memory that is used to fund life-saving defibrillators.

Royds Withy King

Royds Withy King’s patron fund with OCF helps us deliver a professional, efficient service to our donors and grant recipients, and helps them become more strategic with their charitable giving.

Jane Mactaggart

Jane holds her own named fund, to which she makes an annual donation. She works with us to develop a rolling portfolio of charitable giving.